The first of the State Government’s reductions to parking fines has kicked in, but most Wagga people will not feel an immediate benefit.
From January 31, motorists will be given a 10-minute grace period for fines if they have paid for at least one hour of parking and receiving a physical ticket.
As there is no paid parking in Wagga, this first wave of changes will have little impact unless residents happen to overstay their parking welcome when they are away from home.
Wagga drivers will not feel any real effects of the changes until the latter half of 2019, when the city’s parking fines drop by 25 per cent from $112 down to $80.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet wrote to all NSW councils in 2018, asking them to “opt in” and slash fines.
Councils were given a initial option of starting on March 1, but Wagga councillors chose to give the city an extra six months to implement the changes, with the reductions due to come into force on September 1.
The reduction, council staff estimated, would reduce the city’s parking fine revenue by 28 per cent – somewhere between $85,000 and $95,000 – in the next financial year.
For Lynne Bodell, from the Wagga Ratepayers Community Forum, the idea of reducing parking fines causes mixed feelings.
While Ms Bodell has sympathy for people who have to find parking in highly congested areas – like the Wagga Base Hospital precinct – she is less so towards people who may be able to park their cars appropriately, but simply choose not to.
“I don’t have a lot of sympathy for people who don’t park correctly or move their cars out because they are lazy,” she said.
Ms Bodell said concerns about how the reduction in parking fines revenue would affect Wagga City Council fed into worries about road maintenance more widely.
She remains concerned that announcements of funding for new roadworks were not followed up with ongoing money for maintenance, adding to the pressure on council budgets.