Newton, Iowa, OKs New Parking Enforcement Software

Although the cost of a new parking enforcement system is higher than the existing services, city officials say it will be more efficient and will save a considerable amount of staff time.

by Christopher Braunschweig, Newton Daily News / September 18, 2019
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(TNS) — Employees at the Newton Police Department will be saving more than 300 hours — or roughly $6,000 — of staff time annually following the implementation of new parking enforcement software and services, which were approved by the city council Monday evening.

The police department’s current software, which is outdated and inefficient and was described as a “glorified Excel spreadsheet,” will be replaced by OptoPark LLC. Newton Police Chief Rob Burdess reported to the council the old software cost the police station about $2,400 a year.

The new system has no upfront costs. Instead, the police department is paying for the system per every issued ticket.

According to city documents, processing services are set at a rate of $3.25 per issued parking ticket and $1.50 per issued late notice. On average, the Newton Police Department writes about 1,000 to 1,200 tickets per year and issues about 400 to 500 late notices.

With the new parking enforcement software, the Newton Police Department would be paying roughly $3,250 or $3,900 per year in issuing parking tickets. Likewise, the late notices would cost roughly $600 to $700 per year. The fewer tickets the police department writes, the less expensive the bill is going to be.

Although the cost of a new parking enforcement system is higher than the current services, Burdess claimed it would be more efficient and save considerable staff time. Issuing processing services and late notices, he argued, is a “very time consuming process” for staff members.

“Really, the public’s not going to see much difference,” Burdess said. “Their tickets are going to be printed on a printer now. They can pay their ticket online through a website, so you don’t have to come up to the police department and pay. So there are some conveniences built into that.”

This system, Burdess added, will be more user friendly for both citizens and staff. Hardware is included in the agreement with OptoPark. All the tickets will be issued through an Android phone and printer, which is going to be with the parking attendant at all times. If the device breaks, it is replaced at no cost.

Upon adopting the resolution, the Newton City Council and Newton Police Department have consented to a three-year agreement with OptoPark, an east coast company. Burdess said he’s heard “decent feedback” from the new services.

“Their bread and butter is in speed cameras, so they’re really knowledgeable about the payment processing system,” he said. “We’re actually really happy with the back end system, which is the piece that’s really clunky for us right now. So we think it’s going to be a pretty good partnership.”

Councilperson Evelyn George was in favor of the proposal and said she would rather see police staff use their time more productively. The Newton City Council unanimously voted 6-0 in favor of the resolution.

©2019 the Newton Daily News (Newton, Iowa). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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