The city of Houston plans to become more aggressive in collecting unpaid parking fines.
"We're making investments in equipment, in people, and in systems to recruit money that is owed to us," said Chris Newport, a city spokesperson.
Up until now, it has been difficult for the City of Houston to identify individuals who've received parking tickets if they drive a leased vehicle. Unpaid parking ticket warnings and requests for payments would be sent to the vehicle's title holder instead of the likely scofflaw.
"We're now changing that. We will be able to run a query to find out who is leasing the vehicle," Newport said.
Leasing companies vary on whether they pay the ticket, forward the charge to the lessee, or fight the charge, The city will now be able to cut through that part of the process.
The previous limitation explains why leasing companies occupy so many spots on the city's top 20 list of unpaid parking ticket fines.
There is one individual who made the list, a Houston resident by the name of Tasha A. Harris.
The city has been unable to locate Harris and hold her accountable.
Local 2 Investigates found Harris at her home. She said she had no plans to pay more than $7,000 in fines tied to her.
"My thing is that those were from someone else driving my car," said Harris.
Harris claims an ex-boyfriend is responsible for amassing the 103 parking tickets in less than five months during 2010. She is dismayed that the city impounded and auctioned her car, and is still demanding the money.
"You stole from me and the person who was driving my car stole from you, it looks even to me," Harris said.
The city has said Harris is not "even."
"The auctioned vehicle proceeds went to cover impound costs. It did not satisfy her debt for the parking violations," said Newport.
Others on the list have been more willing to pay.
The Greater Houston Transportation Company, on the hook for nearly $48,000, according to the city, has paid-off most of the bill incurred by their cabbies, said Newport.
"It's not a question of if, it's a question of when it's going to be time to pay what you owe," said Newport.
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