Lawrence city commissioners took a step Tuesday toward making handwritten parking tickets in Lawrence as much a thing of the past as the rumbleseat.
Commissioners decided to try out for 60 days an automated ticket system that would convert parking violation information into computer data and save the city thousand of dollars in data entry costs.
The system features a hand-held personal computer that allows traffic officers to enter data on a parking offender and print out a ticket, said Rod Bremby, assistant city manager.
Officers would put the ticket in the familiar yellow envelope and under an offender's windshield wipers.
Information collected on parking violations later can be dumped from the hand-held device into a computer system, Bremby said.
FROM THE downloaded data, municipal court workers could chart parking problems in Lawrence, track collections, keep tabs on habitual offenders and generate warning letters through the system automatically.
"This is like when I rent a car and I bring it back, and the person who is standing right there types it in and give me a bill?" said Commissioner John Nalbandian.
"So we're catching up with Hertz?" Nalbandian said.
Bremby replied that the city utilities department has used the technology for several years for reading water meters.
Representatives from Cardinal Tracking Inc., vendor of the system, offered to let the city try out the system for 60 days, Bremby said.
"THEY WILL come up and install the system, and train all of our parking control officers," he said.
"If in the 60-day period we choose we no longer want to receive their system, we would be out about $5,000," Bremby said.
If city officials decide they want to keep the system, there are several options for financing its purchase.
The total price of the system would be about $25,000, Bremby said, which would include installation, training of officers, six hand-held computers, software, ticket paper, and a main storage computer.
Bremby said that in the worst case scenario, the system would pay for itself within 2 years. "But I don't know if we're going to want the entire system," he said.
Commissioner Shirley Martin-Smith praised the system as a way to improve the efficiency of the parking ticket system, which is usually backlogged.
"I BECAME interested in it because I do get tickets," Martin-Smith said. "And it is frustrating to pay your ticket on time and it's not documented.
"I think this is a great answer to the problem of saying we're going to be more efficient," she said.
Bremby said this morning that he didn't know when Cardinal representatives would be available to install the system.