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Parking crackdown lucrative for Atlanta
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An aggressive parking enforcement strategy in Atlanta has more than doubled the number of parking citations, boosting revenue for the city.

ParkAtlanta collected more than $8.5 million and issued nearly 203,000 citations in fiscal year 2011, according to documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ( ).

Those figures represent an approximate tripling from 2008, the year before Atlanta outsourced enforcement to ParkAtlanta. That year, the city collected $2.39 million in fines, meter payments and parking permits.

Atlanta now receives $5.5 million per year, or about 1 percent of its general fund, in guaranteed money from ParkAtlanta, the documents show. That's far more than it used to make from on-street parking.

The increased enforcement, stemming from a seven-year contract negotiated by the administration of former Mayor Shirley Franklin, was aimed at guaranteeing cash flow for the city and addressing shortfalls in Atlanta's parking system, which had experienced layoffs among enforcement staffers.

ParkAtlanta keeps whatever revenue it collects beyond $5.5 million. Cash that goes to the city is deposited in its general fund.

ParkAtlanta, a unit of Milwaukee-based Duncan Solutions, has about 80 local employees in Atlanta, including about 30 sworn Atlanta police officers on a part-time basis. The company does provide weekly reports to the city showing how many vehicles it towed and booted, how many drivers received citations, and how much money was collected.

"The level of transparency we provide is, I think, exceptional," said Anderson Moore, regional vice president with Duncan Solutions. "We have to be accountable to the city every day. This is what we do for a living, and we're proud of that."

But many residents and business owners say the profit motive has made some areas of Atlanta more of a hassle because of the threat of $35 tickets for expired meters.

Harvey Cholfin of northwest Atlanta says he won't go back to the city's Little Five Points area after getting a ticket. He says he didn't see the meter, and the experience killed any prospect for him to return to the neighborhood that's home to several shops, restaurants and nightspots.

"Instead, I head out to the 'burbs," he said.