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City reduces parking penalties

| July 27, 2007 12:00 AM

By KYLE McCLELLAN The Western News

City officials have amended an ordinance that called for potential jail time and a $500 fine for anyone unlucky enough to land the maximum penalty for parking violations.With the amendment, repeat parking offenders face a maximum fine of $100 and no jail time.

During discussion, police officer Brent Teske said that a maximum fine keeps the "bite" in the law and should be kept in place to dissuade potential repeat offenders."We have a lot of repeat offenders…by taking the teeth out of it, by taking the maximum fine out of it, you're just making it more available for them not to comply," Teske said.City court judge Lucille Briggs agreed that the possibility of maximum penalty provides a valuable deterrent, though it's hardly ever handed down."

It would be highly unusual in my court if I put anyone in jail for a parking ticket, Briggs said.City attorney Charles Evans said in this instance the punishment of the current ordinance does not fit the crime.

"I think it's way overkill," he said.The maximum fines for junk vehicles will remain at $500. The council also heard from Mike Cirian, an environmental engineer with the EPA, on the remediation status during the last seven months.Cirian, who said the costs totaled about $12,000 per month, put the cleanup costs so far this year at $60,448. According to his report, the EPA and its contractor cleaned 57 properties since October of 2006.

His presentation encompassed administrative tallies like costs and personnel hours, but the council asked about a general timeline for the remainder of the remediation project in Libby.Cirian responded with a time frame of three to seven years, but stressed that that estimation is a "wild guess." In other action, council members:     Approved ordinance 1684 thereby deciding to participate in the Municipal Police Officers' Retirement System.     Granted Gary Doubek's request to shut down part of Mineral Avenue to vehicle traffic from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. during the nights of July 27 and 28. Doubek owns the Pastime Bar at 216 Mineral Ave.     Agreed to schedule further discussion about city well ordinances for the next council meeting in August. The Winslows, of 1402 Renwood Drive, have requested permission to build a well on their property. However, city ordinances prohibit such action. Mayor Tony Berget said the complications involved merit further discussion. "It was a pretty hot topic," Berget told The Western News. "The Winslows would only be the tip of the iceberg."