parking meters

Parking fines now will be based on the severity of the infraction, based on the new fee schedule approved Tuesday by the Omaha City Council.

Omaha drivers, pay attention to where you park. And plan to pay your parking tickets quickly to shave $6 off the cost.

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved an updated set of parking fines that starts at $16. Some tickets will cost a lot more, from $32 for blocking a fire hydrant to $100 for expired plates.

Omaha has been an outlier among cities by charging the same amount for most parking tickets, $16, including for parking in a handicapped spot. Fees will now be based on the severity of the infraction.

The measure aims to encourage higher payment rates of parking fines, said Ken Smith, the city’s parking and mobility manager. The goal is to increase the rate to 85% or more, from about 70% currently, he said.

Part of how the city hopes to do that is by giving people a $6 discount if they pay a ticket within 48 hours. The city will keep in place a $20 late fee for payments made after more than 30 days.

Park Omaha, which manages parking for the city, is encouraging people with three or more tickets older than 30 days to pay up.

The council also voted to switch to a windshield cap called the Barnacle for people with three past-due parking tickets.

The device attaches to the front windshield of a vehicle and can be removed after payment of outstanding fees. The city would give people who get “Barnacled” 24 hours to pay off fines before towing their vehicle.

The city has been using a wheel clamp called a boot to disable cars with three past-due tickets; booted vehicles are towed as soon as possible.