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Gainesville may add $10 fee to citations
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Gainesville Police Department officials are proposing an ordinance that would add $10 to each of its violation fines as a "technology fee" to help the department and Municipal Court go paperless.

This fee would apply to any violation of any law or ordinance under the city or state, but not seatbelt violations.

Municipal Court workers have tried to start this step toward more efficiency by accepting credit card payments online and scanning documents to keep digital case files.

"We're trying to get this in place so when officers are on the street and use the laptop in their vehicles, it'll go automatically to police and court records," Melody Marlowe, the city's administrative services director, told council members during Thursday's work session.

"It'll save us the time and resources of data entry and help us keep more accurate files."

Currently, four people on the city staff enter reports and tickets into computer files, said City Manager Kip Padgett.

The new paperless system will also help police with crime analysis, statistics and trends to initiate more proactive and preventive measures in areas where crime is high, Police Chief Brian Kelly said.

"We've been talking about this for several years," he said. "It's a definite benefit for the city and customer relations because we can prepare documents sooner."

Kelly estimates the fee will generate about $100,000 per year and will help them get a "good start" on purchasing software that will connect computers within the police department, Municipal Court, Code Enforcement Division and city marshal's office. He studied similar programs around the state, which tack on $10 to $35 fees.

"The people who violate the law are the ones who pay for it," Padgett said. "We're one of the few governments our size who don't do this yet."

If passed by the council, the ordinance will take effect in November.

In other business, council members decided to drop an ordinance that would restrict parking on Ridgewood Avenue between Circle Drive and Wilshire Road.

The Public Works office received a complaint about cars parked on the street several weeks ago, and traffic engineer Dee Taylor decided the road isn't wide enough for a parking lane and two lanes of traffic, causing cars to cross the yellow line and drive in the other lane.

When Ridgewood residents were contacted about the new ordinance, two responded in favor of the idea and two were opposed.

"It's whether we want to be proactive or reactive, and this is my attempt at being proactive," Taylor said. "Do we wait until someone is sideswiped or gets hit head on?"

Steve Riddle and Julie Whitlow, who have both lived on the street for 20 years, said they haven't heard of any accidents on the stretch of road. Although the space is a tight fit, they don't have long driveways or places for visitors to park.

"I've been parking on that road for 20 years," Riddle said. "This will pose a serious problem for me."

Council members decided to leave the road as it is now.

"My philosophy is, ‘If it ain't broke, don't fix it,'" council member George Wangemann said. "I'm prone to say this after the same kind of issue came up in my neighborhood. You don't want to inconvenience the residents or make their visitors walk 10 blocks to their home just because they have a small driveway and park in the road."