Council approves purchase of license plate cameras

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By Thomas Clapper

CCM Reporter

Carrollton Village Council agreed to move forward with the purchase of a Flock Camera system and discussed the parking situation in the village April 8.

Community member and local business owner Grant Bake met with other business owners talking about parking structure and how it is affecting businesses downtown and customers. The top three responses to a survey conducted is there is no parking, it is hard to park and there is nothing to do. 

“We all have vision of Carrollton growing and a mindset of progressing,” said Bake. We want to have events, things to do and grow as a community. As we do this, we wonder how we are going to manage parking.”

Bake said in his opinion and those he met with, one major parking problem is the pricing is currently mixed. 

“One area will have paid parking passes, another will have meters for five cents per hour, some is two hour parking with no meters, there is no consistency,” said Bake. “It is not utilized to its full potential. I don’t know how to welcome new visitors and business owners with no parking.”

Bake said there are companies such as one called Honk Mobile that is a park and pay system. He and other businesses had a presentation by Honk Mobile. Basically, all that would be needed is signage, there is no kiosks or parking meters, it is all digitalized. It is a sign with a QR code that would be scanned, and license plate entered. Prices can be set for whatever the village desires to charge to park. Cost is $200 a month for the software. There would be no different parking zones, all the parking would be this. 

Bake said businesses could offer promos where entering the businesses promo code would save money. 

Police would get software that allows them to see everyone’s license plate and who paid to park. 

Police Officer Theodore Bointnott and Village Administrator Mark Wells both posed the question of what an 80 year old grandmother who doesn’t have a smart phone or doesn’t want one is supposed to do.

“As a business we are going to have to help our customers,” replied Bake. “Maybe offer free parking on weekends for example. But I realize there is a part of the demographic that is not familiar with smart phones and technology, but it is very slim. If we figure out a solution for that small amount of people, then the greater whole can benefit from it.”

Wells brought up Ohio House Bill 442 which was just introduced on March 7. This would “require the Director of Public Safety to adopt standards authorizing persons to pay for parking meters via multiple payment methods.”

“I am not sure how this will play out, but if it passes it could negate the one source of payment method and programs such as Honk Mobile,” said Wells. 

Bake was informed there are 259 parking spaces in the village, 50 in the permit lot and 82 in two-hour parking and the rest metered. 

Carrollton Police Chief Tim Timberlake said they make approximately $130 a month from meters and more from parking tickets depending on how many are paid. He noted the ticket fines just went up as well which will add more revenue.

“As a business owner I agree with Grant Bake,” said Timberlake. “There has to be something done with the parking in the village. But I can foresee some problems with the system Bake wants. Someone could pay to park all day in front of other people’s businesses and never even enter the business. So, there would be the same vehicle in front of your business sitting all day. Also, from a law enforcement standpoint, if officers are using their phones for work duties, the department would have to pay for their phone bills.”

“I certainly agree the system we have is not a good system,” said Wells. “Finding one that works for everybody is going to be difficult to do. I appreciate Grant’s efforts.”

“I think any system we come up with will have some pitfalls,” said Timberlake. “I agree with Grant that something has to be done, but we have to get it right.”

“It is a good problem to have,” said Wells. “The businesses are getting people into the village, we just have to do the best that we can do to accommodate that.”

In an unrelated matter, council agreed to move forward with the Flock Camera system. 

Cost is $33,250 to purchase all equipment and year subscription to the service. There is a $15,000 annual fee after that. The equipment cost is going to be used from the oil and gas fund since it is being used for safety in the community. 

“Remember these are only plate reader cameras, it is not used by law enforcement to ticket people for speeding or anything like that,” said Wells. “The cameras are used to solve crimes and in the event of an abduction or something in the village, they can use it.”

Timberlake gave the example of if someone in Illinois for example commits a crime in Illinois but flees through Carrollton, the flock camera can recognize the wanted person’s license plate and notify the Carrollton PD, who can therefore attempt to apprehend the subject and turn them over to Illinois police. 

Timberlake said Sheriff Calvin Graham met with Flock Friday (April 5), but he was not sure what came out of the meeting. He doesn’t know how it would work or how they would be jointly working with the county.

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