Boothbay Harbor approves handheld, tech-based parking enforcement

Selectmen authorize school referendum warrant
Wed, 02/28/2024 - 8:45am

In 2019, a federal appeals court ruled chalking tires for parking enforcement is unconstitutional. Police departments across the country have adapted by using technology, and Boothbay Harbor will soon join in. 

Feb. 26, selectmen approved a new parking enforcement system Police Chief Doug Snyder said will both make enforcement more efficient and keep it legal. He said he plans to implement it by June 1. 

The new system involves a handheld device that takes a photo of a tire stem to see if it has moved. Snyder said the town used tablets for enforcement after the ruling; that was not ideal. He said the new all-in-one system incorporates many functions of parking enforcement and integrates with the town’s current machines. “It’s pretty much foolproof.”

According to Snyder, the device can scan plates to determine if parking has been paid and what time the spot expires. It can also print a ticket. In addition, the service provider will create a website where drivers can pay fines and reserve spaces. 

Snyder expects some challenges adapting to the device, which runs off occasionally spotty wireless internet, and the technology hurdles will be similar to the kiosks. However, overall he expects the system will increase efficiency largely because officers will not have to write tickets. And for those who don't pay their ticket, he said the service provider, not the town, will come to collect the money.  

The board unanimously passed a motion to purchase a parking package from T2 Systems Inc. for $13,375, the cost of the first two years of a three-year agreement. However, the two years will come at no additional cost to taxpayers according to Snyder. He said the town had already provided money to the county for a separate program, which will be returned because the county decided to pay in full; those funds will cover two years of the parking system and the third year’s cost, $3,828, will be built into the town’s budget. 

In other parking business, the selectboard unanimously approved a job title change from “Parking Enforcement Officer” to “Community Service Officer.” Snyder said the job will still primarily be parking enforcement, but the name is friendlier and reflects the job’s other duties, such as helping with events and traffic control.  

In other town business, selectmen authorized the signing of the Boothbay-Boothbay Harbor Community School District referendum warrant for April 24. Chair Michael Tomko said the motion has nothing to do with the language the school district put together, and the selectmen’s job is to take the warrants, put them forward for review and hold the vote.  

“I’m really deeply disappointed that the new warrant was put forth just as it was,” said Selectman Ken Rayle. “Not long ago, we had a warrant put forward for $28 million that was defeated, and now there is one for $30 million. I don’t feel as though perhaps the superintendent, or the board heard or gave acknowledgement to the concern over the price or the scope of the project.” 

As reported in the Register, the school district board of trustees unanimously approved a referendum around a $29,975,000 renovation project for the Boothbay region middle-elementary school. The new referendum follows a $28.8 million question that failed in November. However, despite cutting almost $4 million of work, the district said the new project is more expensive largely due to millions of dollars in escalation costs and rolled-in repairs initially planned separately.   

“Make no mistake a real upgrade is needed for the K-8 program, and I was quite a supporter of an active and good K-8 program, but it seems as though there could be more recognition of the thoughts and wishes and concerns of the residents prior to this moving forward,” Rayle said. “I'm glad it's on the ballot, though, for the people to decide.”