Inside look at the Colorado Springs Parking Enforcement Officer

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — With more than 2,500 parking meters in Colorado Springs, most of us have probably put money in one of them at some point.

But, have you ever wondered where all that money is going and how they give out tickets?

Colorado Springs has three full-time parking enforcement officers. They are paid for by the Parking Enterprise. Each officer has three different areas they patrol.

I followed one of the Parking Enforcement Officers around for the day, and I learned that writing a parking ticket takes only takes about three seconds. I also discovered this job is not for the weary. You have to have tough skin and be in shape for this job.

Jill Hessek has been patrolling the parking meters in Colorado Springs for eight years.

“I enjoy being outside, walking. I like being in the sun, getting the fresh air, smelling the flowers, talking to people and not having a cubicle desk job,” Jill Hessek, Parking Enforcement Officer for Colorado Springs.

But being a Parking Enforcement Officer isn’t always an easy job. While FOX21 was walking the streets with her, she was called several mean names.

“Parking Nazi, Parking Witch, give everybody a freebie, sometimes people yell and tell us to get a real job,” Hessek said. “I do have thick skin. I am very used to it.”

The city does give drivers some incentives to park downtown. Every day they have two randomly selected meters called “Free Lucky Parking Meters,” which means people can park there for free all day long.

“They’ll have two of these. Some people don’t think it’s not a legitimate thing, but it is, it truly is. It’s great for them to shop and eat and so they have their free parking,” Hessek said.

A parking ticket in Colorado Springs will run you $20.

If you don’t pay it after seven days, they tag on a onetime fee of $5.

And while the city doesn’t offer payment plans, you can make partial payments for no additional fee.

Parking officials said it’s best to pay your parking tickets as you get them, because if you don’t, you can get a fine put on top of that.

If the tickets accumulate, you could get a boot put on your car.

“Depending if they have 10 or less boots it’s a $25 boot fee. And if they have 10 or more it’s a $50 boot fee, and as soon as they pay all the tickets in cash, they will come and remove the boot once all the tickets are paid,” Hessek said.

Hessek said each meter has a five-minute grace period after it expires, but parking tickets aren’t the only citations they give out.

“Handicap, we can give loading zone tickets, fire lane tickets, fire hydrant tickets, manner of parking is another big one that we get. If they are parked over the line or in two parking spaces that is a $30 ticket,” Hessek said.

Parking revenue for 2014 was around $604,598.50, and that’s with more than 34,233 parking tickets issued.

Hessek said outside the courthouse is where most tickets are issued, and in the summer things also pick up.

Colorado Springs store owners said they’re happy to have parking meters downtown.

“Parking meters are good. Most people do not like them, but if we don’t have parking meters then the parking will never change over and turn over for new customers to come in and park. Employees will end up parking down here and there will never be anywhere to park then,” Dorinda Gianarelli, Owner of What’s in Store, said.

But not everyone is a fan of parking meters.

“I’ve gotten about three parking tickets since I have lived in town, and it definitely is a hassle,” Colorado Springs resident Kaelynn Strand said.

In the end, Hessek wants people to know one important thing about parking enforcement officers.

“We are friendly people. We are just doing our job, and we want people to be happy and we want people to come and enjoy downtown Colorado Springs,” Hessek said.

According to the city, the parking ticket revenue goes to the general fund.

They said parking tickets are one of the annual revenue sources that are included in the total general fund revenue and are used to fund the highest priority needs of the city.

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