FARMINGTON – A split vote at the last selectmen’s meeting that rejected doubling the $100 fine for the driver who illegally parks in a parking space reserved for the disabled reversed their decision tonight.
Selectmen originally shot down a proposed $200 fine if a driver illegally parks in a handicap space without the proper identification card hung on the dashboard mirror and/or a special designation on the license plate when several updates to the town’s traffic ordinance were made two weeks ago. Farmington’s traffic ordinance for illegally parking in a handicap space was set at $100, but the state has increased the penalty fine to “not less than $200 and not more than $500,” according to the state statute.
Much of the discussion two weeks ago swirled around the idea of doubling a fine for something not seen as a problem. Selectman John Frary noted he is a card-carrying member of drivers who can park in a disabled-only space and had asked police Chief Richard Caton, III, for documentation that tickets were issued. He got his answer tonight. According to Caton, last year 35 parking tickets were issued for handicap parking violations. Twenty-six were voided when drivers showed up with proof they actually have disabled placards but didn’t display them and nine tickets were paid. This year so far, four handicap parking tickets were issued; one was voided and three were paid.
On hearing that municipalities can’t discount parking ticket prices from what the state law orders and, it was also pointed out that the town collects its share of parking ticket fines based on the town ordinance, with the rest going to Augusta, Frary made a motion in the handicap parking ticket matter.
“We must do what the state compels us to do and set a levy of $200,” Frary said. The vote was unanimous.
After a short executive session, selectmen appointed Joyce Morton to serve as an interim MSAD 9 school board director after Francis Orcutt resigned his 40-year post due to health reasons. Morton, after nine-and-a-half-year stint on the board had decided not to seek reelection this year, but has agreed to step in and finish Orcutt’s term of one more year.
Morton’s experience on the board was thought especially important because of the continuing complicated consolidation issues and the fact that four members of the 15-member board are newly elected.
“I’ll do my best,” she said.