Motorists who object to parking tickets issued in the Village of Oak Harbor will soon have a new appeals process.
Oak Harbor’s new parking ticket bureau should be operational in days. Police Chief Steve Weirich said he is only waiting on a printer to return the new tickets. He expects to have the tickets in hand within two weeks and the new program will be under way after their arrival.
Village council created the parking ticket bureau this summer as a direct result of a dispute that landed the City of Port Clinton in hot water two years ago, Mayor Bill Eberle said.
City leaders had to shell out $45,000 in a settlement to Jeffrey C. Zilba, a lawyer, after a judge ruled a $20 ticket issued on Madison Street near the Ottawa County Courthouse in the summer of 2011 was illegal because the vehicle’s owner had no proper recourse to dispute the ticket.
The citation claimed Zilba had parked at a “yellow curb” although there was no sign in the area warning that parking was not permitted.
Zilba was told to pay $20 within two weeks or $25 within 30 days or he would be charged with a misdemeanor. He paid the fine and then filed a lawsuit.
In the settlement, Port Clinton officials also promised to revise the appeal procedure to be consistent with the law.
Prior to the creation of the parking bureau, Oak Harbor council members, Weirich and village solicitor Jim Barney discussed the merits of the bureau for months, including scheduling and personnel.
Barney told council the parking tickets could be treated two ways – as criminal or civil complaints. Criminal would be harder to enforce because the ticket has to actually be handed to the driver, Barney told council, according to May 6 council minutes.
Taking the civil course is a much better option, he explained.
The village determines a fine, creates an appeals process and hires a hearing officer.
Ticket fines will remain $10, as they were before, Weirich said Monday.
The hearing officer will be Greg Greggila, a former Ohio State Highway Patrol employee who lives in town, Weirich said. “He volunteered to do it for us,” the chief said.
The hearings will be held quarterly and Greggila will be paid a quarterly salary of $100, fiscal officer Debbie Carpenter said.
Weirich said he expects less than a handful of appeals per year.
On average, village police officers write between 60 and 70 tickets annually, the chief said. Currently, those tickets are paid at the police station. Unpaid tickets are sent to the Ottawa County Municipal Court.
Judge Frederick Hany recently “gave his blessing” to Oak Harbor’s new appeal process, the police chief said.