Mon Valley parking meters need attention

November 21, 2013
The parking meters in Charleroi are a year behind schedule for recertification, meaning the validity of any tickets can be challenged in district court. - Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

CHARLEROI – Charleroi and nearby Monongahela need to make a quick change in the way they monitor parking meters in order to guarantee fines will be collected on tickets issued at expired meters.

Both municipalities have parking meters that have not been properly certified, meaning a motorist with a parking ticket has a shot at getting it tossed out by a local district judge.

“We have to pull every meter to have them tested,” said Donn Henderson, Charleroi’s borough manager.

The state Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Weights and Measures used to send a certified meter tester out to municipalities every three years to handle the job of confirming parking meter accuracy, Henderson said.

In 2012, however, Pennsylvania lawmakers required municipalities to find their own certified parking meter testers to perform the task every five years to trim the state’s payroll, Henderson said.

It’s difficult, he said, to find someone with the proper training to test parking meters.

The borough is working with the state Department of Agriculture to ensure a borough employee takes the five-hour class needed to receive such certification and get the proper seals on meters, Henderson said.

“We’d like to get rid of (meters), but we net $20,000 from them,” he said.

Parking meters along McKean Avenue, one of two main streets through downtown Charleroi, do not have any seals proving they are in compliance with the law.

Monongahela’s parking meters lack such seals along Main Street and in a city lot at Second and Main streets.

Monongahela Mayor Bob Kepics said the city is aware of the problem and working to get it corrected.

The city of Washington encountered the same dilemma several years ago, prompting District Judge Robert Redlinger to temporarily dismiss parking tickets, said Tom Kearns, director of the city’s parking authority.

Kearns said the parking meter enforcement officers also were instructed to quit writing tickets until the city’s meters were certified.

Both district judges in the Mon Valley said Thursday they would have to take the noncompliant meters into consideration if someone appealed a parking ticket.

“If that’s the situation I’ll have to have evidence,” said District Judge Mark Wilson in Monongahela.

The Mon Valley municipality of Donora, meanwhile, removed all of the borough’s parking meters in October to help out merchants that do business in the struggling downtown, said borough Mayor John Lignelli.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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