For the month of August, authorities in Tuscaloosa, Alabama are reviving a 2019 program that allows people with downtown overtime parking tickets — meaning they were ticketed for staying in a parking space too long — to pay down their tickets by donating school supplies.
Ticket holders can donate school supplies of up to $10 in value to pay off one overtime parking ticket worth $18. They can donate school supplies of up to $20 in value in order to pay off two overtime parking tickets.
Tuscaloosa Municipal Court staff will assign values to the supplies. A sample list provided by the city suggests that scientific calculators would fetch $9, for example. However, anyone who wants to contest the value of an item is also free to bring in a receipt.
After collecting the items, court staff hands the donated supplies to the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education to distribute to students in need.
Marion Williams, the municipal court administrator who has been in charge of overseeing the program, said they were able to dispose of 195 tickets during the program’s first run that year.
She has acknowledged the program will cost the city money because they won’t be able to gather the revenue generated by the parking tickets.
“But that’s not what it’s about… It won’t only help the students and the parents but it also helps the violator to be able to give back, to be able to contribute and help,” she said.
Williams said that since they started the program in 2019, much of the public went “above and beyond” what was asked, giving more than $10 in school supplies in order to have their parking ticket taken care of.
She is heartened by the public response to the previous iterations of the program and expects ticket holders to once again take part in the program this year. There are currently 967 outstanding overtime parking tickets.
“People still want to help. They still want to help others. And there are still people with good hearts and that’s what it’s all about,” Williams said.