Madeira Beach agrees to hire parking enforcement officer to help beachgoers

People are having trouble operating the city's new meter machines.

Mad Beach visitors need help with city-owned parking meters. [Florida Beach Insider photo]
Mad Beach visitors need help with city-owned parking meters. [Florida Beach Insider photo]

MADEIRA BEACH — The new parking system in city-owned lots, which requires motorists to enter their license plate number to park, is causing problems. The City Commission recently acted to help would-be parkers with that, and other parking related issues.

The commission unanimously approved adding a part-time parking enforcement officer to work from spring break through September, to provide added coverage when daylight hours increase over the summer. The officer will work 20-25 hours a week, and assist the parking department’s two fulltime enforcement officers.

Though called an “enforcement officer,” Parking Supervisor Brian Rau said that is not the main purpose for the new hire.

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“They will have a ticketing machine, but that’s not their focus,” Rau said. “The focus will be on customer service.”

The help is needed because the city’s new license plate-based parking system is not working as smoothly as planned.

“People are having a heck of a time putting their license plate number in,” Rau said. “We are constantly helping people. We tell them, ‘Take a picture with your phone, walk over, type it in.’”

“But the people make typos. About 15 percent of the parking purchases have to be voided because of typos. Literally, they just type the wrong number into the machine,” he said.

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Mayor Maggi Black said she knows, from personal experience, “a lot of people don’t know how to work the machines.”

The commission voted unanimously to spend about $7,000 needed to hire a seasonal part time parking officer.

This article was originally published by Tampa Bay Newspapers on April 4, 2019.

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Wayne Ayers is a correspondent for Tampa Bay Newspapers.