SAGINAW (WJRT) -
(05/08/14) - A parking lot attendant is looking for drivers parking on someone else's dime - or quarter - and he's turning back the meter.
But is it fair?
The public and his bosses are speaking out. It's a story you'll only see on ABC 12.
Most would look at time remaining on a parking meter as a 'pay it forward' type thing. Instead, in Saginaw County, the parking attendant often 'turns back the clock'.
There are two metered parking lots near the Saginaw County Courthouse.
Property manager and developer Brian Wellman is a frequent customer, since he spends a lot of time at the courthouse. A few months ago, he noticed parking lot attendant Lonnie Sampson on the job. But Sampson wasn't just checking for parking violations. That's when Wellman started shooting video on his cell phone.
"He stopped in front of the meters without cars parked in front of them, and he was doing something to the meter," Wellman said.
In the video, Sampson appears to be resetting the meters at spots where no car is parked, taking away time that was already paid for.
Wellman believes that's wrong.
"The sign right here says, '30 minutes for each quarter,' it doesn't say '30 minutes for each quarter, or until your car is moved,'" he said.
Saginaw County Controller Robert Belleman was not aware that Sampson was removing the extra time on meters. He says Sampson admits he's been doing it for at least four years.
"He has to open the meter up and push a button to reset it, sometimes he does it, sometimes he doesn't," Belleman said. "I applaud him for the initiative."
Belleman is not sure the practice should continue. He estimates the county takes in about $115,000 in parking meter fees and tickets. Belleman says there has been no increase in revenue since Sampson started setting the meters back to zero.
"The bigger question, is government here to serve the people or are people here to serve the government?" Wellman said.
Sampson declined to talk about the matter on camera.
Jason Frisbie, of Breckenridge, got 46 free minutes in this spot thanks to the person who was there before him. He doesn't think that extra time should be taken away by anyone.
"It's great, I don't have to get my quarters out. I hate to pay for parking," he said. "I think somebody paid for those minutes, someone should be able to use them."
Belleman says he will talk with county commissioners to see if the practice of resetting parking meters should be continued.