Town lets parking violators pay tickets with canned goods for food bank

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COTTAGE GROVE, Wis., (CNN) — One Wisconsin town is introducing an innovative way to curb illegal parking and help the needy at the same time. It’s allowing people to pay parking ticket fines with food donations.

Seeing that little colored envelope on your windshield isn’t a welcome sight because it usually contains your parking ticket.

But the police chief in Cottage Grove, Wis., Daniel Layber, says a short-term program that the village board just approved will save people money on those tickets and help the greater community.

“So in lieu of paying the parking ticket, people can make donations to our Cottage Grove food pantry,” said Layber.

Anyone who gets a parking ticket in the village will also get a little flyer in there as well. It’ll tell them exactly how they can pay off their parking tickets with that food donation. Within 10 days of getting a ticket, people can bring up to five non-perishable, not-expired food items to the police department.

Each qualifying item has a $5 value and five items can pay off a ticket. The police chief says while it will cause a dip in the village’s revenue, it won’t be extensive.

“Our parking ticket revenue isn’t all that much, but it’s more of a sanction to make sure people are parking their cars correctly for snow removal, things like that.”

The program, though, is not for repeat offenders.

“We’re not going to have people with 2, 3, 4, 5 parking tickets qualifying after that,” said Layber. “We would like this to be for first-timers only.”

Handicap and fire lane parking violations are not eligible for the program.

Chief Layber says it was actually his wife’s idea to let parking violators pay with food.

The program is set to continue until the end of January.

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