KINGSTON Council will refund over $2 million in parking fines after they discovered their process for reviewing fine appeals may have been improper.
Kingston Council had outsourced their appeal process for fines to an external agency between 2006 and 2016, a process that council now believes is in violation of the Infringements Act 2006.
The mayor Georgina Oxley said fines issued in the municipality that were unsuccessfully appealed and then paid between 2006 and 2016 would be refunded. She estimated around 20,000 fines worth around $2.3 million would be impacted.
“It is common for councils, and potentially some state agencies, to outsource the issuing of infringement tickets to an external contractor, however there have been concerns raised that the legislation may not allow external agencies to conduct appeals,” Cr Oxley said.
“In 2016 we received advice that, although the wording of the act wasn’t clear, our processes were acceptable. We wanted to remove any confusion and since 2016 have conducted all reviews ourselves. However, we recently received updated advice and council now believes that the introduction of the act meant the final decision of the review should not have been outsourced, and that council rather than its contractor should have undertaken the review.
“For that reason, we want to be fair and transparent and therefore will be refunding appealed fines during the 10 year period. We are in the final stages of preparing the refund process and will have further details in coming weeks.”
Council is currently finalising its list of motorists who will have their fines repaid.
Councillors discussed the matter behind closed doors at a special meeting on 4 March.
Council will write to the state attorney general asking for legislative change to remove confusion around the wording of the Infringements Act.
It is believed Kingston is one of a number of councils that will be made to hand back fines to motorists as a result of outsourcing their appeal process.