Simplified: The City of Sioux Falls hasn't refunded a parking ticket since 2017. But, that doesn't mean every ticket written gets paid. Here's a closer look at what happens after tickets are issued and why the process is the way it is.

Why it matters

  • The city's parking team writes an average of more than 31,000 parking tickets per year, according to data obtained by Sioux Falls Simplified. Of those, very few – only 37 in the last five years – make it to the formal appeals process.
  • But that's not the full picture. Parking Manger Matt Nelson says parking tickets are dismissed on the daily. They're just not waived before ever making it to the formal review process.
  • The city's review process, which changed in 2013 after advice following an IRS audit, requires a $5 fee for people who want to contest tickets. And while that fee ensures some skin in the game, it doesn't begin to cover the costs of formal hearings for contested tickets.
"We resolve most of those issues before they go through that process," Nelson said.

Wait, why even have a formal review process?

Fair. To understand that, we have to go back in time about a decade.

Before the changes in 2013, parking ticket disputes were resolved in hearings conducted by a variety of folks, often former police officers, working on contract, Nelson said.

  • But, an IRS audit of the appeals system recommended that because these folks were so closely tied to the city, they should be city employees.
"We had to change the entire process because we couldn't have what was essentially an employee making independent decisions on the city's behalf from a legal perspective," Nelson said.

So, the parking ticket appeals process got rolled into the existing code enforcement appeals process, which runs through the city attorney's office.

  • Code enforcement appeals typically cost $50 to submit, but the fee was lowered to $5 for parking tickets, Nelson said.

That said, it's quite a to-do to appeal a parking ticket. So, Nelson said, most of the time – "probably almost daily" – the city will opt to circumvent the process.

So, what should I do if I get a ticket I feel wasn't deserved?

Your best bet is to take it in to City Hall and explain the situation.

If you want to try for the formal review process, you can also find the appeals form here.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated where to go to dispute parking tickets. You should take them to City Hall.