Mt. Lebanon no parking

Harry Funk / The Almanac

Mt. Lebanon officials look to improve parking enforcement with license plate recognition.

By all indications, mobile license plate recognition is coming to the Mt. Lebanon Police Department.

In tandem with proposed new regulations governing overnight parking, municipal officials are pursuing the use of technology that helps identify vehicles that do or don’t belong in certain places at certain times.

“With all these new rules comes a need for consistency in enforcement and also efficiency in enforcement,” said police Chief Aaron Lauth during Tuesday’s Mt. Lebanon Commission discussion session.

He acknowledged his department’s limitations during overnight shifts, as other duties often call officers away from checking for parking scofflaws.

“I think that’s where this license plate recognition piece kicks in,” Lauth said. “It allows that consistency and efficiency to occur.”

The commissioners agreed to move toward putting license plate recognition into service, with an August vote possible in conjunction with the overnight parking ordinance.

In a presentation during the discussion session, parking enforcement supervisor Mark Quealy presented an overview of the technology, including what its implementation would cost the municipality.

The expense for the first year would be $43,580 for cameras, software, installation and training, with subsequent annual costs of $4,380 for software, support and warranty.

“Additional parking enforcement personnel would be required to enforce the overnight ordinance at an annual cost of $50,000 to $60,000,” according to his report.

The result would be the potential for quadrupling the number of tickets issued, with conservative return-on-investment calculations showing “at a minimum, the program would pay for itself.”

Along with monitoring parking overnight, the technology also would be used for enforcement at meters – the Washington Road business district has 441 – and in timed zones, where vehicles are allowed to park for only a limited duration.

Quealy said license plate recognition also helps identify vehicles on “hot lists,” those that are stolen, have expired registrations or are owned by people who are wanted, for example.

On the other side of the law are vehicles on “white lists,” for which their owners have made necessary arrangements to park legally.

“Instead of having to hang a tag, now the credentials for your permit would be your license plate,” Quealy said.

He has been working with municipal finance director Andrew McCreery in taking preparatory measures in advance of implementing license plate recognition.

“There are some back-end things we’re doing now to make sure we’re ready when that time comes, and we’re thinking by the end of the year, all the back end is ready,” McCreery told commissioners.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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