A unidentified man speaks with a worker at the Municipal Court office on Wednesday. The city has seen revenue raised from fines drop nearly in half in the last five years. KEVIN CANFIELD/The Frontier

The good news for the city of Tulsa is that folks who have been ticketed for one reason or another typically pay their fines.

The bad news — for the city’s coffers — is that fewer tickets are being issued.

As for that crackdown on ne’re-do-wells who would park in a handicapped-parking space when, in fact, they are hale and hearty? Well, that isn’t working out so well.

Those are among the findings to come out of the city’s latest dashboard, this one on the Municipal Court system.

“Dashboard” is a term used to describe an interactive computer graphic. The city has created four dashboards so far with the hope of informing and engaging the public on key issues of importance to the community. The other dashboards cover citywide outcomes, animal welfare and community policing.

James Wagner, the city’s chief of performance strategy and innovation, said the Municipal Court dashboard sheds light on a less publicized but essential piece of the justice system.

“I guess for me it’s just an enlightenment of what Municipal Court does and showing that through data,” Wagner said. “We think of court and we just think that’s, you know, District Court, but Municipal Court handles a lot of what happens in sort of the more minor violations of law, and it is not a small amount.”

The city issues tens of thousands of tickets a year, and Municipal Court filing cabinets are packed with about 90,000 outstanding warrants for people who either did not pay their fines or did not appear in court to contest them.

Yet business has actually slowed since 2012, the first year covered by the city’s Municipal Court dashboard. There were 92,500 fines issued in 2012 versus 62,258 in 2016, a decline of 33 percent. With the decline in fines issued came a decline in fines collected. Over the same period, fine collections dropped from $10.8 million to approximately $5.8 million.

“We have felt the pain, because you just notice a decline in the workload,” said Municipal Court Administrator Kelly Brader. “You see it in our court dockets. When I first came over to courts, they would be in court until 12:30 or one o’clock, break long enough to come back, and then do jury trials.

“Now there is not as many people coming; they are ignoring it, or we just don’t have the tickets.”

That’s one reason Brader has seen her staff reduced by about 30 percent to 40 percent since she became court administrator four years ago.

“Our budget, it was right at $3 million, and (now) we’re just barely at $1.9 million,” she said.

The upside: From 2012 through 2016, 90 percent of the fines issued were paid.

Source: City of Tulsa

The fine not being paid at a high rate is the one issued for handicapped-parking violations. The City Council in 2014 decided to crack down on people who were using handicapped-parking spaces without the proper permit. To put some strength in the ordinance, the fine for such a violation was increased from $150 to $500 — the maximum allowed by state law.

Three years later, more tickets are being issued for handicapped-parking violations but a smaller percentage of people are paying the fines.

In 2012 and 2013, the city issued about 50 tickets a year for handicapped-parking violations. Since the City Council upped the fine to $500,  an average of about 135 tickets a year have been issued. Yet this has not necessarily translated into a revenue boon for the city. In 2012, only 20.4 percent of people fined for a handicapped-parking violation didn’t make good on their payments. In 2016, the percentage was 35 percent.

Put another way, 24. 5 percent of people paid their handicapped-parking fines in 2012  — with the figure spiking to 36.3 percent in 2014  — but only 18.7 percent paid their fines in 2016.

This graphic created by the city of Tulsa shows that while the city has issued more tickets since 2014 for illegally parking in a handicapped-parking space, the percentage of people paying their handicapped-parking tickets has declined.

The city’s dashboards do more than provide data. With the use of maps and graphics that viewers can manipulate, they make the information digestible. Want to know where prostitutes have been ticketed? Click on the year or years you want information on, and the locations appear on a map.

The same locator maps are available for larcenies. Most larcenies occur at retail stores, particularly big-box stores like Wal-Mart, according to the Municipal Court dashboard.

Brader, the Municipal Court administrator, said this has to do in part with the fact that larger stores have security staffs dedicated to stopping thieves; therefore, more cases are reported to the police.

Larcenies are the one violation of law for which the city has seen an uptick in tickets issued, and no part of town has been spared.

“You see they are evenly dispersed across the city, it’s not just one area of town,” said Robyn Undieme, the project manager overseeing the creation of the dashboards.

The Municipal Court dashboard provides 11 categories of information, including where and how many speeding tickets have been issued since 2012; how many people are driving without insurance; and the number of tickets issued for driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license.

For all of the interesting data,  the best and most useful feature of the dashboard might just be the bubbles. Bubbles, that is, with information inside. This interactive graphic — found in the dashboard’s 11th category — makes what could be complicated data seem understandable. And if more information is needed, the user simply scrolls over the bubble and more specifics appear.

The graphic below, for example — shown in a screenshot — shows the number of speeding violations from 2012 through 2016.

Ultimately, the user of the city’s dashboards is the one who determines what data will be presented.

And that, city officials hope, is what will make the dashboards effective tools for understanding and resolving complicate issues related to municipal governance.