BATH — Parking violators may soon be facing tougher penalties, after the City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved first passage of an ordinance that would increase fines for the first time since 2009.

The new fine structure was recommended by police and the city’s Transportation Committee. Second and final passage is expected Dec. 5.

Police Chief Mike Field, in an Oct. 30 memo to the council, said fines for certain violations were too low to serve as a deterrent to violators.

He called for doubling fines in no-parking and overtime zones to $30; more than doubling the fine for parking within 10 feet of a driveway, from $10 to $25; a $5 increase to $40 for parking within 10 feet of a fire hydrant, and doubling the fine to $30 for parking in a bus zone.

No changes are proposed within Bath’s downtown business district.

In comparison, according to Field, all fines are $30 in Freeport and $25 in Brunswick, and in Portland they are comparable to the fee increases called for in Bath.

“These fines may seem to be a large increase,” he said. “But parking concerns, especially in the south end of our community, are constant. These fines hopefully will deter illegal parking with more of a financial inconvenience.”

The city has issued about 2,400 tickets in the south end since January, Traffic Safety Officer Ryan Kaake said earlier Wednesday. Another 500-600 have been issued in that time in the business district, but fines there are already comparable with surrounding communities, Kaake explained.

“There’s enough of a financial burden to keep people from illegally parking, for the most part,” he said.

Council Chairwoman Mari Eosco noted that the increased fines are not meant to make money, but rather to encourage parkers to follow the rules.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.