Unexpected Change Comes to City Hall

Learning something new every day is one of the best parts of my job.  That’s what happens when I work among specialists (engineers, planners, police officers, firefighters, attorneys, utilities experts), interact with citizens and track down answers almost daily to media questions.

A couple of weeks ago, the city’s Fiscal Services Office called and asked if I knew of a bank or private business that could exchange foreign currency into American dollars.  It seems Fiscal had taken possession of coins — no paper money — from at least 30 different countries, but hadn’t been able to find a way to convert them to U.S. dollars.

Knowing that the city sometimes accumulates unusual items through police seizures, my guess was that the coins came from a criminal case.

“No, they were collected over time from our parking meters,” I was told.

The idea that dozens of coins from Thailand, Hungary, Israel and South Korea, to name a few, were dropped (forced?) into city parking meters really surprised me.  But I suppose it makes sense when you consider the number of international students and visitors in College Station.

Although foreign coins may have fooled our parking meters in the past, those days are gone since the Planning & Development Services Department has replaced the old meters with new, high-tech models that accept credit and debit cards in addition to coins. You can drop in as many euros as you like, but no credit will appear on the meter.

Meanwhile, if you have any suggestions about where a pile of foreign coins can be exchanged, I’m eager to learn that, too.

Jay Socol
Jay Socol
Director | Public Communications
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4 responses

  1. Won’t a bank – you can deposit them in the Citys’ account?

    March 19, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    • Sheila: Fiscal Services apparently tried that route, but learned that currency from some countries isn’t accepted for exchange. Banks are willing to help us with some currency, but not all. So, that’s why we’re currently stuck with a pile of coins.

      -jgs

      March 19, 2012 at 3:11 pm

  2. Most major international airports (Houston, Austin) should have exchange kiosks.

    March 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm

  3. If we can pay for parking with coins from Malta, then we’re up for a road trip.

    -jgs

    March 19, 2012 at 5:33 pm

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