If you’re holding on to an unpaid parking ticket – or you’ve got a glove box full of them – now may be the best time to clear your conscience.
An amnesty program for parking scofflaws was approved by the village council March 9, giving motorists a chance to pay a reduced fine on tickets that may be years old. The program, pitched by Police Chief Jim Ryan, will run from March 15 to April 15 and is an effort to encourage debtors to open their checkbooks. A similar offer several years ago pulled in more than $102,000 in unpaid fines, according to Municipal Collection Services Inc., one of two collection agencies that will work on Forest Park’s behalf.
“Based on our past program, we could reach between $90,000 to $120,000 in additional revenue recovery for the village in less than 60 days, and at no out-of-pocket costs to the village,” the company said in a February letter to the village.
Depending on the age of the ticket, drivers will be given a discount of up to 66 percent. New citations, issued in 2007 and 2008, will be discounted 25 percent, according to a memo to the council, and any late fees or penalties will be waived.
Tickets issued in 2005 and 2006 will be reduced by 33 percent; tickets issued between 2002 and 2004 will be cut by 50 percent, and anything written prior to 2002 will be slashed by two-thirds.
The municipality does not control how deeply the tickets will be discounted, according to Ryan. The collection agencies set those rates.
“Our goal is simple, to help ease the financial burden to those who owe us for outstanding parking tickets and reduce the number of debtors to the village,” Ryan said in a prepared statement.
Council members voted unanimously March 9 to approve the program, though Commissioner Marty Tellalian said he was concerned with how the discounts are applied. The incentive for paying a parking ticket on time is lost, he said, by offering a greater discount to those who have tickets from several years ago.
According to Ryan, the collection agencies believe it is easier to recoup money on newer tickets.