Chicago alderman and mayoral candidate Bob Fioretti (2nd) on Wednesday introduced an ordinance that would allow parking scofflaws to clear their debts and bring an influx of much-needed cash into city coffers.
"Let’s give people the opportunity to pay their tickets in a responsible way," Fioretti said in a Tuesday statement previewing his proposal. "It is the responsible thing to do and I hope my colleagues and the mayor can join me in supporting this ordinance."
Under Fioretti's offer, commuters who owe up to $10,000 could wipe the slate clean by paying the face value on parking tickets issued prior to April 15, 2014. The amnesty program would kick in April 15 of this year and last through the end of 2017.
In addition, two payment options would be established. Under one payment plan, motorists would pay 50 percent of their total debt up-front and then agree to pay the remaining 50 percent in "12 equal installments" provided they don't have a "history of defaults."
A second option, offered to veterans and low-income senior citizens, would require a 25 percent initial payment followed by 24 installments.
“The proposed amnesty would actually be harmful to many people. With a multi-year plan like the one Alderman Fioretti is proposing, the City could lose millions in much-needed revenue that goes towards paying for critical neighborhood services like public safety and garbage collection," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. We have always recognized that there is a need to help Chicago residents who face financial hardship while at the same time ensuring taxpayers are protected by collecting what is owed to the City."
A similar amnesty program in 2008 brought in more than $7 million to city coffers, Fioretti reminded. That program ran for 10 weeks and allowed drivers to clear their debts to the city by paying their original fines and half of what they owed in penalties.
Fioretti believes the more generous terms of his current proposal would bring in even more and allow commuters to avoid a boot on their cars.
The alderman's plan, however, could make it more difficult for some to come into compliance. Under current city ordinance, a commuter with tickets totaling more than $500 can start a payment plan with a quarter payment or $500, whichever is greater. That means commuters with more than $1,000 in tickets would be required to pay more up front under Fioretti's plan.