The Oak Park Board of Trustees has approved a ticket amnesty program during the next two months that will allow anyone who has received a parking ticket to pay without late fees.
The amnesty program, approved unanimously by the board – Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb was absent for the vote – runs from Feb. 4 to April 4.
The original proposal, presented in January, would have given motorists one month to pay any parking ticket prior to 2018 without the late fees, but trustees requested in January that the timeframe be extended to three months.
Village Manager Cara Pavlicek said a new software system is being installed at village hall, and increasing the window to three months would require an extension of the village’s current software system by a month, which could cost up to $25,000.
Robert Anderson, director of adjudication for the village, said the last ticket amnesty program in 2004 resulted in recouping $100,000 in unpaid fines. Adding another month to the amnesty window might not generate an additional $25,000 to pay for the extension of the village’s expiring software.
“I think it’s a real gamble to say we’re going to cover $150,000 to $200,000 with this amnesty,” he said.
Anderson said at a meeting in January that the village has about 180,000 unpaid parking tickets since 2004 worth about $10 million in unpaid fines.
The measure also approves the village spending about $6,000 to send postcards to scofflaws with tickets from 2015 through 2017 to make them aware of the amnesty program.
Trustee Jim Taglia directed the village to investigate the possibility of extending the amount of time motorists are given to pay tickets. Currently, motorists are given 10 days to pay their tickets. Taglia suggested looking into increasing that number to three weeks.
“There are issues related to that. People don’t have the money, they don’t have the time, and I think it becomes problematic for some people,” Taglia said.
Trustees Bob Tucker and Simone Boutet voiced support for looking into establishing a longer period to pay parking tickets.
“I know there’s data that says the faster you get people the more they pay,” Boutet said. “You get higher collection, but I also know that reality is that sometimes those get put in your monthly bills, they escape you and then you get up charged, so I would look into that.”