Scofflaw's paradise: The Village of Oak Park is considering waiving all remaining unpaid parking tickets issued between 2004 and 2017. | File photo

The village of Oak Park’s parking ticket amnesty program has closed, but the effort to collect on unpaid tickets resulted in a lower response than expected, resulting in about $60,000 for the village.

The amnesty program gave all those who have not paid their tickets the chance to pay between February and early May, minus the late fees.

The amnesty program applied to those who received tickets between 2004 and 2017. Oak Park’s last effort to collect on unpaid tickets in 2004 netted the village $100,000.

The amnesty program this year resulted in payment on 1,892 of roughly 48,000 unpaid tickets. 

“Personally, it’s a little lower than I thought we would like to have seen,” Village Manager Cara Pavlicek told trustees at the June 10 village board meeting. 

The village is now recommending that those late tickets be waived. Pavlicek said the village is in the process of implementing a new technology to collect and process parking tickets, which would require importing parking-ticket data from the old system.

Importing that data could be costly, she said, but Pavlicek did not specify how expensive or burdensome the process would be.

Trustee Simone Boutet suggested that the village use the Illinois Debt Recovery Program [IDROP] to collect on the unpaid tickets. Under that system, unpaid tickets can be garnished from tax refunds or lottery winnings. 

Trustee Deno Andrews said the program could still recover a substantial amount of money from scofflaw motorists.

A village memo noted that the IDROP program only applies to debt owed within the last seven years. 

Trustee Dan Moroney voiced support for keeping the unpaid tickets on the books. 

“It’s almost like [those who paid under the amnesty program] followed the rules and paid the amount owned, and if we just forgive the other 46,000, that was a silly move for those people,” he said, noting that “rules work best when there’s some sort of enforcement.” 

Trustee Arti Walker-Peddakotla opposed the idea of using the IDROP system to collect on unpaid tickets, stating that tax refunds are “money they’re likely depending on. …”

“I think from a racial equity perspective, from a humanity perspective, I see this as there’s a reason those folks haven’t paid them,” she said. 

The board did not take action on the recommendation and is expected to take up the issue at a future meeting.

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