Ticket amnesty program nets $60K

Village recommends waiving all unpaid parking tickets through 2017

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

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.

tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Jason Cohen  

Posted: June 22nd, 2019 1:19 PM

The question should be what's the cost of continuing to try to collect on these and possibly import them into the new system? I bet it's close to what the village would net if they all were paid which won't happen. If this is correct then write them off and move on. These are parking tickets and not anything significant so let's cut the losses and move on. The message shouldn't be we are being nice. It should be that it doesn't make financial sense to continue to pursue payment.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: June 22nd, 2019 8:35 AM

If equity is the issue, does Al Rossell get some sort of equity because he proved the allegation made by the Village of Oak Park false thru his record keeping? Maybe in the form of credit against future parking citations or having the village employee or official of his choice wash his car or cut his lawn?

Greg Mitchell  

Posted: June 22nd, 2019 8:17 AM

Not from OP, but always pay to park when I go there, so I feel I have a small dog in this fight. Trustee Wlaker-Peddakolta, The people that have not paid their tickets, do have a reason they haven't paid. Primarily they know that because of people like you, that the tickets will likely not be enforced. The fact you have chosen to view unpaid parking tickets through the lens of equity seems to belittle the real struggle for equity that is ongoing.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: June 21st, 2019 11:19 PM

Using IDROP is a bad idea because the record keeping on these old tickets was so poorly done. Like Mr. Rossell's experience, I checked the web site and there were several tickets shown, that were ALL confirmed as paid with cashed checks. If the records are that wrong, having the same people dipping into someone's tax refund is a paperwork nightmare waiting for everyone. And, it is apparently inhuman to ask for fees from folks per our new Trustee, unless they are oppressor class. .

Bruce Kline  

Posted: June 21st, 2019 11:10 PM

It's called redistribution Bob. Apparently, Trustee Walker-Peddakotla is a staunch disciple. As a matter of fact in the near future I think I will be sending my parking tickets to her and the rest of board so they can partake in this redistribution "hands on." And your property tax idea has some merritt as well. Very interesting. Great suggestion.

Bob Larson from Oak Park  

Posted: June 21st, 2019 8:08 PM

Trustee Walker-Peddakotla, if I don't pay my property taxes would you say that there must be a reason I didn't pay them & let it go at that? I question your stewardship of OP's finances with your statement to let the scofflaws off the hook while everyone else has to pay their parking tickets!

Alice Caputo  

Posted: June 21st, 2019 5:28 PM

"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," REALLY? What exactly is the racial profile of people who haven't paid their tickets? How many of those same people can afford smart phones, big screen TVs, eating at restaurants, salon services, etc. but can't afford to pay nominal parking fees of a few dollars and then want someone else to pay their tickets? Has the Board lost its mind?

Al Rossell  

Posted: June 20th, 2019 11:40 PM

They sent me a list of 5 or 6 tickets and fortunately I had all my checks indicating they were paid (After a geat deal of time going through records and copying paid checks). After resolving that I then got a letter saying I owed another ticket from 2004. You would have to be an idiot to pay it since they clearly did not have good book keeping back then. I wonder how many people paid during the recent grace period that had previously paid them.

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