Mayor Plans Easing Terms For Parking Ticket Payment Plans
However, in many cases, some motorists just couldn’t afford the hefty down payment that was required to initiate the payment plan.
Now, in an effort to induce more drivers to enter into a payment plan and speed up the collection of millions of dollars of outstanding parking ticket and RLC debt, Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced an ordinance last week to make it more affordable for some drivers to begin making payments.
In a statement from the Mayor’s press office, Emanuel recognized the need to make it easier for lower income individuals or people with financial hardships to take advantage of the city’s payment plan program.
“However, we understand the economic hardships many are facing and want to make it easier for them to enter into a good faith agreement so they can begin paying down the debt they owe to the City,” said Emanuel.
Current law requires drivers with outstanding debt to pony up 25% of the total before they can enter into a plan to make monthly payments–an amount the city admits was difficult for some people and inhibiting participation in the program.
“Currently, the down payment requirements are stringent and are a deterrent for those who wish to enter into a payment plan, but cannot afford the down payment,” said City of Chicago Comptroller Amer Ahmad. “The Department would like to encourage more debtors to come into compliance and pay their debts by offering lower or no down payment options for qualifying hardship participants.”
As in an example offered by the Mayor’s office, as the ordinance now stands, a person with $1000 in ticket debt would have to cough up $250 before they can qualify to make monthly payments against their debt.
Drivers who qualify, instead of having to come up with a down payment first, would be able to immediately begin making monthly payments.
The Department of Finance, which has recently absorbed the Department of Revenue which used to administer the program, believes the city would see a 10% increase in drivers enrolling in the payment plan resulting in collecting an additional $2.5 million in revenue from past due parking tickets and red light camera tickets.
If passed, the ordinance would allow many ways to qualify for this new plan by being eligible to participate in or be already participating in one a long list of low-income programs.
- Illinois Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (L.I.H.E.A.P.)
- Housing Subsidy Program For Renters
- Supplemental Security Income Program (S.S.I.)
- Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants & Children (WIC)
- Any federal or state unemployment compensation system
- Being 65 years of age or older
- Claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit for the most recent tax year
- Currently receiving worker’s compensation income benefits
- Declared bankruptcy or is in foreclosure
- An active military duty service member, Reservist or a member of
the National Guard while on active duty
The proposed ordinance was referred to committee and at the earliest, could see a full vote in the City Council next month.