Parking, Camera Ticket Debt Soars To $1.5 Billion Under Emanuel
From when he first took office, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has taken a hard line
on recovering money owed to the city — particularly when it comes to parking ticket
scofflaws or those who rack up red-light or speed camera tickets.
But under his administration, the amount of unpaid tickets and fines have continued
to grow — to a staggering $1.5 billion, according to data obtained through a Freedom
of Information Act request by The Expired Meter. It accrues at a pace of $1 million a
week, documents show, far more than what the city collects from tickets it issues.
The bulk of it, $1.3 billion, is for unpaid parking tickets, a total which increased
by $177 million, or 15 percent, since Emanuel took office.
Meanwhile, unpaid red-light camera tickets and fees hit nearly $205 million, while
speed-camera fines that haven’t been paid reached $27 million by the end of 2014
after the first two years of the program.
The enormous amount in unpaid parking and camera tickets surpasses the combined
ticket debt owed to both New York City and Los Angeles — even though both cities are
far larger and write more tickets every year.
And one way the city has attempted to improve the amount of debt collected — by
setting up payment plans — has largely failed, the city data shows. More than four
times as many plans are in default as compared to the number that are in good
standing — meaning most haven’t lead to more people paying their bills.