Do You Need a Break On Your Parking Tickets? One Could Be Coming

Cincinnati City Council member Tamaya Dennard wants the city to look into offering amnesty on parking ticket late fees.

Do you have some hefty parking fines looming overhead? One Cincinnati City Council member is interested in making them easier to pay off.

Council member Tamaya Dennard introduced a motion for city administration to submit a report on the details and feasibility of a Parking Amnesty Program. That report is due to council by May 1.

Currently, if you don’t pay a City of Cincinnati parking ticket within two weeks, you get an additional $10 fine. If you still don’t pay, the base fine doubles after three weeks.

Dennard’s plan seeks to remove late fees from parking tickets and impounded vehicles, Dennard said, dropping the fees down to the original amount.

This program would be a significant expansion on past amnesty offers, which only lasted a few days. Dennard’s proposed program would last a month.

Amnesty could be especially enticing to folks who visit Over-the-Rhine for work or play. Parking spots can be tough to find ever since the neighborhood’s parking permit program went into effect last month, and parking in the wrong place without a permit can easily lead to finding a ticket on your windshield.

Anthony Johnson, Dennard’s policy director, researched similar programs and modeled the proposed plan on Philadelphia’s, which lasted from the beginning of May through the end of April 2018 and forgave the full cost of tickets. They were able to do so due to a large tax base, Johnson said.

Cincinnati has a smaller tax base because of the smaller population, Johnson said, so full forgiveness is not an option.

Johnson also said many of the late tickets wouldn’t be paid otherwise, as “all we can do is go through a collections agency to try to get people to pay, but often times people just don’t.”

“We’re not trying to get people out of paying parking tickets,” Dennard said. “The point is if we can encourage people to pay their tickets, we still bring in income.”

During May 2-8, 2005, the city received $135,000 in parking ticket fees through its amnesty program — then called Operation Clean Slate — though acting City Manager David Rager complained in a May 2006 memo to the mayor that the amount of money collected was “significantly lower than anticipated.”

The fees collected during the amnesty period were just a hair above 3 percent of the $4 million in fees the city collected during 2005, Rager wrote in the memo.

The following year, Operation Clean Slate saw slightly less revenue, bringing in only $88,116 from 2,260 tickets — a 34 percent decrease from the previous year, acting City Manager Milton Dohoney, Jr. wrote in a November 2006 memo to the mayor and city council.

The same memo noted the amnesty program in 2003 yielded even less for the city — just $28,656.95.

Rager also mentioned repeated implementation of the program could disincentivize people to pay their tickets.

“It should be noted that frequent use of the amnesty programs may actually discourage violators from paying their parking tickets when due, essentially leading violators to wait until the next amnesty program,” Rager wrote.

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