(City Hall) – Council Member Michael C. Nelson praised the city’s new plan to significantly reduce costs while at the same time generate much needed revenue yet believes more can be done to ensure the city reaches it goal.

That goal, saving an estimated $500 million, also includes a plan to collect over $100 million in debt and a considerable portion of that amount comes from unpaid parking tickets. Knowing that unpaid parking summonses is a rampant problem in the city, Councilman Nelson earlier this year introduced Introduction 22-2010 which, if passed into law, will initiate a forgiveness program for parking violation penalties. Introduction 22-2010, which is co-sponsored by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, is modeled after the same concept as the ECB forgiveness program implemented by the Council last year. The ECB bill provided an opportunity for individuals, who were issued violations by various city agencies (Department of Buildings, Consumer Affairs, Sanitation, etc.) and were currently in default to eliminate their debt with the city by paying only the base fine, thereby avoiding all penalties.

Councilman Nelson’s legislation will present New Yorkers with the rare opportunity to do the same with parking violations issued by the Department of Finance. Specifically, Int. 22-2010 would provide a temporary, 90 day program that allows respondents to resolve parking violations that are “in default” and for which the default judgment was issued before January 1, 2010. Applicants can resolve their default violations by paying the base fine and will not have to pay additional penalties, late fees or interest.

Although initial parking violations can be costly, late fees and interest charges can quickly add up if the fine is not paid within the allotted time. After the first 100 days and the accumulation of three late fees, interest begins to accrue at a rate of nine percent per year. Similar amnesty programs implemented in other major cities such as Chicago have proven successful resulting in the collection of millions of dollars in paid parking fines. This past January, the city of Savannah, Georgia again had implemented a month-long parking penalty amnesty program since its past amnesty programs proved popular and successful.

“The near collapse of Wall Street coupled with every other economic problem accompanying the Great Recession has taken a financial toll on New York City. Tax revenues are down and thousands of New Yorkers are jobless,” said Councilman Nelson. “A parking violations amnesty program would be a fantastic way for New Yorkers to pay off their debt to the City in a cost effective way and at the same time generate much needed revenue.”

Council Member Michael C. Nelson, who represents the neighborhoods of Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay and parts of Midwood, was first elected to the City Council in 1999. He is the Chairman of the Waterfronts Committee and is a member of the Civil Service and Labor, Consumer Affairs, Contracts, Oversight & Investigations, Sanitation and Solid Waste Management and Transportation Committees. Nelson is also the Chairman of the Jewish Caucus.