Poughkeepsie councilwoman proposes new parking ticket amnesty

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POUGHKEEPSIE – Councilmember Sarah Brannen has proposed a parking ticket amnesty program in the City of Poughkeepsie.  The city held ticket amnesty programs in 2010 and 2014. Councilman Chris Petsas was on the council for the last amnesty period and said the revenue collected was “substantial.”

Brannen is touting the proposal as a benefit for both the city and those individuals with outstanding tickets.  

“If you pay your fine within a certain period of time even though it is overdue and you might have accrued late fees, you would get those late fees forgiven or reduced,” she said.

Mayor Rob Rolison recently announced that the city is facing a revenue shortfall of at least $5.5 million as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the city has implemented a number of cost-saving measures to reduce the impact of lost revenue.  

Brannen said the program will bring revenue to the city that would likely go uncollected without an incentive to pay the fines.  Her research of outstanding parking fines and penalties, for tickets dating back six years, indicates that there is $1.6 million in uncollected revenue.  The base fines for the six years of tickets add up to $877,450 with late fees accounting for $788,000 in outstanding money owed to the city.

“This is one of the most exciting things I’ve worked on as a councilmember,” said Brannen.  While details have not been finalized, Brannen has suggested that a time period range be established and violators who pay their outstanding tickets during that period will have the added penalty waived.  “This will give people a chance to clear up their fines and save money during the pandemic,” Brannen said.  Councilwoman Natasha Cherry is supportive of the proposal. “It provides economic relief to the residents.”  Cherry did question how the fees will be collected.  According to Cherry, an outside vendor was used to collect the money in 2014 and the firm kept a percentage of the money collected.  Cherry prefers that the fines be collected by city employees in order to save the cost of a vendor.  Brannen offered to discuss the suggestion with the finance department.

The resolution will be formally introduced at the council’s June meeting.  Individuals that want to research their outstanding parking tickets can do so at https://www.parkingticketpayment.com/poughkeepsie/.