The Crusader Newspaper Group

No City Sticker? Fines to Drop from $200 to $50

City Council approves overhaul of ticket and debt collection

Crusader Staff Report

Drivers who receive a ticket for failing to purchase a city sticker will no longer have to pay $200 under a new system that the City Council approved on Wednesday, September 18.

By a 49-1 vote, the Council approved a plan to overhaul its punitive ticketing and debt collection system that includes ending suspension of driver licenses over unpaid parking tickets.

The new reforms are scheduled to take effect by November 15.

Under the new system a $50 fine will be given for drivers who fail to obtain city stickers for residential parking. For many years the fine was $200, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot during her campaign, opposed aggressive fines saying they hurt poor and minority residents more than any class or ethnic group, with many filing bankruptcy as a result of excessive fines.

City officials say the reforms will cost the city next year an estimated $15 million in lost revenues. In 2018, revenue from parking and automated camera tickets generated some $272 million for the city, or about 7 percent of its $3.8 billion operating budget, Finance Department officials said.

During a Finance Committee hearing on Monday, Alderman Patrick Thompson said the reforms unfairly benefit motorists who repeatedly rack up tickets for parking in handicap zones at the expense of law-abiding citizens from neighborhoods like his. This year, the city faces an $838 million budget deficit.

Still, Lightfoot believes the reforms are necessary.

“Cook County has the highest [number of] Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings in the country and a huge percentage of those filings relate to debt people owe to the city of Chicago,” she said after the vote. “So we are working hard to make sure that we relieve that burden and give people their cars back and give them an opportunity to participate in the economy.”

As part of the new reforms, the city will reinstate a 15-day grace period after stickers expire to allow motorists more time to come into compliance. An amnesty period will be offered later this year that would wipe out old sticker ticket debt if motorists come into compliance.

In addition, drivers whose vehicles have been booted will be given an additional 24 hours to pay their ticket debt or get a payment plan before the cars are impounded.

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