City launches three-month amnesty forgiving penalties on certain violations

By Bill Parry

The city will offer a 90-day amnesty program to individuals and businesses forgiving accumulated penalties and fines on violations from the Department of Sanitation, the Department of Buildings and other city agencies.

The initiative, “Forgiving Fines: The New York City Amnesty Program,” which was proposed by City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-East Elmhurst) and approved by Mayor Bill de Blasio in April, opened Monday and runs through Dec. 12. It covers violations left unpaid that are now in judgment.

To have a violation in judgment means the city has filed a public record of the liability due to a violation involving the entire amount. It excludes parking tickets, criminal violations, and violations over $25,000.

“This temporary amnesty program is a win-win for our city, for small businesses and for property owners with Environmental Control Board judgments,” Ferreras-Copeland said. “It will give New Yorkers a break while helping the city quickly recuperate over $1 billion that is owed in ECB debt, which could be going towards programs and services.”

Ferreras-Copeland announced the initiative with city Department of Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha Monday in front of Angelo’s Pizza on 103rd Street in Corona.

“Close to 1.4 million violations have gone into judgment,” Jiha said. “The last time we offered any kind of penalty relief was in 2009, and we believe the time has come to give New York City taxpayers the opportunity and incentive to resolve their debt with the city.”

Any business or individual with violations in judgment that have been adjudicated by the Environmental Control Board may participate in the amnesty program. Individuals and businesses with judgments containing hearing default penalties can have 100 percent of the penalties as well as interest forgiven.

Those who have attended hearings and do not have default penalties only have to pay 75 percent of the base fine and will also have interest forgiven. After the amnesty period, individuals and businesses will have to pay 100 percent of interest and penalties on top of their base fines.

The program covers violations such as illegal posting of a handbill or notice, improper storage of receptacles, improper or misused recycling containers, failure to comply with an order of the commissioner, work without a permit, failure to conduct required inspections and tests and vending merchandise or food in a restricted area.

For more information and the most frequently asked questions, visit Forgiving Fines online.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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