By Gina Martinez
Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) gathered at the Amerasia Bank Gallery in Flushing and urged business owners to take advantage of a new 90-day initiative that forgives penalties on violations handed out by the Department of Sanitation, Department of Buildings, and other city agencies.
“Forgiving Fines: The New York City Amnesty Program” is a three-month effort authorized by Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council. The city is forgiving penalties, interest and added fees on violations received by home and business owners from multiple city agencies, including DOS, DOB and NYPD. The program runs from Sept. 12 to Dec. 12 and covers unpaid violations that are now in judgment. According to the Department of Finance, there are roughly 1.4 million violations in judgment.
“Rising costs have led many businesses to view regulatory fines and penalties as the straws that broke the camel’s back,” Koo said at the Oct. 26 event. “The vast majority of small businesses want to comply with the law simply so they can live the dream of running a successful business in the greatest city in the world. Problems arise when fines from overregulation pile up, leaving opportunities for businesses to fall behind in payments. Forgiveness will go a long way for many of the well-intentioned small businesses who are trying to keep their businesses afloat.”
According to the Department of Finance the amnesty program covers two types of violations: those that do not require corrective action and those that do. Some of the more common violations are illegal posting of handbills or notices, work without a permit, improper disposal of trash or recyclables and failure to comply with an order of the commissioner. Individuals and businesses with judgments containing hearing default penalties can have 100 percent of the penalties as well as interest forgiven and those who attend hearings and do not have default penalties only have to pay 75 percent of the base fine.
“The NYC Amnesty program could have a significant impact on small businesses, which are an important part of New York City’s economy,” Jacques Jiha, the Finance commissioner, said. “Small business owners work very hard to stay afloat. Many of them have low profit margins. The penalties and interest on any Department of Sanitation or Department of Buildings fines sometimes account for more than 60 percent of their debt to the city. The Amnesty Program will help them save money.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart