Thousands of Chicagoans have saved more than $11.5 million by taking advantage of the city’s new amnesty and debt relief programs in the first three months of the initiative, the mayor’s office said Tuesday. Lori Lightfoot.
The city launched the Debt Cancellation Program for Sticker Violators in October, allowing residents who had racked up hefty late fees to purchase a new city sticker. without being affected by arrears.
Nearly 9,000 drivers did just that to come into compliance, a nine-fold increase from the previous year, according to the mayor’s office. In total, nearly 11,400 residents have been exonerated from more than $11.5 million in unpaid debt.
“These early results from the City Sticker forgiveness initiatives prove that when the game is not stacked against Chicagoans and given a realistic and accessible path to compliance, they will take it,” Lightfoot said in a statement. .
Fines for not having a city sticker were increased from $120 to $200 in 2012. The city’s sticker ticket debt, compounded by late penalties and collection fees, has ballooned to around $275 million over the next six years, according to a survey by ProPublica Illinois and WBEZ.
Overhauling this regressive system was a key campaign promise made by the freshman mayor.
But before approving Lightfoot’s plan in September, some aldermen worried about the loss of approximately $15 million in city revenue reducing fines, expanding payment plans and ending driver’s license suspensions for non-travel violations.
Lightfoot called the plan “a first but important step in unraveling the city’s reliance on fines and fees on the backs of low-income people.”
In 2017, fines and penalties — ranging from parking, red light and speed camera tickets to building code violations — brought in $344.9 million, or about 9% of all city revenue. Vehicle tickets alone bring in over $260 million.
The mayor’s office says other big cities like San Francisco and Phoenix have actually seen their revenue increase by overhauling their fee and fine systems.
For more information on city payment plans and debt forgiveness, visit www.chicago.gov/newstarchicago.