Harlem’s Mark-Viverito, Mayor de Blasio And Others Forgive $150 Mil Home And Business Owners Debt

December 22, 2016

Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the resolution of more than $150 million in debt from violations issued by city agencies – the result of a three-month Department of Finance amnesty program, run in conjunction with the New York City Council. As part of the program, 120,000 violations were processed, resulting in collection of $43 million of outstanding debt to the City – more than the city collected for all of Fiscal Year 2014 – and the waiving of more than $106 million in penalties and interest for home- and business-owners. This was the first amnesty program since 2009.

“Any time we can help New Yorkers save, while simultaneously collecting owed debt, we are doing right by the city,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This year’s amnesty program, the first under this administration, saved New Yorkers over $150 million – money that we hope will provide a little comfort this holiday season.”

“The New York City Amnesty Program has had a significant impact on many communities across our City,” said Harlem Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “This important initiative has helped save New Yorkers their hard-earned money, while at the same time also improving efficiency by clearing up hundreds of violations. The New York City Council is proud to have worked with the Mayor’s administration and other City agencies to make this happen.”

“The Amnesty Program was a very big success. We not only saved taxpayers money, we doubled our collection goal of 22.5 million,” said Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha. “The last penalty relief program was in 2009, where the City collected only $14 million. We are very pleased that New Yorkers were able to take advantage of millions of dollars in savings as well as the opportunity to clear their debt with the City.”

“The Fine Forgiveness program was created to bring relief to struggling businesses and property owners while helping the City quickly raise its revenue and eliminate the amount owed in ECB fines. The amnesty program exceeded our expectation, and I am very pleased with these results and the outreach conducted by the Department of Finance. I look forward to continuing my work with DOF to reduce the amount owed to the City in ways that are beneficial to all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Chair of the Committee on Finance.

“Businesses and homeowners get a break on unpaid fines, and the city gets more revenue with less effort: everyone wins,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “This is the kind of initiative that helps government work better for everyone.”

Forgiving Fines: The New York City Amnesty Program ran from September 12 through December 12 and covered unpaid violations that were in judgment. For those who failed to attend a hearing for their violation, the Amnesty Program waived 100 percent of the default penalty, as well as the interest on their judgment. Those who attended hearings, were required to pay only 75 percent of the base fine and had 100 percent of their interest forgiven.

New Yorkers with compliance violations (typically issued by the Department of Buildings or the FDNY) have six months to fix the underlying conditions and pay the base fee.

The amnesty program did not cover parking tickets. Some of the most common violations the city collected debt on include improper disposal of trash or recyclables; working without a permit; failure to conduct required building inspections and tests; failure to clear snow, ice or dirt from the sidewalk; and illegal posting of handbill or notice.

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