Port Chester leaders hope to entice drivers to pay old parking tickets this November with a month-long amnesty program.
Republican trustees floated the idea of an amnesty program earlier this year, following the lead of cities, towns and villages across the country that have declared similar amnesties in the hopes of bringing in extra revenue during tough economic times.
Delinquent parkers owe the village a lot -- almost $6 million, according to ComPlus, a Tarrytown-based contractor hired to handle collection and accounting for Port Chester's amnesty program.
An amnesty program would bring in a fraction of that amount, but some trustees say it's still a good deal for drivers and the municipality.
On Monday night, some trustees compared Port Chester's amnesty to a similar program in Hartford, which resulted in more than $200,000 for that city. In larger cities, like Washington, D.C., unpaid parking tickets and late fines amount to more than $300 million.
But with the Connecticut border just a few miles away, Port Chester's situation is unique. Trustees cited figures that said more than 40 percent of scofflaws are registered Connecticut drivers, and the vast majority of unpaid tickets are credited to out-of-state drivers.
The village can nudge New York drivers to pay up by notifying the Department of Motor Vehicles after a driver accumulates three unpaid tickets. But Port Chester cannot do the same with out-of-state drivers, and those drivers might not feel compelled to pay their tickets if they don't frequent Port Chester.
That means the amnesty will benefit people from out of town far more than it will benefit drivers in Port Chester, who pay up because they live here.
"That's why 90 percent of people do pay their tickets" in the village, Trustee Daniel Brakewood said. "They want to go back downtown."
In this year's controversial budget process, board Republicans already listed $200,000 in projected revenue from the amnesty, a move local Democrats said was premature.
Republicans say projected revenue from sales tax will make up the gap even if the amnesty program brings in less than expected. If it brings in more, they say, that's icing on the cake.
"We're just trying to incentify people who owe us money to pay it," Trustee Bart Didden said.
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