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City Finds Gold In Parking, Traffic Tickets

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 8, 2012 2:40PM

Photo credit: sparkyluck
Since Mayor Rahm Emanuel promised no new taxes, fines or fees to bridge Chicago’s budget gap the hole needed to be filled somehow. So it was only a natural progression the city would crack down on unpaid parking and traffic tickets.

How well has that gone? Very, according to the city’s numbers. Emanuel’s hard line stance has resulted in a $70 million windfall for the city’s coffers. Much of that has come from the Chicago City Council allowing State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s office to dun the state income tax returns of Illinois residents and businesses who owe outstanding parking and traffic tickets dating back to 2005. According to the Sun-Times, Emanuel was able to use $8.5 million of that money to hire more police officers and fund summer youth programs. City Comptroller Amer Ahmad told the Sun-Times, “We’ve done a much better job in the area of debt collection. The city is able to balance the budget without a tax increase because of some of these debt collection tools.”

Meanwhile, City Clerk Susana Mendoza’s office reported a 58 percent increase in parking tickets issued during the six weeks after the end of city vehicle sticker sales in July. The City Clerk’s office enforcement team wrote 5,696 tickets from July 16 through Aug. 24. Mendoza told The Expired Meter:

“Going after the scofflaws - the ones who purposely avoid paying their fair share of the wheel tax - is a matter of equity. It’s simply not right to let some have a free ride while the rest of us pay for them to use our roads.”

Mendoza estimated the combination of more tickets and an increased fine amount resulted in an additional $470,000 in revenue for the city. (The fine for not displaying a city sticker in a vehicle increased to $200 for cars and as high as $500 for trucks.)