With tens of millions of dollars in unpaid parking fines amassed over the last 15 years, the city plans to meet motorists halfway with two amnesty days at the start of February.
Mayor Catherine Pugh originally announced the planned late fee-forgiveness days on Jan. 10, but she and her four colleagues on the Board of Estimates must first approve the event at their meeting this Wednesday.
Around 320,000 drivers have racked up 500,000 unpaid parking tickets in total that would be eligible, according to this week’s board agenda. While those unpaid fines have ballooned as they’ve incurred additional monthly charges over the years, the city estimates the original total value of the tickets – if they had been paid right away – comes out to $26 million.
And that original value is the deal the city is offering on Feb. 1-2. The Department of Finance would waive all accumulated charges, plus the city’s $25 “flag fee” for flagging someone via their registration, if a motorist agrees to pay the base ticket amount. (The amnesty deal notably doesn’t cover court costs, bad checks, towing fees, booting, impound lot storage and state flag fees.)
Under the city charter, officials can only schedule amnesty days once every 10 years. Around a third of eligible drivers showed up to the last amnesty event in 2003, Baltimore City Director of Finance Henry Raymond told reporters on Jan. 10; this week’s board agenda says the total recouped came out to about $3.6 million.
Raymond said earlier this month, “we believe the numbers will be similar, so essentially we’re projecting between $3-4 million in revenue.”
While the 2003 amnesty event provided an immediate boost in parking ticket revenue for that year, Raymond noted the amount of fines collected in subsequent years declined, since many outstanding tickets had been paid off at original value.
Assuming the Board of Estimates approves the event this Wednesday, drivers will be allowed to pay their original ticket amounts online, by phone, by mail or in-person at the Wolman Building on Holliday Street.