Port Chester’s November amnesty on overdue parking tickets failed to bring in the shot of cash that proponents hoped for. Revenue increased that month, but the amnesty didn’t bring anything like the $200,000 net gain that officials banked on for the 2011-12 budget.
That budget line was one of the items hotly debated in May, when the village board made a slew of last-minute changes to reduce the property-tax levy by 5 percent. How far did the estimate fall short? Here are the receipts from the last several months from contractor Complus, according to the village treasurer:
June: 4,111 tickets paid, $144,970 collected.
July: 3,240 tickets paid, $104,995 collected.
August: 3,951 tickets paid, $125,535 collected.
September: 3,358 tickets paid, $87,343 collected.
October: 3,403 tickets paid, $93,155 collected.
November: 5,882 tickets paid, $152,285 collected.
Mayor Dennis Pilla and Trustee Daniel Brakewood, who opposed the $200,000 revenue estimate, noted that the collection dipped in the months before the amnesty as people apparently held onto their overdue tickets. Late penalties, which can generate $10,000 to $50,000 a month, were waived during the amnesty. Pilla said the shortfall will be offset by savings through staff vacancies. But he said the problem comes next year, when the “artificially low” tax levy will be subject to a statewide 2 percent cap.
Trustee Bart Didden defended the amnesty as part of a successful effort to make parking-ticket collection more efficient, saying November was the highest collection since at least 1997. He said he had worked closely with Complus on issuing regular “final notices” and other steps to improve the collection over the last year. “When you look at the five years in the overall, our collection percentage has not only gotten better, but we did pick up a bunch of old money as well,” Didden said.