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May 11th, 2011 By | News | Posted In: Government, Police, Courts, Financial Crisis, Spending

400-Plus City Workers Owe Money

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News junkies probably heard about the warnings issued by Cincinnati City Hall this week, reminding citizens of its “ticket amnesty” program: Anyone with unpaid parking tickets should pay now or possibly have their vehicles impounded by police.

What City Hall didn't announce was that as of last month, 429 of the nearly 62,000 unpaid parking tickets were issued to municipal employees — including some cops and firefighters.

A city spokeswoman confirmed CityBeat's inquiry from Tuesday about how many city workers have unpaid parking tickets.

“As of early April that is true,” said spokeswoman Meg Olberding. “The person who is coordinating and updating the data is out, so we won't have current numbers until end of week or so.”

Under the city's Second Chance Amnesty Program, which began in March and is in effect until June 30, violators can receive a 50-percent discount on unpaid parking citations that were issued before July 1, 2010.

An estimated 62,000 people owe a total of $12.3 million in unpaid fines, which City Hall needs to help avoid a looming $54 million deficit.

Officials are encouraging citizens to immediately pay tickets right away to avoid additional fines and towing.

When Olberding was asked whether city employees who owe unpaid fines might have the amounts deducted from their paychecks, she replied, “We have considered garnishments after the June 30 deadline.”

This week City Hall issued a press release stating that new license plate technology automatically identifies vehicles with multiple unpaid parking tickets. Violators may not be able to renew Ohio license plates or driver’s licenses.

Further, the press release reminded people that although the amnesty program lasts through the end of June, anyone with multiple unpaid parking tickets could have their vehicles towed at any time. In that instance, violators will be required to pay the original amount of the ticket, along with an impound fee of $150 and a daily storage fee of $25.

Anyone who wants to pay a ticket may do so by calling the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts office at 513-946-6000 or via the Web by clicking here.

In the city's press release issued Monday, a warning was given that police would step up patrols and use hand-held automated license plate reading devices to look for scofflaws.

“With the stepped up enforcement, the Cincinnati Police Department encourages every citizen who has unpaid delinquent parking tickets to take advantage of the current amnesty program and pay out their overdue citations at the reduced rate,” said Lt. Col. Michael Cureton, interim police chief, in the release. “Citizens with unpaid parking tickets run the risk of having their vehicles impounded on the spot, which results in additional expense and unnecessary inconvenience.”

Wonder if they're looking for vehicles owned by their colleagues who have unpaid tickets, too?

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