Parking ticket amnesty ends today

October 31, 1992|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,Staff Writer

If you've been holding onto a 6-year-old Baltimore City parking ticket, hoping that the hundreds of dollars in accumulated penalties would go away, today is the last day to take advantage of an experiment in benevolence that has made your dream come true.

The city's 2-month-long amnesty program for parking tickets -- so far, a trial, one-time-only deal -- comes to an end today.

Under the program, car owners with outstanding parking citations from 1986 through 1989 can just pay the ticket's face value -- and no penalties.

That alone has saved some car owners thousands of dollars in penalties that accumulated at a rate of $6 and $8 a month.

Katherine J. Brooks of the 4400 block of Wrenwood Ave. ended up yesterday paying just $36 -- instead of $1,381 -- she owed for three tickets issued in May and June 1987.

"Thirty-six bucks, ain't that good? That's good. It's great," Ms. Brooks said. "Did I get a good deal? Lord, yes, and you know it. Anybody who'd pass up this deal would have to be crazy."

Sheila L. Washington of the 4700 block of Reisterstown Road knows a deal when she sees one. She wound up paying $76, instead of $1,061 she owed in fines and penalties.

Why did she wait three years to pay three parking tickets from 1989?

"Well, somebody else got them in my car and didn't tell me," Mrs. Washington explained yesterday, after standing in two long, winding lines at the city collection office in the Abel Wolman Municipal Building to pay her bill.

The somebody who forgot to mention the tickets is her husband, Mark A. Washington. "So," she said, turning to her beloved, "Do I get a $900 Christmas present?"

Without blinking, Mr. Washington retorted, "I just gave it to you."

"It saved a marriage and everything," she said wryly.

Ottavio M. Grande, acting chief of the city Department of Finance's Collection Division, said he would not know until later next week how much money the city took in under the program. About 142,000 unpaid tickets, accounting for about $3 million owed to the city, fall in the period covered, he said.

Earlier this month, collection officials calculated that 4,600 tickets had been paid, bringing about $98,000 to the city. Mr. Grande said he expects that about twice that amount to be paid by the end of today.

The collection office -- on the first floor of the Municipal Building, 200 N. Holliday St. -- will be open today from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The office also will accept payment of fines by mail, provided that they are postmarked today, Mr. Grande said.

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