Patchogue Village is waiving late fees on parking tickets -- many the result of increased enforcement of parking meters -- through March in hopes of recouping about $125,000 in unpaid tickets.
The amnesty program allows violators to return late parking tickets to Village Hall or send them by mail, but the tickets must be fully paid to waive the late fees, village officials said.
In many cases people don't realize or have forgotten they have been ticketed so several summonses go unanswered, village officials said.
"We want to be fair. Most parking violations happen by accident," village Mayor Paul Pontieri said. "But it's a way to collect money that's owed to us. One hundred thousand dollars is a tremendous amount of money. It allows us to clean our books up."
Nearly two years ago, Brookhaven Town instituted a parking ticket amnesty program to recoup some of the $2.7 million it was owed at the time in outstanding parking fines.
Violators were able to resolve tickets at a 40 percent discount in hopes of bringing Brookhaven $300,000 in revenue.
This program demonstrates that Patchogue is willing to work with residents and visitors over parking violations, village trustee William Hilton said.
There are more than 4,500 outstanding summonses in Patchogue dating to 2010, village officials said.
Many of the fines come from the village cracking down on metered parking after installing 22 meters along streets at the beginning of last year. Another 11 meters were added to village parking lots in January.
More than $200,000 in new revenue has been generated, with collected money being put into the village general fund to improve lighting, security and beautification, and to hire more public safety officers, village officials said.
Village Deputy Mayor Jack Krieger said stepping up enforcement efforts were successful and has allowed for the purchase of a building, which would be torn down, for additional parking spaces on a lot near Church Street and South Ocean Avenue.
"We plan to demolish the structure and add 30 free parking spaces," Krieger said.
Parking tickets in the village range from $25 to $250 for violations such as parking in a space too long and illegally parking in a disabled spot.
Village officials said some violators are repeat offenders, and that the amnesty program is a positive way to clear debt.
Village Justice Patricia K. Romeo said this is an opportunity to give violators a break on late penalties and to get rid of old parking tickets that have been lost or forgotten.
"It's more of a program for the community so that people won't have these tickets hanging over their heads and have a judgment against them," Romeo said. "We're hoping that people take advantage of it."
For more information, call 631-475-2753, ext. 2.