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ECB Doubled Down on Fine Collection Efforts – What Was the Result?

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Posted By Kristen Hariton

Several programs were implemented in 2016 – 17 to increase collection efforts for ECB-related fines. Did they work?

Each year the Department of Finance is required to make a public report on ECB-related outstanding judgment debt that was referred to collection. We’ve highlighted the most critical parts of the report and summarized them below:

What is collections revenue?

Collections revenue is any income after the city files a Judgment against a fine and “refers the debt” to the DOF. According to the report, 60% of violations are paid before the DOF referral process even begins. In fact, combined with collections efforts, 72% of all issued OATH/ECB fines are paid.

Did total collections revenue increase?

To put it simply, yes.

Judgment collection increased significantly during FY17, mostly due to the Forgiving Fines: NYC Amnesty Program. To recap, the Amnesty Program lasted for 90 days in late 2016, and allowed named respondents on ECB-related tickets to pay reduced amounts on all overdue penalties. In fact, this program alone generated more revenue than the entire collection effort of FY14. More importantly, it allowed named respondents to erase debt quickly.

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What’s the breakdown between base fines and interest?

Our of all outstanding ECB Judgment debt, 45% of the amount collected was in penalties – not base fines. Only 30% of the collection amounts were base fines, and 25% of the total accounted for interest.

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What does that mean for me?

The longer a fine goes unpaid, the more likely it’ll be subjected to steep interest and penalties. According to the report, the average referral time from docketing to Department of Finance is 1.26 days – that’s not a lot of time to make payments before a violation hits collections.

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What’s the breakdown by agency in 2017?

The DOB has the largest tallies when it comes to base fines, penalties, and interest, carrying a total referred judgment amount of $98,914,904 from 22,339 violations. This averages out to $4,427.90 per violation.

By comparison, the Department of Sanitation had the greatest amount of summonses referred (181,337), but about half the fines ($48,433,297), carrying an average of $267 per violation.

The FDNY came in third, with 10,424 tickets and $21,510,878 of referred judgment debt. Of course, this amount doesn’t include total fines issued, or any criminal summons-related penalties.

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But that’s just for FY17 – these three agencies make up the largest chunk of ECB-related debt inventory overall from the Department of Finance. 

In total, the DOB has $881,230,562 in debt inventory, spread out across 113,119 individual violations (average = $7,790.30 per summons). In fact, the total DOB penalty amount in collections are double the base fines – about $442 million to $219 million, with $219 million in interest alone.

The numbers for Sanitation are even more interesting – there’s almost a million Sanitation tickets in judgment collection, totaling over $332 million. On average, each ticket carries about $336.80 worth of judgment debt.

Based on these numbers, it’s safe to say that while Sanitation tickets are issued much more frequently and usually carry lower penalties, DOB summonses tend to have exponentially higher fines, and can rapidly swell in collections with penalties and interest. The same can be said for FDNY tickets, which have a $6,341.35 judgment average per summons.

All agencies combined, about 1.3 million tickets are in the DOF’s collections inventory, totaling over 1.5 billion in fines.

Want more stats? Check out the FY17 report, and stay tuned for FY18 later this year.

Kristen Hariton

Kristen Hariton is the Product Marketing Strategist at SiteCompli. A member of the SiteCompli team since March 2013, Kristen has learned more about compliance and property operations than she ever thought possible. When she's not sharing the latest industry trends, changes, and updates, she's planning her next adventure to Walt Disney World.

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