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Comptroller: NYC Lets Big Companies Off The Hook For Millions In Unpaid Tickets

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - That parking ticket you got? You'd better pay it.

But what if you're a big company?

New York City Comptroller John Liu's office conducted an audit of the Department of Finance's collection of parking tickets. According to the audit, the DOF was holding $9.3 million in  unpaid tickets by companies with delivery fleets.

"It's bad enough that people feel like they're constantly blitzed with parking tickets," Liu said. "It's absolutely galling to now find that the City lets big companies off the hook on millions in parking tickets."

The spokesman for the DOF took issue with the audit, however.

"The audit is not accurate. The fact is Finance has collected 99 percent of the revenue associated with fines issued to companies enrolled in this program over the past two years," said Owen Stone. "Finance is already going above and beyond what the comptroller has recommended to continue to improve on our strong collection rates."

Companies with commercial fleets have two options for getting a discount on parking tickets. To qualify for either, companies are required to pay all their outstanding tickets, waive the right to challenge future tickets, and agree to pay future tickets within 15 days. Any company that doesn't live up to its end of the bargain can be booted out of the discount program by the DOF.

According to the audit, of the $9.3 million in outstanding tickets, $6.4 million had gone unpaid for more than 30 days. Some $3.7 million of those had gone unpaid for more than six months.

For comparison, a person can have their vehicle towed or booted if they don't pay $350 worth of tickets within 100 days.

"At the minimum, the City should be as efficient collecting money from big companies as it is from residents and small business owners, who apparently never get a break," Liu said.

A previous program for individuals to get discounts on their parking tickets was shut down by the DOF in January 2012.

According to the audit, the companies that owe the city the most in unpaid tickets are Federal Express ($957,315), Verizon ($480,030), Frito-Lay ($213,557) and Anheuser-Busch ($168,963).

The DOF says it collected $54 million of $58 million billed under the discount programs in 2011. It also said it is creating an online system that will streamline the process for companies to review open tickets. In addition, the DOF said as of next month all companies who are in discount programs will have to pay their debts entirely and sign a new agreement to stay in the program. Any company that has more than $350 in judgments against it will be removed from the program and be subjected to booting and towing.

Click here to read a summary of the audit. For the entire audit, click here (pdf).

What do you think of the findings? Tell us in our comments section below.

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