CORONA — Property owners and businesses will get help in paying off some of their outstanding fines in a new program that waives the interest on older debts.
Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, chair of the City Council's finance committee, approved a 90-day amnesty program along with other council members last week.
Under that three-month amnesty program, people carrying a portion of the more than $1.5 billion in outstanding fines currently owed to the Environmental Control Board will be able to pay the base penalty and have the late fees and interest waived, officials said.
Officials will conduct outreach in neighborhoods with many ECB judgments.
The goal of the program is to help people, particularly small businesses, resolve their debt sooner and avoid any "tougher enforcement," Ferreras-Copeland said.
"The Council's Finance Committee will continue to track the Department of Finance's effort and find new avenues for collecting the $1.58 billion it is owed," she said in a statement.
Of that $1.58 billion, more than $380 million is in interest from old fines.
Last year the council passed a law that required the Department of Finance to supply a yearly report on how much is owed to them in fines.
Since then, council members have worked to find new ways of getting that money from businesses, according to Ferreras-Copeland.
Queens Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Thomas Grech said the program will help its small businesses pay off fines.
"It is a true win-win for both the city and our important business sector by allowing collection at a reduced rate while helping businesses avoid litigation," he said in a statement.