A three-month program administered by the Department of Finance (DOF) will allow businesses that have been hit with city fines to apply for up to a 75 percent reduction in unpaid judgments.
The FAIRER (Fine and Interest Reduction Enabling Recovery) Program, authorized by Mayor Bill de Blasio, will enable New Yorkers with eligible Environmental Control Board (ECB) judgments to see their unpaid fines reduced by up to 75 percent.
ECB judgments can be issued by multiple city agencies like the departments of Sanitation, Buildings, and Fire. Violations can include dirty sidewalks, littering, failure to remove snow and ice, posters where they are not permitted, and failure to comply with the building code.
But as many businesses are trying to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, the program aims to bring much-needed relief.
“True to its name, the FAIRER Program offers a fair resolution for outstanding judgment debt that will aid ongoing recovery efforts,” said DOF Commissioner Sherif Soliman. “It is a chance to clear the slate and start fresh, and we hope many New Yorkers will take advantage of the program.”
According to a November 2020 DOF report, the pandemic had a “large adverse effect” on ECB collections last year. Enforcement of debt collection was halted in the early months of the pandemic, and as a result DOF saw a 15.7 percent decrease in collections from the previous year.
Depending on when violations went into judgment and whether the respondent attended a hearing held by the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, business owners can save up to 75 percent on the base fine and interest.
If there is no default penalty and the judgment was entered before March 7, 2020, customers can receive a 25 percent reduction on the base fine and interest.
If there is no default penalty and the judgment was entered on or after March 7, 2020, and prior to June 23, 2021, a 75 percent reduction is possible.
If the judgment contains a default penalty for not attending a hearing, the default penalty and interest can be forgiven.
“New York City was hit hard by the COVID-19 Pandemic,” said Assemblymember David Weprin in a statement. “The FAIRER Program will ease some of the financial burden on New Yorkers by reducing the cost of their Environmental Control Board fines.”
The FAIRER program runs from September 20 through December 20. To participate in the program, eligible reduced ECB judgments must be paid in full no later than December 20.