Mayor Brown introduces more items to 'Reform Agenda'

Late fees to be waived for some parking tickets and water bills

Brendan Keany
June 29, 2020 - 4:47 pm
Byron Brown

BUFFALO (WBEN) - On Monday afternoon, Mayor Byron Brown held a press conference at the Colonel Ward Pumping Station to make several announcements regarding his newly instituted Reform Agenda.

Two of the announcements are considered amnesty programs - the first of which waiving late fees for parking tickets that are more than a year old, while the second program waives late fees or interest on delinquent water bill payments.

The goal of these programs, according to Brown, is to "help ease the pressure of escalating fines that disproportionately impact black and low-income residents in our city."

The programs officially begin on July 1 and will last through the end of this calendar year.

"People will now be able to pay the original amount due and clear the ticket from their record," said Brown. "Unpaid parking tickets have the potential to become a source of economic hardship when late fees become significantly more than the original ticket."

Any person that was issued a ticket prior to June 30, 2019, and still hasn't paid the ticket with additional fees included, will receive a letter from the city with an update on how to proceed with payment. City records show more than 56,600 tickets will be eligible for the program.

The water bill program is a little more complex than the parking program, but here are the basics:

  • Forgive interest and penalties associated with an account balance, forgive the meter fee, and forgive any charge related to a burst meter 
  • Require a down payment of only 10% of the remaining principal balance
  • Require the owner to sign up for a 12-month plan to repay the past due amount
  • Allow the installation of an advanced reading technology meter
  • Enroll in automatic monthly billing so residents can continue to make their payments on time

"It is therefore in our best interest, as a city, to make sure that we are doing all we can to help every household keep their water turned on," said Brown. "Access to clean, affordable water is a critical component to helping end the health disparities, which have historically plagued black people, and have become especially apparent to all of us because of the Covid-19 health pandemic."

The Water Authority is also encouraging residents to enroll in its Pathways to Affordable Water program, which can help residents access assistance in helping lower their water bills.

Lastly, the Buffalo Motorist Assistance Program will give residents pleading guilty to low-level moving or equipment violations the ability to prove their income status and arrange a fine that is more appropriate than the former flat fines.

While these programs will surely offer economic relief to many Buffalo residents, the question was raised about further reform, as it was noted that parking and water bill amnesty programs are not high on the list of priorities for residents who continue to demand change.

"We are listening to all residents; we are not listening to any one individual resident group," Brown replied. "We have a city of over 260,000 people, and we are listening to people in every single section of our community.

"Again, there are people who are asking for what we are talking about," he continued. "During this time when people's incomes have been impacted severely by Covid-19, and when we have about 30% of our population living in poverty, anything that we can do to provide financial relief to people is certainly welcome."

Listen to Brown's full press conference below:

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