Bloomberg administration scales back some unpopular fines

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The Bloomberg administration is planning to scale back some of the city's revenue-generating fines on businesses.

Three agencies within the outgoing administration have proposed turning 83 fine-carrying summonses, many related to signage, into tickets that carry no monetary penalties upon first offense, according to a draft report obtained by Capital.

The City Council passed a bill in April requiring departments to recommend fines that could be reduced into "cure periods."

The fines were a frequent target of criticism during the contentious Democratic mayoral primary, with near unanimity among the candidates that small businesses were being unduly besieged by the tickets. Bill de Blasio, the Democratic nominee for mayor, frequently spoke about the need to reduce such fines, and accused the administration of targeting businesses the outer boroughs.

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In the draft report, the city's Department of Sanitation analyzed 105 infractions and suggested no penalties for 12 related to missing signange and recycling for small buildings.

The Department of Consumer Affairs recommended cost-free tickets for 61 violations covering misplaced or inaccurate postings.

The Department of Environmental Protection proposed six changes for summonses related to water meters and other equipment.

"When an individual or business breaks the law, violations are key to ensuring behaviors that could potentially threaten the health and safety of New Yorkers aren't repeated," Bloomberg spokesman Evelyn Erskine said. "While the city cannot pick and choose which laws to enforce, in cases where corrective action can be taken without lasting damage, cure periods can go a long way in helping small businesses and individuals follow the law before being fined for violations."

If these changes had been in place in Fiscal Year 2013, businesses and property owners would have saved roughly $3.8 million, Erskine said.

The recommendations have been sent to the Council, which must now review them. Some can only be changed by legislative action, while others can take effect after a perfunctory rule-changing process.