City Council Passes Legislation for OATH-ECB Amnesty Program
If you’re eligible, the program will waive a percentage of your penalties and clear your violations.
The New York City Council recently passed Local Law 81 of 2021 to establish a temporary program to resolve outstanding judgments imposed by the Environmental Control Board. Council members were motivated to pass this legislation in an attempt to reduce the economic strain the pandemic has had on New Yorkers.
If a judgment has been filed in court for outstanding violations and you failed to appear before the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), you may be eligible to participate in the program, waive a percentage of your penalties, and clear your violations. OATH holds hearings on what are called Environmental Control Board (ECB) cases. These cases involve summonses that are issued by 13 different city enforcement agencies responsible for protecting the public's health, safety, and clean environment. OATH hearing officers’ decisions on these summonses are final unless an appeal from the hearing decision is accepted.
The legislation was sent to the mayor, who has 30 days to either sign a bill into law, veto the bill, or take no action. According to the legislative history, the bill was returned unsigned by the mayor. However, the bill will become effective because if the mayor doesn’t sign or veto the bill within 30 days, it becomes law. Here are some of the specifics for the amnesty program:
Who May Participate?
You may be eligible for the amnesty program if you meet the following criteria:
- You received a citation by a city agency for a common environmental control violation (sorry, you can’t include your parking tickets here).
- Your violation has been adjudicated by OATH.
- You failed to attend your hearing and have been found in default.
- A judgment has been filed in court for your outstanding violation.
You may not be eligible for a settlement if:
- You attended your OATH hearing.
- Your violation has been issued recently and is not currently in judgment. Judgments entered within 90 days prior to the start of the program are ineligible.
- Your violation hasn’t been turned over to any collection agency or office.
- You’ve received a reduction from the Department of Buildings after correcting a compliance violation. If the compliance violation was issued by a different agency, you must show proof of compliance to the Department of Finance before participating in the program.
- You’re in the process of satisfying the judgment through a payment plan or other resolution agreement.
If you have made certain partial penalty payments prior to the start of the program, you may still be eligible to participate.
Amnesty Program Benefits
Under the program, subject to certain conditions, default penalties and associated accrued interest would be waived.
- Judgments made before March 7, 2020 (before the pandemic) would be resolved by payment of 75 percent of the imposed penalties without payment of accrued interest;
- Judgments docketed on or after March 7, 2020 (during the pandemic) would be resolved by payment of 25 percent of the imposed penalties without payment of accrued interest; and
- Default judgments would be resolved by paying the base penalty without default penalties and accrued interest.
The program would last for 90 days in fiscal year 2022 and the Commissioner of Finance would be able to extend the program for an additional 90 days. The fiscal year runs from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022.
It's important to note that after the amnesty period has concluded, any judgment that remains outstanding and hasn’t been resolved by this program will continue to have full legal effectiveness and enforceability regardless of whether it could’ve been resolved under this program.