Outstanding Fines

The city of Tel-Aviv was forced to send notices to an exceedingly large number of people, letting them know that still outstanding traffic tickets, and the associated fines, on their name are canceled.

It’s not a new-year money wasting spree by the city, and not done out of kindness. It seems that there’s a regulation requiring to notify people at least once every three years about still unpaid fines.

Last time such notifications were sent on a large scale was in 2001, and the city offered major discounts to people that come with their old debts and pay them. About 75% of people did not take the opportunity.

And now, because someone forgot to mail all these people a notice, the debts are waived. A sort of an unplanned new-year’s gift for the crooked.

There are two things that strike me as particularly noteworthy about this:

  1. If the law required notification every three years, then it means people are expected to avoid paying for so long. Is that the level of law enforcement that municipal authorities are capable (or more correctly, incapable) of? It’s so pathetic it’s almost ludicrous. If the city doesn’t have the force to compel anyone to pay for so long, it’s surprising anyone bother paying.
  2. The city announced that it lost a prodigious amount of money on this. I’m sure the numbers they state add up, but… C’mon… If those people were avoiding payment for so bloody long, they would have likely never paid. So most of it is not money that the city could have counted on having, and was lost to begin with. The actual monetary loss is much much smaller. Future loss from people that now know paying is stupid… That could be more serious.

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