Sylvania collecting ‘hundreds’ of unpaid ticketsWritten by Zach Davis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Donna Hill received a shock April 28 when she opened her mail to find a first notice letter for an unpaid parking ticket.
The surprise? The ticket was issued nearly nine years ago, on June 26, 2002.
“When I first got it, I thought ‘This is a joke. Are they really trying to collect on a nine-year-old parking ticket?’” said Hill, a 25-year resident of Sylvania.
“My immediate reaction was that these guys don’t know the difference between chicken salad and chicken s—,” husband John Hill said. “This is bad policy and bad politics.
“I’ll give you a hundred bucks for your Police Athletic League Association but don’t nickel and dime me for crap that’s 10 years old on a car we don’t even remember. That was three cars ago and five license plates. It all boils down to an aggressive attitude for a little amount of money from people who don’t understand the community.”
Donna Hill wasn’t the only one. Just one street over from her house, 34-year Sylvania resident Mike DelVerne also received a first notice letter for a ticket that was issued in 2002.
Both tickets were for $20, which included a $5 late fee.
“It just shows up in the mail for some ticket in 2002 on a car that I owned,” DelVerne said. “I don’t ever remember getting a ticket I didn’t pay. I don’t even remember parking on the meters anywhere in Sylvania.”
Hill and DelVerne have taken exception to the nine-year-old tickets because neither have records that go back far enough to disprove them, or prove that they already paid them nine years prior. The notice also required that the ticket be paid within a 30-day window or else a summons would be issued for a court appearance.
“How dare these people expect me to pay this ticket within 30 days or I am going to be issued a summons while they have nine years to send me the ticket that I supposedly never paid,” Hill said. “They never followed up with me nine years ago — $20 nine years after the fact? That’s just wrong.”
“It’s like getting a bill from a hospital from 1995 that you don’t remember being at and they are demanding payment,” DelVerne said. “The city must be hard up for cash. I don’t know how you could dispute a ticket from 2002? It’s like, ‘Give me 20 bucks’.”
Both parties received letters from Sylvania Chief of Police William H. Rhodus, who issued the notices. Rhodus did not return multiple messages left with his secretary. In a letter to Hill, Rhodus blamed the previous police administration for the nine-year lag in response time.
“I do agree with you that this letter should have been sent to you a long time ago, but I can not speak as to why the previous police administration did not do so,” Rhodus wrote. “The non-issuance of these letters is the fault of the police department and has been corrected.”
Hill and DelVerne may not be alone with their dated notices. In Rhodus’ letter to Hill, he alludes to “many hundreds” of recently discovered unpaid parking violations.
“Since I have been chief over the last year, I have discovered that we have many hundreds of parking violations tickets that have not been paid,” Rhodus wrote. “I am obligated as your Chief of Police to enforce the laws of he City of Sylvania and the State of Ohio. This I do as one of my responsibilities as your Chief of Police, and seek a resolution to these unpaid parking ticket violations. To ignore this further or do anything less would be negligent and irresponsible on my part as your chief. I’m sure that you as a law-abiding citizen would agree and expect no less.”
Although both Hill and DelVerne received responses from Rhodus in the form of letters, neither one was satisfied with the chief of police.
“I got his response to my letter; it almost sounded like to me he wanted me to thank him for sending me this nine-year-old parking ticket that was his obligation to follow up on and that I should expect no less,” Hill said.
“Immediately I wrote [a letter] and a couple days later I get a letter back basically saying ‘Screw you, our database says you owe it,’” DelVerne said.
Both parties have since paid the $20 ticket but maintain their distaste in how the situation was handled. With such a long period of time transpiring, each feel they had no opportunity to disprove the situation and that Rhodus should have backed off the issued tickets.
“If it would have been a year or a couple of years I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about it,” Hill said. “It is wrong. Justice delayed is justice denied. It’s wrong for them to collect.”
“We paid it and have a bad taste in our mouths,” DelVerne said. “Hopefully this guy doesn’t come after us for any tax money because we are certainly not going to help him anymore.”