Lilia Chacon Director of Public Information Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection office 312.744.5365, cell 312.805.9385
The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) announced their newest initiative aimed at minimizing the strain on Chicago’s small businesses. Effective immediately, business owners interested in reaching compliance for certain minor violations will now have the option of pre-paying the fine instead of attending an Administrative Hearing.
“Business owners are seeking relief, and eliminating costly hurdles to compliance is one way to address their concerns. Business owners want to do the right thing when they are found to be in violation, and now have an option to pay a ticket without attending a hearing,” said BACP Commissioner Rosa Escareno. “Now, businesses that are issued tickets for minor violations, such as failing to post their license, will have that same option. They can essentially plead guilty to the violation and pay the fine without the inconvenience of attending a hearing”
Prior to this initiative, when a business owner was issued a citation, they were required to attend a hearing at the Department of Administrative Hearings, and unless the business was a corporation, the owner would be required to hire an attorney to represent them at this hearing. This can be a significant undertaking for small business owners struggling to make ends meet.
“The City has saved small business owners critical time and resources by allowing them to simply pay fines for certain municipal violations, as opposed to requiring them to hire an attorney and appear at a hearing,” said Elliot Richardson, Founder and CEO of the Small Business Advocacy Council (SBAC). “The SBAC applauds the City and Mayor’s Office for implementing this program and making it easier to own a business in Chicago. This is a big win for Chicago’s small business community.”
BACP worked with the Small Business Advocacy Council to develop this initiative and the 9 specific violations eligible for the pre-pay option. The eligible violations are minor and non-life-threatening in nature and are listed below:
These violations were identified to be pre-pay eligible because they are easily correctable and do not impact life-safety of Chicagoans. If a business owner commits multiple violations, they must appear for a hearing if any violation is not pre-pay eligible.
“This initiative does not give a free pass to serious problem businesses that are putting Chicago’s consumers in danger,” said Patricia Jackowiak, Director of the Department of Administrative Hearings. “Rather, it throws a lifeline to small business owners that have made a mistake but are otherwise good operators. They can now correct their mistake, pay the fine, and get back to business.”
Violators will be issued a notice of pre-pay option when they receive an eligible violation. They will then be able to pre-pay via the mail or at any of five Department of Finance payment facilities around the city. BACP anticipates that over 1,000 violations will be eligible for this service annually, affecting nearly 500 small businesses. It also means there will be as many as 500 fewer hearings at DoAH, freeing up the BACP enforcement team to dedicate more time and energy on other cases, such as protecting Chicagoans from consumer fraud and enforcing Chicago’s labor standards laws.
This initiative is the latest effort to reduce red tape and make it easier for small businesses to launch and grow in Chicago. Since Mayor Emanuel announced his Small Business Plan in April, we have: