Friday, August 8, 2008

An Insanely Abusive Towing Scheme In Poughkeepsie, New York

Pictured above: Hudson River Hospital for the Insane, Poughkeepsie, New York

Poughkeepsie, New York officials find themselves facing a $1.85 million budget shortfall, but that's OK. They plan to balance the budget on the backs of citizens who get their vehicles towed...

According to this article, the evil plan involves increasing administrative fees to get back impounded cars from $50 to $75 (ka-ching) raising the towing fee from $65 to $100 (ka-ching) and jacking up storage costs for impounded cars from $10 to $25 per day. (ka--oh, never mind)

The focus of the article is on the fact police would now be able to impound vehicles with six or more delinquent parking tickets. (Before, the law was such vehicles could only be towed when found illegally parked) There was a whole lot of talk about cracking down on ticket scofflaws, but the towing fees appear to impact EVERYBODY, not just a small number of scofflaws.

By talking a whole lot about the scofflaws while increasing towing fees for EVERYBODY, the politicians pulled a bait-and-switch. Would it have been possible to increase the various fees ONLY FOR THE PARKING SCOFFLAWS? I don't see why not. But that doesn't appear to be what happened.

Not all the council members wanted to rake the Poughkeepsie public over the coals, however. Mary Solomon (D-Ward 6) and Gwen Johnson (D-Ward 7) both thought the proposed fees were too high. I can't help but note another article from the same region of New York which talks about how the economic downturn has become a windfall...for the repo man.

One commentator on the article going by the handle "hydeparkny" wrote: Of course the (Poughkeepsie) Journal doesn't tell us *where* these parking violations occur. My guess is many of them are "alternate side" violations. Enforcement of "alternate side" is nothing but a revenue grab because the city doesn't actually clean or plow the streets to the curb, which is the whole point of the alternate side scheme."

Meanwhile, staff at the office of the City Administrator are GOING CRAZY trying to figure out how to increase more fees because of the projected budget shortfall. Prepare to kiss your hard-earned money goodbye, citizens of Poughkeepsie.

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