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Council votes down increasing vehicle boot fine

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Parking fines in the city of Hudson have increased from $8 to $10.
May 16, 2018 11:15 pm

HUDSON — The Common Council defeated a resolution to increase vehicle booting fees by $40, but approved the increase of fines for parking meter violations by $2 Tuesday.

The Common Council voted 9-0 against raising the vehicle booting fine from $110 to $150. Fourth Ward Alderman John Rosenthal was absent. Common Council Thomas DePietro abstained.

Violators with three or more outstanding parking tickets for more than 45 days may find their vehicle booted, or another security device attached to immobilize their vehicle, according to the city code.

The owner must pay a $110 fee to have the boot removed.

The tow company keeps the entire fee, which covers the cost of applying and removing the boot.

Booting was temporarily suspended more than 2 years ago after several residents were unable to pay the vehicle boot fines on weekends. During the week, fines are paid at City Hall, 520 Warren St., but city hall is closed weekends.

Hudson police could take payments on weekends for booted cars, Chief L. Edward Moore said at the council meeting.

The city decided to pursue booting once again because owners of hundreds of vehicles have not paid fines, Moore said at the Common Council meeting Tuesday.

“Part of the reason we got this discussion going is there is literally hundreds of tickets out there,” Moore said. “Some vehicles that we know that parking agents go by owe over $1,000. In some cases it’s close to $2,000.”

“I also think there is a feeling in the public right now that if they [those who have been fined] don’t pay their fine, that there will be no resolution,” Moore said. “This will go on forever because nothing is going to happen to them. I do believe that [idea] is prevalent.”

Tow companies cited increased costs associated with the purchase, attachment and removal of vehicle boots as the reason for the proposed increase.

“It seemed like when we talked to them that that was the going rate,” Hudson police Lt. David Miller said. “Like, if you were to go to Kingston or Albany or Poughkeepsie, that was the going rate. It seemed like we didn’t just come up with that figure. It seemed like a fair figure.”

Fines in Kingston and Albany for boot removal are less than those of Hudson. In both cities, parking authorities handle booting, not the police or towing companies. Tow companies become involved when the vehicle owner does not pay the boot fee and the vehicle must be towed.

Kingston and Albany each charge a $40 fine for boot removal. In Albany, a vehicle owner has 48 hours to pay the fine before the vehicle is towed. The towing fee is set by the tow company. The $40 fine goes to the Albany Parking Authority, which installs and removes the vehicle boots.

Before the discussion of the resolution began, DePietro said that it was not about booting or not booting, but instead about increasing the fee from $110 to $150. But, at times, the conversation veered in the direction of booting.

First Ward Alderman Rob Bujan, 4th Ward Alderman Rich Volo and 1st Ward Alderman Kamal Johnson all expressed interest in looking into alternatives to vehicle booting.

The police department doesn’t have any view on vehicle booting, but was enforcing the city code, Moore said. Local Law No. 3 of 2011 gives the Common Council the authority to set the fee for vehicle boot attachment and removal, Moore said.

“My concern for my constituents is what they can afford,” said 2nd Ward Alderwoman Tiffany Garriga. “If they need the boot and they are disobeying the law and they have to get a boot, they have to get a boot. But my concern is, Can they afford it to be able to get their car back and pay their fine?”

Neither the parking bureau agents or police officers should apply or remove boots, Moore said. The city purchased several boots many years ago, intending to attach them without the tow companies, but questions arose about who would attach them, Moore said.

“It was thought better that the towing guys should do it because they are insured and this is what they do,” Moore said.

With the resolution defeated, Moore said he would meet with the tow companies to see if they would be willing to offer the service without the fee increase.

Common Council members voted, 6-3, Tuesday in favor of changing the city code and increasing the parking meter violation fines from $8 to $10. Johnson, Garriga, 3rd Ward Alderman Calvin Lewis Jr. voted against the local law. DePietro abstained and Rosenthal was absent. There was no discussion before the vote was passed.

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to apurcell@thedailymail.net, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.