Supervisor Wiener to Introduce Legislation to Use General Funds to Pay for Reduction in MTA Towing Fees

Budget supplemental will ensure that any reduction in towing fees do not impact Muni’s operation budget, which would reduce Muni service

San Francisco – (March 15, 2016) Today, Supervisor Scott Wiener will introduce a budget supplemental to ensure that any reduction in towing fees do not impact Muni’s operational budget. The legislation will allocate money from the general fund to cover the total revenue loss generated by reducing the towing fees, which is currently estimated at $3.5 million. Supervisor Wiener supports the reduction of towing fees, but is concerned about impacting Muni’s ability to provide transit service for San Francisco residents.

“I agree that our towing fees are incredibly high, and I’m supportive of finding ways to reduce the costs, particularly on our low-income residents,” said Supervisor Wiener. “However, if this reduction means that we see less funding for Muni operations, then we are punishing our residents who rely on Muni every day to get to work, to school, and to move about the city. If the Board of Supervisors wants to force MTA to reducing towing fees – as we should – the Board should pay for that cost. Otherwise, Muni riders will pay the cost by having worse Muni service.”

At today’s meeting, the Board of Supervisors will vote on whether to approve a new five year contract between MTA and Auto Return, a private vendor which provides towing service. After a discussion on this contract last week at the Board of Supervisors, MTA agreed to reduce the overall towing cost and to provide relief for low-income people who have their cars towed. During that discussion, Supervisor Wiener announced his intent to submit a budget supplemental to ensure that any reduction in fees is backfilled from the City’s General Fund, not from Muni operations.

The budget supplemental is set for $3.5 million, which is currently the estimated amount of lost revenue to Muni from the towing fee reduction. If the amount changes based on an adjusted estimate or if the fee reductions are amended, the amount in the supplemental will be changed accordingly. This supplemental, which requires approval by a majority of the Board of Supervisors, will go to the Budget Committee for a hearing before returning to the Board for a vote.

Supervisor Wiener has previously worked with MTA to reduce towing fees on victims of car theft. Supervisor Wiener held a hearing in 2014 to explore the need to modify the contract between the MTA and Auto Return to treat owners of towed stolen vehicles more fairly. Thereafter, Supervisor Wiener authored a resolution at the Board of Supervisors calling on the MTA to negotiate a new contract with better terms for owners of stolen towed vehicles. That resolution passed unanimously. The MTA then presented a revised contract extension in response to that resolution, which included relief for victims of car theft. This was approved by the Board of Supervisors.

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