Wilmington City Council to consider raising booting and towing thresholds

Wilmington’s Finance and Economic Development Committee releases an ordinance to raise the fine threshold for booting and towing.

The ordinance would raise the booting threshold to $300, up from $200, and towing to $600, up from $500.

Ordinance sponsor Council member Latisha Bracy says just two red light tickets or two parking tickets with fines could put someone on the booting list.

“So essentially what this is doing is giving our residents a little more time before they are on that booting and tow list.”

Council member Zanthia Oliver backs the ordinance, but hopes to revisit it to evaluate whether higher thresholds are simply creating higher un-payable bills.

“If she can’t pay for two, how can she pay for three? And the towing is increasing," Oliver says. "It looks like it could work one way, but I can see where it could go another. My only thing is to make sure we look at this, review this in six months, so we we’re not doing anything that may harm certain constituents who just don’t have it due to COVID and just the increase in living today.”

Bracy says for people who don’t have the money to pay those fees, this will also give them more time to come to the Department of Finance and make a payment arrangement before their car is immobilized.

"Because once the boot is on the car, the price goes up, because now you’re paying the boot release fee," Bracy says. "And then once the car gets towed, the price goes up even more, because now you’re paying the towing charge. And if you can’t get your car out in a week, now you’re paying the storage.”

Wilmington Finance Director J. Brett Taylor notes they have vehicles with automatic license plate readers that tour the city to identify vehicles with unpaid fines. So even those who are at the threshold could be spared if they are in the right place at the right time.

“We don’t boot that many because we only have two scofflaw vehicles that are touring through the city and we can only get to so many," Taylor says. "I would say there is a good majority of people out there that have over $200 that have yet to get that boot.”

Council President Trippi Congo suggested issuing warnings on vehicles before they are booted or towed.

“I guess we have to think about, what are the goals?" Congo says. "Are the goals to get people to pay the ticket or to get people booted and towed? And I think if the goals are to get people to pay the ticket, we give them a warning... I think we might get better results.”

Council will not consider the ordinance until its June 20 meeting at the earliest.

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