City councilman Richard Fimbres wants to shrink this year’s budget gap by adjusting city towing contracts so Tucson can capture dollars from auctioned cars.
Currently, when a car is deemed abandoned and auctioned-off, the city doesn’t receive a dime.
Before 2011, no municipality in Arizona received money from impounded vehicles that eventually wound up at auction, Fimbres said. But that changed when a Pima County Sheriff’s Office employee figured it was time the county started getting a cut of the revenue.
That employee, Frank Gonzales, said towing companies shouldn’t keep all the money associated with unclaimed vehicles. So the county changed its contract and now receives a 60 percent cut when a vehicle is auctioned.
Gonzales said the change puts about $1 million more a year into county coffers.
Fimbres proposes the city should adopt a policy similar to the County and start reaping in some of that money. He said based on Gonzales’ early projections, the city could fetch up to $4 million a year.
The money could offset costs associated with police and fire, Fimbres said.
Gonzales said the city would have brought in around $10 million more between 2010 and 2013 if it had such a policy.
Fimbres will broach the subject during Tuesday’s city council meeting to gauge his colleagues’ interest.
At least one councilmember is unsettled by the plan and doesn’t believe the city should profit on residents’ misfortune.
“Something doesn't feel right in my gut going after peoples' cars who are least able to pay to get them out of impoundment,” Councilman Steve Kozachik said. “We shouldn't put a false incentive in front of our Parkwise people or (Tucson Police Department) to find revenue through taking somebody's car.”