Those who owe back taxes on their cars and trucks may soon find their vehicle locked with a metal boot until they fork over the cash – along with another $175 to have the boot removed.
The city is eyeing a contract with Georgia-based VioAlert Systems to allow it to use license plate scanning equipment across town to find tax scofflaws and slap boots on vehicles that have unpaid property tax bills.
The move won’t cost the city any money – except for administrative time in supplying updated lists of tax deadbeats – but may help scrape up more tax revenue.
“We’re trying to do whatever we can to get dollars,” city Purchasing Agent Roger Rousseau said Monday.
The proposed deal, which city councilors will consider Tuesday, would allow VioAlert to put boots on the wheels of cars whose owners have failed to pay vehicle taxes.
It would make its money by collecting $175 in additional charges in order for someone to have the boot removed.
VioAlert, which is already operating in a handful of Connecticut municipalities, was the only bidder when the city sought companies interested in trying out the license plate scanning concept to track down tax scofflaws.
The $175 fee it proposed for Bristol is higher than it is levying elsewhere.
In Danbury, vehicle owners whose car or truck is booted have to pay $130 to get the device removed.
In West Haven, where officials bought $10,000 worth of boots for VioAlert to use, scofflaws pay $95 to get the boot removed.
In New Haven, however, VioAlert quit the city when it found that charging $55 for removal of its boots wasn’t profitable, according to a story in the New Haven Independent.
Though the program in Bristol will initially focus on those with unpaid vehicle taxes, Rousseau said in a memorandum to Mayor Art Ward and City Clerk Therese Pac that it is structured in such a way that it could also be used to crack down on those with unpaid parking tickets.
Officials aren’t sure how much money the new program might bring in to City Hall or to VioAlert.
“There’s no telling how many license plates they’ll get,” Rousseau said.
License plate scanning technology has been around since the 1970s, but only in the past decade has it been widely used to check plate numbers against lists of those who owe for parking tickets or taxes.
City councilors will consider the idea when they meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers on the first floor of City Hall. There is a public comment portion at the beginning of the session.
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