District motorists whose vehicles are towed or booted for parking violations will soon have to dig deeper to pay the fines.
The D.C. Council voted last night to increase the fine for towing vehicles from $50 to $75 and to double the $25 cost of freeing cars that are booted.
The council also increased the city's borrowing authority by $50 million to help meet the District's short-term debts and deferred action on a plan to raise non-union city employees' salaries by 2 percent. All three actions are designed to address the District's fiscal crisis, which city officials say is worsening.
The towing and booting increases come a month after the city doubled some fines for speeding, and parking and pedestrian violations.
The action taken last night, approved in a voice vote, more than triples the cost of towing large vehicles such as tractor-trailers and buses, from the current $50 to $175.
The city booted 22,622 vehicles in fiscal 1989, and towed 22,624, bringing in combined revenue of $1.2 million. City officials said the increases, the first since 1979, will add an additional $1 million to city coffers next year.
The increases, approved as an emergency proposal, take effect as soon as the measure is signed by Mayor Marion Barry. The council is expected to approve a permanent plan soon.
Council member John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2), chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, told his colleagues that the emergency vote was needed because officials had included nearly a half-million dollars in anticipated collections from the increases in the 1990 fiscal budget projection.
Department of Public Works spokeswoman Tara Hamilton said the increases are also needed to offset the rising costs of operating the 10-year-old Parking Enforcement Program, which oversees towing and booting.
The $50 million increase in the District's borrowing authority is only half that requested by the Barry administration. Wilson's committee reduced the amount last week because of concern about the city's ability to repay it.
"I don't think we can repay the $100 million," Wilson told last night's meeting. "It's a bad situation."
The D.C. government already has borrowed $200 million in short-term loans to help get it through the fiscal year.
Wilson said the city needs the money to meet a $58 million payment to the fund for police, firefighters' and teachers' pensions by July 1.
The short-term notes, which are used to cover obligations when the city runs short of money because of uneven tax collections, must be repaid by the end of the fiscal year in September.
Wilson said that even with the $50 million short-term infusion, the city still faces obligations that it may be unable to meet because of government overspending and an economic downturn.
This month, the city's bond rating was lowered by a major Wall Street rating agency, and last week city officials reported that tax collections had fallen $28 million behind projections for the year.
Those and other problems led council members to defer action last night on a proposed 2 percent pay increase for non-union city employees.
Mayor Barry requested the delay in a letter to the council, saying he wanted to study the matter further. Barry also expressed a need, echoed by council members, to convene a "summit" to discuss the District's deepening financial crisis.
Wilson said the meeting may be held in the next few weeks.