Torres Wants To Place Brakes On Car Towing, Taking Of Property

Torres on bike
Sometimes a bike is better. Torres on his campaign bike.

City Councilman Enrique Torres, a Republican mayoral candidate, has authored three resolutions “to slow or block the city from aggressive collection practices” for motor vehicles, property taxes and Water Pollution Control Authority fees. “Where most of us approve of diligence in tax collection, the city has entered into a bad realm,” Torres writes on his Facebook page following the recent controversy of booting and towing tax-delinquent cars.

“Cars booted for as little as $76 owed,” Torres writes. “WPCA civil action for as little as $500 owed. Many people have lost their homes. The net effect is for the city to lose tax revenues and WPCA fees as the city’s stockpile of foreclosed homes grows.”

Torres proposes the booting of a vehicle may not be employed until the taxpayer is in arrears at $750, for WPCA action $2,000 and the “taking of homes by foreclosures must only be employed after consultation and approval” of the City Council.

Excerpt from Torres resolution:

WHEREAS, the testimony of the city finance director states that the car booting program triggers at a taxpayer debt level of $100.00; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that taking of vehicles and the action of “booting” must only be employed after the car taxpayer is in arrears in taxes to a new trigger level of $750.00 multiple offenses and that a certified letter submitted to the owners of said vehicle describing the action to be taken and any agreement with booting and towing companies recognize the city to be in the first lienholder position when taking action is needed and that notice be provided to the appropriate City Council Committee for their approval of said action.

It’s unclear how much support Torres has among his council peers, but some expressed anguish at their low-income constituents booted for relatively small arrearages that causes much higher amounts to reclaim their vehicle.



  1. Bridgeport is a city of working poor. None of the houses in Black Rock or the North Side are booted for delinquent taxes. The red-light cameras are not mounted at intersections in leafy residential neighborhoods. The cameras and the booting happen in ‘hoods full of renters with marginal incomes. Poverty is being criminalized in Bridgeport so Bill Finch can reward campaign contributors with no-strings-attached 35-year tax abatements that provide absolutely no benefit to the people of the city of Bridgeport, for development that creates no long-term employment opportunities for city residents.

    1. Actually, boots have been on many cars in Black Rock. And on Cleveland street a very lovely home was in the CT Post notice section on the WPCA hit list. There are more people in the “more prosperous” areas of town living on a wing and a prayer than you may realize.

    2. There are no red light cameras in the state. The law never passed. The cameras that are mounted on traffic lights are traffic cameras, not red light cams.

  2. Good job, Ricky. Did you know 40% of the population of Bridgeport makes $30,000 or less per year and almost 20% makes $15,000 or less per year? With that kind of income it’s pretty damned tough to pay rent, buy food and pay your utilities and then having to pay to remove a boot off your car because you can’t pay $76 in back taxes. Mayor Finch needs to be ashamed of himself.

  3. The programs Enrique Torres is angry about target the working poor most of the time. They also acquire property for towing companies, realtors and the like without any oversight from city officials. Why was that clown Valentino allowed to seize automobiles under color of authority without having to remit a portion of the proceeds to the city’s tax collector? It is a criminal system, rigged to benefit those with connections to city hall.

    1. The tax collector’s office has said money collected from sale or scrapping of seized automobiles is eaten up by towing and storage and judicial marshals’ fees with little if anything going to the city’s coffers. What a pile of utter bullshit. How do they think the city is supposed to make money, growing on trees in a community garden? Bob Halstead can tell you that is not organically possible.

      Once a car is booted and towed, the owner of record cannot register another automobile without paying the towing and storage fees, VioLert’s $95.00 “processing” fee and back taxes. If the car’s owner cannot pay a lousy hundred bucks in back taxes, what makes Bill Finch and his wonderdog Adam “Pecker” Wood think they’ll be able to pay more than that? The poor are being screwed here, by City Hall and a do-nothing (and I mean not one fucking thing) City Council. Regardless of your party affiliation, Mr. Torres is on the spot with this one. So many people in Bridgeport are living below the poverty line and desperately trying to climb above it. The Mayor’s office is making it that much harder for us to do.

      Bill Finch for mayor? Fuck that. Entrenched party machine politics? Fuck that. Time for a change? You betcha.

  4. Two busy evenings for Eneida Martinez to chair the Ordinance Committee with multiple committee members wanting to express themselves fully on the issues. The Council has looked at the issue before, perhaps seven years ago, and that is where the $100 threshold was suggested and accepted by the City as an operating procedure. In addition to Council members City Attorney Mark Anastasi and Finance Director Anne Kelly-Lenz carried the ball for the City in as much as Ann was Tax Collector previous to moving to the Finance Director position. Russell Liskov spoke on Monday night relating to the WPCA procedures.
    But the public has not been heard. And we are likely to hear from towing operators as well as members of the public on both the car tax/booting issue and the WPCA tax liening issue leading to foreclosure.
    From where I sit, there is no doubt the City must pursue tax collections in an efficient manner and one that is fair to all concerned. The City in its bulk sale of liens removes itself with one action from the problem and gets dollars to spend on services. The taxpayer who fails to pay taxes initially or with one of the four reminders wants to pay the least in terms of interest, towing and parking fees, etc.. But aside from those stakeholders there is the specter of “windfalls” to certain operators in the taking of property and that should be avoided as ultimately probably less effective. Finally as Lydia Martinez mentioned (as did several listeners) perhaps the City might sacrifice a small bit of efficiency to encourage local investment in foreclosed property. Several public hearings on the Ordinance matters were authorized and will be held. Will the public come out, offer comments, and help shape public policy along with the Council? Time will tell.

  5. Don,
    I agree with you to an extent. But if someone cannot pay a $76 tax bill they will not be able to pay a $750 bill as it accumulates. So are we kidding ourselves here with this solution?

  6. This whole “boot” program punishes residents for the problems the Finch administration created. This spend, borrow, tax administration has raised our taxes six times in eight years, “real” unemployment in this city is over 20%, as Donald points out 60% of the residents make $30,000 or less, all major industries have been driven out (Sikorsky being the most recent 400 jobs), 50% of available properties pay no tax, connected cronies owe tens of millions of dollars in back taxes with no intention of paying, our police department is understaffed and our schools are failing, but who pays the price? When are we going to stop this madness?

  7. The WPCA has a similar program. If a property owner falls more than $500 behind in paying the water bill, the WPCA can (and does) foreclose on the property. There is one widow, owes $500.00. The WPCA quickly moved to seize her property. This caused the amount owed to balloon to more than $17,000.00. The house is evaluated at $250,000.00; anyone with $73,000 cash can snap it up at auction. The widow does not have the financial resources to fight this legal but immoral and unethical civil action. Forced out of the house she’s lived in for decades, probably raised her family there. All for five hundred fucking dollars’ worth of chlorinated water.

    Nice little ball game the mayor is running through this program and the “boot and tow” scam. If Chuckles the Clown were running for mayor of Bridgeport he’d have my vote over little Billy Finch, any day of the week.

    1. Charles Valentino, formerly a state marshal, stole hundreds of cars and other personal property from our neighbors with city permission.

      Here is the deal. The city calls Charlie, he boots the car of mostly poor people for as little as $90 owed in back taxes. Then before the owners could pay the boot fee and back taxes and penalties, Charlie boy would tow the cars. Since the cars are of little value, the owners just abandon the cars to Charlie.

      Here is the kicker. Today Brian Lockhart from the CT Post calls Anne Kelly-Lenz, the person in charge, to ask why would the city not check who they were sending out to boot? Annie says: “well most of the time the city doesn’t get anything back.” She continues: “we don’t have the room to take these cars anyhow, so we just let Charlie take them.”

      So let me get this straight. This rotten administration:
      1) that collects the highest property taxes in the country,
      2) that also has among the poorest people in the state,
      3) those same people needing transportation to get to their low-income jobs or to simply go pick up groceries or medicine,
      4) who when they are behind on their taxes (which the city never loses as to reregister a car those taxes must be paid with 18% interest) are immediately booted for an additional fee of $125,
      5) who then within two days their cars are towed at a $75 rate, and stored for $75 per day,
      6) but then incredibly the city gets nothing back for the process.



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