City overpaid $1M for towing
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City of Winnipeg officials say the city overpaid for towing service to the tune of about $1 million over six years and are proposing a settlement to resolve the dispute.
The agreement would involve Tartan Towing paying the municipal government $15,000 per month “to start” and ultimately repaying $446,250.40 within two years, if council approves it.
In an emailed statement, the city said “a significant number” of reported tows on contracts that began in 2016 were “invalid and not reported in accordance with the terms of their contracts,” with a total value of $1,115,626.
The city did not accuse the company of deliberately overcharging.
“No claim that Tartan knowingly overcharged the city has been made… Tartan provides the city with ongoing towing services and the public service wishes to maintain a working relationship,” wrote spokesman Adam Campbell.
Tartan did not return calls for comment.
The report says legal action would be avoided if council approves the settlement.
“If this matter proceeds to trial, the city would have to invest financial and/or human resources to initiate a litigation proceeding and would need to both prove its losses and that Tartan caused the losses,” the report notes.
Coun. Janice Lukes, chairwoman of public works, said she’s concerned the city could receive only part of what it claims to have been overcharged.
“It’s really disappointing… and it’s disappointing that the public service didn’t catch it (earlier),” said Lukes.
The city says the dispute is linked to three courtesy towing contracts, which required the city to pay the company on a per-tow basis and the company to track each tow on an app.
“Courtesy tows” involve moving vehicles to nearby locations without charge to the owners, such as during a residential parking ban.
The city says a review of courtesy tows found a “significant and unreasonable discrepancy between the number of parking tickets issued and the number of courtesy tows reported.”
The city report says the company dismissed some drivers and warned others to carefully report each tow. The city now regularly reviews the reported tows and payments.
“This constitutes a system of checks and balances on both sides,” the report states.
The executive policy committee is set to review the report on March 13.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.