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Syracuse extends booting company's contract; no bidding process for three years

Tom Magnarelli
Councilor Nader Maroun (left) of the Syracuse Common Council.

The city of Syracuse will enter into a three-year agreement with a company it has been using to boot cars with unpaid parking tickets. The contract was held up over questions about how aggressive the company has been in booting vehicles.

The city of Syracuse is owed $6 million from 80,000 unpaid parking tickets. Of those tickets, 18,000 are on boot-eligible vehicles, meaning they have three or more overdue tickets. The city has been using the company PayLock to boot cars since 2009. But Councilor Nader Maroun had been resistant to renewing PayLock’s contract without opening the process up to other companies in a competitive bidding process known as a request for proposal or RFP.

“There are other companies across the nation that do this,” Maroun said. “Let’s do an RFP to see what’s out there, and see if we can’t negotiate also a better price structure for the city and if we can’t be more assertive in trying to collect these. Even if we were able to collect $3 million of the $6 million, that paves a lot of roads that need to be paved. That fixes a lot of water main breaks. Let's take another look. This was 2008 when we first put out the RFP. This is 2016-17. Let's look at some other options.”

The city of Syracuse pays Paylock $50 a boot, plus 28 percent of the ticket revenue. A bidding process did not happen, though. The contract had been on the council’s agenda for at least two months. That's because there were communication issues between Maroun and Beth Rougeux, the director of administration for the mayor’s office. Rougeux said not moving forward with the contract would put a $600,000 hole in the city’s budget.

Ultimately, the council voted to keep Paylock, and a bidding process is expected to be conducted at the end of the three year contract. 

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.