More problems uncovered at city impound as council prepares to switch contractors
On Thursday, San Antonio city council members will vote whether to replace the contractor paid to run the city impound lot. That's where your car is stored if it's crashed, recovered stolen or abandoned.
News 4 Trouble Shooter Jaie Avila was the first to uncover problems there and now he's learned even more vehicles have been sold without their owners getting the required notification.
Wednesday the San Antonio police informed The Trouble Shooters another 107 vehicles were sold at auction during April and the current contractor can't be certain the owners were notified according to state law, because paperwork is missing.
Earlier, Avila reported 67 vehicles were sold during March without required notification letters going out and the police department is still auditing other months to see how many vehicle owners have been affected.
“That's a pretty glaring problem. I was a little taken aback," said Steve Baum, who oversees the contract for SAPD.
SAPD says most of the owners received one warning letter their cars would be sold if they weren't claimed after 35 days. But state law says they're supposed to receive two.
In many cases owners may have just decided it wasn't worth the fees to claim the cars.
However, one owner we spoke to, Mary Sue Pate, says she was saving up money to claim her car after an accident, and had no idea it had been sold at auction.
“Now I have no transportation. I have to depend on other people and I don't like that,” Pate told us in July.
The $48-million contract to run the city's Growdon Impound lot and auction runs out at the end of September. As the Trouble Shooters reported last week, SAPD is recommending the city replace the current contractor, United Road Vehicle Management Solutions with another company: Alanis Wrecker Service, which would team up with an out of state company called Auto Return.
Police Chief William McManus told us the mistakes with notifications were a factor in recommending the change.
“We were due for a bid anyway so certainly that would be a factor in considering a new contractor," McManus said.
District 6 Councilman Greg Brockhouse was more blunt.
“It's a very large factor for me, when you can't do the very basic elements of your job, contract performance, when you are missing to that level. When you are missing key notification processes I think that's a total miss and I think you have to hold the vendor accountable for it," Brockhouse told us.
A senior vice president with United Road Vehicle Management Solutions called with a statement, saying:
"URVMS has had a great relationship with San Antonio since 2008. We believe we did the right thing but did not have back up records to prove that. We did not benefit monetarily from this happening. It was not malicious. It was an error but we tried to make it right."
Senior Joel Braverman says they've sent new letters to vehicle owners letting them know their cars were sold without proper notification and they could contact them to receive any proceeds they are owed.
The new, six-year contract will measure customer service performance and enforce penalties for failing to make state-required notifications.