Ask the Mayor: Who Pays for the Removal of Abandoned Vehicles?
Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.
Q: Our street in Kīhei has been plagued with abandoned vehicles—some Maui cruisers; some a result of the illegal auto repair shop in our neighborhood.
When these vehicles are tagged and finally towed away, who pays for this? Some of these vehicles have license plates, some don’t. Is owner billed for the cost? If taxpayer-funded, does the county receive any payment for the scrap metal value to offset the cost? Thanks.
A: There is a $5 fee added to every vehicle registration in Maui County that goes into the Highway Beautification Revolving Fund. This fund is dedicated to getting rid of abandoned vehicles as well as other programs that keep our roadways clean and clear.
The county does hold the last registered owner, or the last person named on a Notice of Transfer, responsible for administration, towing and storage costs, less any proceeds should the vehicle be sold at auction. Owners are sent a Letter of Demand after cars have been auctioned or scrapped; however, frequently, these demand letters are returned unopened or ignored.
The county is developing a system to send delinquent accounts over $100 to county’s contracted collection agency. At this time, though, no accounts have yet been sent to collections.
Another way we recover costs is through the bimonthly auction of abandoned vehicles but this recovers only a fraction of actual program costs.
The bottom line is that owners are supposed to be responsible, but mostly they do not pay, and the Highway Beautification Revolving Fund covers the costs.
Want to Ask the Mayor?
Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email, by phone at 270-7855 or by mail to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the Ask the Mayor column.