By Ryan Lillis
Sacramento's "crash tax" appears headed for the breakdown lane.
The City Council voted tonight 5-4 to place an item on a future agenda that would repeal the controversial fire cost recovery program, which charges out-of-town drivers who cause auto wrecks in the city requiring a response from the fire department.
The council had voted last month to enact the fee program and it was scheduled to go into effect last week. But a procedural hiccup brought the program back to the council tonight, opening the door to its reversal.
City staffers had asked the council to suspend competitive bidding and settle on Roseville-based Fire Recovery USA as the city's billing agent for the crash tax. Under a proposed contract, Fire Recovery USA would take 17 percent of the fees collected.
But suspending competitive bidding requires a two-thirds vote from the council - or six of nine votes. And the crash tax only had the support of four council members and Mayor Kevin Johnson.
Now the fee is almost certain to be erased before it ever was used. Council members who supported voting on repealing the fee were Jay Schenirer, Sandy Sheedy, Rob Fong, Darrell Fong and Bonnie Pannell.
"I don't think this is the right policy for us," said Schenirer, who made the motion to vote on repealing the crash tax.