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That SafeClear Tow Will Now Set You Back $50

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Mayor Annise Parker announced a new wrinkle to the city's SafeClear program this morning -- that forced towing of your stalled car from the highway, the one you can't refuse? It'll now cost fifty bucks.

Roadside assistance, such as fixing a flat, will be $30.

Parker said the city will save $3.5 million, which will be applied to balancing its budget.

"We have a responsibility to the motoring public to keep traffic moving and provide safety for those experiencing breakdowns," Parker said. "We also have a responsibility to taxpayers to do this in a fiscally responsible manner. The changes proposed are a result of Council Member [Sue] Lovell's work with stakeholders and will allow us to meet all of these responsibilities."

Owners of towed cars who are unable to come up with the $50 immediately will get 48 hours free storage "to give the customer time to secure the $50," the city said.

The city will set aside $100,000 for car owners "who are senior citizens, disabled or with incomes below the poverty line to cover the cost of the towing fee if they are unable to pay."

"We can no longer afford to subsidize this program," Lovell said. "However, we do need to take into account that there are residents in our community who cannot afford the fee. The changes outlined today provide a mechanism for assisting this segment of our motoring public. I want to be clear, neither the City of Houston nor the SafeClear tow truck drivers want to keep your vehicle."

If approved by council, the changes would take effect in June.

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