The Bay City Commission is calling on Bay City Bridge Partners to lower fees after issues with the beginning of tolling.

During this week’s City Commission meeting, a resolution by Commissioner Christopher Girard passed, asking Bay City Bridge Partners to temporarily reduce tolls to $1 for non-city residents, and to ensure that no City residents were improperly tolled. This comes after BCBP sent out thousands of invoices in the rollout of pay-by-mail billing, which resulted in many residents voicing complaints about being improperly billed or having difficulty with the organization’s responsiveness.

BCBP General Manager Terry Velligan addressed the commission earlier in the meeting, saying, “The vast majority of issues are people who received a pay-by-mail invoice because they did not set up a BC-Pass account, or the vehicle in question was not listed on an active BC-Pass account…”

Velligan said there were some issues were caused by automated systems falsely billing customers, in which case the extra charges were dismissed.

Commissioner Andrea Burney, who is running against Girard for Mayor, called the resolution a political move, while Commissioner Joseph Rivet said it was giving residents false hope, as the City has no power to demand a reduction. Girard responded, saying the request could go a long way to repair goodwill with residents in and around Bay City.

“The truth is, is they can turn around and say ‘no’ to this. All this is asking them to make that consideration because of some of the things they’ve had. They’re trying to fix some things. I acknowledge that, but we have city residents having to sue them to resolve issues. That’s a problem,” said Girard.

On Thursday, Velligan and Bay City Bridge Partners released the following statement:

“Customers are responding to our initial round of toll statements, which consisted of thousands of invoices in a matter of days. Those who did not establish a BC-PASS account — despite our numerous and consistent outreach efforts — are taking advantage of our promotional offer and converting their accounts to a BC-PASS which also includes a reduction of their toll bill. Eligible City of Bay City residents are also being assisted with clearing any toll transactions, establishing a BC-PASS account, and receiving their free transponder which will be used to maintain their resident discount going forward. We are helping each customer individually and, with each interaction, we are taking the opportunity to educate the community on how all-electronic tolling works. We appreciate everyone’s patience.”