UNION COUNTY — The ordinance governing the use of wrecker and towing services by law enforcement has been rewritten to bring it in line with state standards.
Supervisor Tommy Sinclair said that the revised ordinance, which was approved this week by Union County Council, replaces the language in the old ordinance that he said was old and in need of updating. Sinclair said the revised ordinance standardizes the regulations that the affected law enforcement agencies will operate under in their use of wrecker and towing services. He said it also brings the ordinance into line with state standards for use of such services in the county by local and other law enforcement agencies.
In addition, Sinclair said the new ordinance will allow local wrecker and towing services to charge the same fees when they tow for local law enforcement that they do when they tow for the SCHP. The new fees were not in the revised ordinance originally, but in approving third and final reading Tuesday, council added the stipulation that the new fees be inserted. Sinclair said the new fees will take effect in 2014.
The new maximum fees, which are based on the type of wrecker used, are:
• Standard tow for a collision/stranded motorist: $185 (Class A), $275 (Class B), $450 per hour (Class C).
• Special operations (hourly charge): $90 (Class A), $150 (Class B)
• Storage fee (per unit): $30 (Class A), $40 (Class B), $50 (Class C)
During Tuesday’s council meeting, Sheriff David Taylor spoke about his office’s use of wrecker and towing services. Taylor said that the majority of the towing is done at the behest of the SCHP because of its handling of traffic-related issues such as automobile accidents. He said his office uses wrecker and towing services only when an arrest is made and a vehicle has to be towed.
“It averages to one call per wrecker service a month for us,” Taylor said.
Taylor described the decision to update the ordinance and included the new fees as “smart on our part.” He said that the new ordinance will allow his office to deal with any instance of price gouging that might occur.
In addition to the new fees, the revised ordinance also states that each emergency dispatcher will use “an alphabetical listing of wrecker and towing service providers maintained by the Union County Sheriff’s Office.” This list includes “wrecker and towing service providers that have requested to be added to the alphabetical listing” and have have met the performance requirements for being placed on the list.
Those requirements include being available 24 hours a day, seven days and week and keeping “proper records of vehicles, license numbers, date, time and location from which a vehicle towed, with the name of the person authorizing the towing. Each wrecker or towing service shall be required to remove all debris at the location from which a vehicle was towed. All wrecker towing service storage charges shall be reasonable, and any proof of unreasonable charges shall be grounds for removal from the Rotation Lists.”
Listed services are also required to use vehicles that have “appropriate, up to date safety equipment to include (without limitation): Fire extinguishers, warning devices, flashlights, and all other equipment necessary to protect the motoring public. All safety equipment shall be maintained in good working order.”
Companies included on the list must also have liability insurance of no less than $300,000 for a Class A wrecker, $500,000 for a Class B wrecker, and $750,000 for a Class C wrecker. They are also required to have insurance that covers the towed vehicles, cargo or other property carried by their vehicles and garage keepers insurance.
The ordinance also states that dispatchers will have “distinctive” rotation lists for the sheriff’s office, the SCHP, the Union Public Safety Department, and the Jonesville Police Department. It also states that the sheriff’s office or SCHP shall use the lists “for law enforcement requested towing, and the dispatcher shall select and provide a wrecker or towing service provider from the appropriate Rotation Lists by selecting the next name on the lists, which will be rotated alphabetically after each call.”
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.