Towing meeting and city lawsuit
By Shellie Berg
By Shellie Berg
Rockford aldermen called a special meeting Thursday in council chambers to scrutinize methods used for towing.
Aldermen Dan Jacobson, (D-6), Pat Curran (R-2) and Ed Akre (R-11) want to investigate complaints made by towing companies and individuals.
We received complaints where a car was towed, and the owner of the car was unable to retrieve the car because the people wouldnt release it, Curran stated. They had to wait a couple of days. Our ordinance frowns on that sort of operation and procedure. There are a number of areas that need to be looked at.
According to Akre, the city currently has a lawsuit against A-1 Towing, alleging expensive towing fees and improper storage.
Kathy Elliot of the citys legal department said the lawsuit was filed in 1998.
Akre said the company is charging anywhere from $100 to $300 for tows, although the citys ordinance allows a maximum tow charge of $65. Cars may be towed for parking in unauthorized areas.
Akre also believes the company is being run out of a home. Akre doesnt know where the home is located. He also said that possibly, the company is towing cars to sides of streets. Automobiles must be stored in proper storage areas.
Towing companies generally charge between $15 and $20 for storage per day. People are irked when they arent allowed to retrieve their cars until one or two days later, depending on when the towing company allows them to get the car.
Thats absolutely no way to run a business, Curran stated. If they stall you for another day, its another 20 bucks.
Also, towing company representatives who showed up at the meeting said they think other towing companies are getting more business.
When accidents occur or when cars are parked in unauthorized areas, police officers are supposed to present a list of towing companies for those involved or rotate through the list companies when only their choice is involved. The question has been raised whether police have favored particular businesses over others.
Traffic Sgt. Tom Nimmo disagreed with the allegations that police are favoring some companies over others. Our officers have been explicitly told they cant recommend one towing company over another, Nimmo stated. There would be nothing for them to gain one way or the other.
He said sometimes towing companies may be getting more business than others. He noted police sometimes call companies and reach an answering machine, an answering service, or no one picks up the phone. He said afterward, the officer would call the next company on the list.
Furthermore, discontent trickled to aldermen after On The Waterfront. You go
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down there, and theres a lot of places that say Unauthorized Parking, Akre said. People are parking in those places because they cant find a parking spot.
Akre said the solution is simply to enforce existing ordinances. Curran said that overall, towing companies meet standards. For the most part, weve had compliance, he stated. For the most part, I commend all towers.
Curran noted the city will review comments provided at the forum, and the aldermen will make recommendations to the Code and Regulation Committee. The city has yet to decide when another forum will take place.
Curran said the city has reviewed towing issues before, and now, its just risen again. Its not a burning issue, he stated. Its just something we need to look at, and we are. Its not our intent to put anybody out of business. Its important that we just not do this blindly.