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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Towing Caps Run Into Hitch In Greenville, SC

Here's the story from the Greenville News:

A law that would cap what tow trucks can charge when they take a car from private property without the owner's permission is back on the drawing board after sustained opposition from a group of tow operators that grew to about 15 people Tuesday.The proposed caps came after Greenville County officials and truck drivers said some people are paying as much as $1,700, traveling out of state and even losing their vehicles after they were towed from lots where
no-parking signs were poorly posted.

However, Councilman Jim Burns said Tuesday he has received a lot of complaints from opponents of the measure and questioned how a council committee came up with the proposed towing caps: $50 for the lightest vehicles, plus a $10 daily storage fee, and $300 for the
largest rigs, plus $50 a day for storage. Mike Barnes of Barnes Towing in Greer told council members they don't know what it costs to tow a car and said caps elsewhere are $130 or more.
Councilman Joe Dill, a garage owner who chairs the Public Safety Committee and originally brought up the issue, said he didn't know where the county's proposed rates came from.
County Attorney Mark Tollison said the rates in the initial county proposal -- $100 for small cars
and $400 for the biggest rigs -- came from similar laws in other areas both in and out of South Carolina. However, Dill's committee lowered those fees, and Dill later said it was the result of calling towing companies and asking what they charge.

Council members said Tuesday they need a more objective approach to rate caps. Councilman Bob Taylor said people who park on private property are breaking the law, and that the county should pause before giving them consideration instead of towing companies. Dill said the proposed caps may need adjusting and agreed to take the issue back to his committee.A local
insurance official has previously told Dill’s committee that the proposed caps of $200 and $300 for the biggest vehicle categories are “reasonable,” and that the county needs to make sure tow companies can’t get around the caps by adding gate fees and other add-ons.

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