Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New Private Property Tow Caps In TX

Here's the press release from Southwest Tow Operators. Looks like working with legislators does prove to be good thing some of the time!
In 2009, the Texas legislature mandated that the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) set maximum fees for private property tows.  Southwest Tow Operators has been working with TDLR and Morningside Research and Consulting for the last year to assist in setting fair rate caps.  Members were asked to provide financial data and to participate in two different focus groups.  After the Morningside report was issued, the Towing, Storage, and Booting Advisory Board met and voted on rate caps to recommend to the TDLR Commissioners.  Those recommendations were then published for public comment for thirty days.  The Advisory Board reconvened on August 3rd to review public comments and hear public testimony and made final recommendations to the TDLR Commissioners.
After listening to public testimony, TDLR Commissioners voted on Monday, August 9th to set the final private property tow fee caps.  Effective September 1st, they are as follows:
Light duty tow: $250, drop fee: $125
Medium duty tow: $350, drop fee: $175
Heavy duty tow: $450 (per unit), drop fee: $225 (per unit)
Commissioners also voted to require tow operators to accept credit cards as payment for drop fees.
The new tow fee caps only apply to private property tows and do not supersede any local rate caps.  If a city or county has regulated the fees, the State caps do not apply and towers must abide by the local regulations. The exception to this is that the tow operator may not charge a private property fee over the new caps, even if the city or county regulated rates exceed these new caps.
Many Southwest Tow Operator members made multiple trips to the State Capital to testify on the expenses incurred providing this service to private properties.  Commissioners stated that the industry testimony definitely resulted in higher fees than they originally thought justified with just reading the study.
“Southwest Tow Operators is very happy with the fee caps TDLR has implemented.  We feel that the guidelines will allow tow operators in unregulated areas to cover their expenses and still prevent any abuse of the general public.  We think the public will be well-protected now with the caps in place statewide and with strict TDLR enforcement.  We would like to thank the members that spent so much time in Austin working on this.  We would also like to thank the members that provided their financial data to Morningside.  Without this data and testimony, the rate caps could have been set too low.  We think it truly made a difference in the caps that were set.  Towers all over Texas should thank these individuals for helping in this effort.”   Joann Messina, Legislative Chair

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