The Alachua County Commission held a meeting Tuesday to increase maximum towing rates in unincorporated parts of the county.
This means that in the event of a car accident, if the towing company has to come and remove the car from an intersection in traffic, they wouldn’t have to tell the owner of the car anything in order to have it moved and stored, and they would be charged a maximum rate depending on the size and distance for the towers.
“The rates that we were proposing were a lot higher or were some of the highest in the state of Florida.” Vice Chair of the commission Anna Prizzia said.
The owner of the car would not be the one directly paying the higher rates, but the car insurance companies would be paying more for the towing of the vehicle.
These new rates were recalculated and decided by county staff after a public meeting with several Alachua towing companies to best accommodate for the fees required.
“It’s just a part of the process that we make sure that the tow operators have their voice heard,” County Chief of Staff Gina Peebles said.
Peebles met with tow truck companies and they talked about the fees that were being charged and how they didn’t match the fees needed for the current state of the economy. This means that towing a car that’s further out will require more gas money to get to because of the increase in gas prices that have not been considered.
“This is something that takes into consideration some of the current market rates,” Peebles said. “Some of our peers have not looked at our rates in quite some time, one is from 10 years ago”
These rates are based on what is most beneficial for these companies that are not being paid accordingly. The previous rates were calculated on data from a different period of time, not based on current gas prices along with the changing state of the economy.
“Just because it’s being paid by insurance, I think doesn’t necessarily mean that we should have the most expensive,” Commissioner Mary Alford said.
Alford has said she knows what the towing prices are like when they come to her property and she does not agree with such a large increase in towing rates.
According to the rates comparison that was provided in the agenda for the ordinance, the base rate pay for towing class A vehicles in Alachua is proposed to be $150 -$160.50 if the car is being removed from private property or trespassed areas.
The cost of towing changes depending on the size, class and weight of a vehicle. Situations in which a car needs to be towed will also vary in pricing depending on the work put in by the company or the instance of an unforeseen circumstance for example, having to flip a turned-over car.
The ordinance would apply to unincorporated businesses and places which would allow a person to be towed even if someone did not call to have the car removed. This means cars can be towed anywhere in Alachua County when necessary.
Now, towing companies are allowed to charge for a nonconsensual towing on property with a maximum charge taking place. The consent of the vehicle owner is not required.
Storage prices for these vehicles after being towed will also change depending on where the vehicle is being kept and the amount of time it will remain in their storage.
This also applies to cars that are being towed for being disabled or wrecked from the scene of an accident or in the case that the owner of the vehicle is unavailable, incapacitated or even if they leave the car in the hands of law enforcement, they are not excluded.
The board granted a motion to sign their staff recommendation, four in favor and Commissioner Alford in dissent, approving the ordinance. An increase in rates will be reflected when the signed ordinance is approved by the State.