City increases wrecker towing fees following local towing association’s inquiry

Published 10:00 am Thursday, January 27, 2022

The LaGrange City Council voted to raise inner-city wrecker service towing fees at a larger increase than originally discussed. The vote followed a discussion with the newly formed LaGrange Towing Association, a sub-association of the Towing and Recovery Association of Georgia, at the council’s work session Tuesday. Terry Stanford, owner of Stanford Automotive & Repair Inc. who represented the LaGrange association, asked for the towing fee increases previously presented to council be further increased by $200 above the current state rate, leading council to vote on a pass a substitute ordinance to include the raised fees.

The previous city code states the towing fee for two-axel vehicles is $150 with a storage fee of $20 per day.

With Stanford’s suggestion, the $150 fee would increase to $200 as a base rate and then an additional $50 for any towing done outside a towing company’s 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours. Stanford additionally request a $35 increase to the storage fee, increasing it to $75.

“When the state goes through and votes again, this is probably what the rates are going to be [compared to] the last ten [or so] times they’ve raised them since 2003,” Stanford said.

The new towing fees passed by the council which includes the $200 base rate suggested by Stanford, are as follows:

  • Truck with no trailer, occupied – $650
  • Truck with no trailer, unoccupied – $650
  • Truck with empty trailer, occupied – $1,050
  • Truck with empty trailer, unoccupied – $1,050
  • Truck with loaded trailer, occupied – $1,050
  • Truck with loaded trailer, unoccupied – $1,050

The current state towing rates without the $200 base rate fee are as followed:

  • Truck with no trailer, occupied – $450
  • Truck with no trailer, unoccupied – $450
  • Truck with empty trailer, occupied – $850
  • Truck with empty trailer, unoccupied – $850
  • Truck with loaded trailer, occupied – $850
  • Truck with loaded trailer, unoccupied – $850

These increases in fees are needed, Stanford explained, due to a rise is overall operation costs.

“The state requires for towers to now have their own recovery equipment and remediation equipment to clean the scenes up,” he said. “There are a whole lot of costs that are added to us, and state law requires us that we have to clean a scene up. With the way the contract is now, it [isn’t] enough to cover your manpower. If you’re running at nighttime with that $150 rate, by the time you pay 30% of that call your guy will be working for less than minimum wage. We just can’t do that. We can’t keep good employees that way.”

At its last meeting, LaGrange Police Department Chief Lou Dekmar and Lt. Marshall McCoy first brought the proposal about wrecker fees to council during its Jan. 11 work session.

The LPD consulted the towing companies they contract for wrecks and created a report to outline why an increase in fees is needed. McCoy said the wrecker services are used when LPD must help citizens who do not have someone who can come get their car or for anyone needing a tow who do not have a preferred towing company. The LPD requested an additional $25 to the towing fee and $5 to the storage fee. The city’s former storage fee for a vehicle was $40. LPD requested the fee be increased to $45.

The city towing rates prior to the vote were as followed:

  • Truck with no trailer, occupied – $200
  • Truck with no trailer, unoccupied – $250
  • Truck with empty trailer, occupied – $300
  • Truck with empty trailer, unoccupied – $350
  • Truck with loaded trailer, occupied – $400
  • Truck with loaded trailer, unoccupied – $450