Commissioners hear from tow truck companies on proposed tow truck rotation ordinance

Tow truck companies gathering at Commissioners Court Workshop.

Montgomery County Commissioners held a two-hour workshop the evening of Jan.9 to receive comments from tow truck companies on the proposed ordinance, regulating incident management towing rotation and storage services.

Amy Milstead, who is with Milstead Towing and is the Chair of the Texas Department of License and Regulations Towing and Storage Advisory Board, is in favor of the towing rotation.

Amy Milstead with Milstead Automotive speaking to Commissioners Court.

“We know that this project works all over the United States. We have visited counties and districts all over and this project works, said Milstead. “It is a proven fact that it does help with the flow of traffic, it does help with the accidents and it does help protect the tow truck drivers in the secondary accidents that happen out there. “We do believe that storage lots need to be divided. “We don’t necessarily believe everybody needs to go out and buy a piece of property; we believe that they can share property, but they need to have a fence and separate TD alarm numbers. Therefore, everyone is accountable for their own storage and towing. “We believe that if you’re going to be in the storage and towing business, then you need to man up and you need to be in the towing and storage business, you need to pay your taxes and do all of that.”

Clint Bass with Bass Towing and Recovery in Magnolia is against the rotation.

“It’s going to put us out of business. It’s feasible for the larger companies, said Bass. The people who are for it are the larger companies that have been in business for a long time. “I’ve been in business for seven years; that’s not enough time to grow to the point that they’re at right now. As of today, if you put a five-year company in a position where he has to buy a storage lot, he can’t do it.” I’ve been looking for a storage lot since this came up last time; you’re talking $2,000 for rent on a piece of dirt, $20,000 for a fence. “I mean where does that get me, broke. I’ve got $200,000 worth of tow trucks that I’m going to have to sell because of this.”

County Judge Mark Keough said he appreciates all the feedback the Court received from the tow truck companies.

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough at the tow truck ordinance workshop.

“At the end of the day, we represent the people and these are the people. We don’t want to run anybody out of business, but we also represent the people who have the potential of getting hurt because of safety issues and rushing to a scene,” said Keough.

“Representative Will Metcalf originally did this bill (House Bill 2213) in the House of Representatives and it was passed. We don’t have to do it.”

Judge Keough said the things that are of concern to him are not allowing someone to share a location.

“I think good people doing business with good people is what contributes to what the positive comments were about allowing storage lots to be shared. “I think another issue, just in terms of the rotation are the penalties; how do you even keep track of the penalties. “It’s like the bureaucracy associated with this process of penalties, and what should drive this is if they don’t show up, then they don’t make any money.”

Keough said the other element to this is it’s for non-consent towing.

“This doesn’t have anything to do with consent tow, where someone calls and asks. We allow the people, even in a non-consent tow, to have the final decision. It can be overruled by the officer on the scene, but why would he do that, unless there was a drug or alcohol issue, or something like that.” It says that the individual citizen who owns the vehicle is able to make the decision and/or the officer on the scene.”

Keough said zones are a little bit of an issue.

There’s a lot of zones that we’ve put people into. If you’re going to do the zone and you’re going to have rotation, you do have to have some areas that we require people to go to.”

Keough said now some “tweaking” of the ordinance needs to happen, and eventually it will get back to the Court.

“This is an attorney deal that we may put into executive session, but I doubt it. I think it’s going to come back to the court. It will be amended. “We’ll have plenty of time to look at it, then we’ll come in and discuss it, and if we want to modify it that day in here we can, and vote one way or another.”

Keough said a vote could happen at the end of February.

Here is House Bill 2213 from Representative Will Metcalf, that was originally passed in 2015:

Tow Rotation List

Montgomery County is one of the fastest growing areas of the state. Along with this growth comes increased traffic. There are currently over 200 registered tow trucks within the county, and it is not uncommon for 20 or more to arrive on the scene of an accident. This mass of tow trucks increases the likelihood of secondary accidents and proves a danger to public safety. This will allow the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department to maintain a tow rotation list if they so choose. This will ensure that when there is a car accident, there will not be an influx of tow trucks on the side of the road.

To look at the proposed ordinance, click on the link below:

Consider and approve the proposed Ordinance Regulating Incident Management Towing Rotation and Storage Services. Click to View

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