(WBIR-Knoxville) It could soon cost drivers more money to get their cars back, if towed by the city of Knoxville. Towing companies that work with the city are requesting a 25% rate increase to keep up with rising costs.
Earlier this week, Knoxville City Council approved a first reading to an ordinance amendment that includes the increase. The change would not affect private towing.
When the city needs a vehicle removed, whether it be an accident or an arrest, the city calls from a wrecker rotation list that involves eight companies.
Jim's Garage and Wrecker Service in West Knoxville is on the list.
"Well the big thing is we haven't had a raise in so long that we're due for it," said James Branch Jr., owner of Jim's Garage and Wrecker Service.
Privately, towing companies set their own rates. But through the city, there are fixed amounts that range from $40 to more than $400 depending on the case.
According to City of Knoxville Fleet Director Keith Shields, those rates have not changed in about seven years.
"In the evaluation I did with the other cities close by, Nashville, Lexington, Chattanooga, the rates that the wrecker companies in Knoxville had were below the rates charged in the other cities in 2011," Shields said.
The towing companies said expenses have risen 25% since 2009. They were able to provide data to city council that proved those increases.
"The fuel is the major thing. Cost of everything went up-- the tires, maintenance on the trucks, everything's went up," Branch said.
It costs $65 to tow a Class A vehicle not involved in a collision. With the increase, it would cost $81.25. There is also a $20 administrative fee at the City of Knoxville impound lot.
"The wrecker companies, it's a choice for them to be in this rotation," Knoxville Vice Mayor Nick Pavlis said.
Pavlis proposed a 15% increase over a three-year period. City council turned it down.
"This is a small portion of their business. It's their choice to be in it. And I just felt like 15% over a three-year period is more palatable to the citizens of the City of Knoxville," Pavlis said.
City council will approve or deny the rate increase during a second reading on February 4.