After months of discussions and negotiations between Killeen city officials and the Bell County Towing Association, the Killeen City Council on Tuesday unanimously agreed to increase the city’s towing fees for residents who have their vehicles towed by police.
The ordinance follows negotiations with the towing association that began in August when more than a dozen local towing companies requested the city increase its rates, which hasn’t been done in a decade.
The ordinance, which will take effect Jan. 1, increases the basic tow fee to $150, adds a $50 flat-bed fee, a $20 waiting fee charged in 15-minute increments after a tow truck has been idle on scene for a half-hour, a $95 winching fee charged in 30-minute increments and a $3 per mile fee for tows outside the city limits.
The current rate is a flat $90 fee for arrest-related tows and $110 for accidents. The fees are paid by the vehicle owner or their insurance company, not the city.
Members of the towing community said an increase in fees was needed to cover costs including paying for an increasing number of operational licenses from the state and federal government, training costs, drug testing and other expenses. They also said fuel costs have gone up over the past 10 years.
Although the ordinance granted the towing association most of its requests, the council shot down its request for a 10 percent fuel surcharge on all tows and altered its $95 per hour wait time fee charge in 30-minute increments. After negotiations, the association also eliminated its requested $95 rollover fee to right a flipped vehicle.
In previous meetings, the council asked that city staff ensure the fee increases were justifiable by checking with insurance companies to make sure they would pay those fees.
Traci Briggs, deputy city attorney, said she talked to representatives of three different insurance companies who all said they pay “anything that is reasonable,” but Briggs said none could provide a definite number for what is reasonable to charge.
She said the insurance providers and representatives from the towing companies said it’s “extremely rare” for an insurance company to deny tow charges.