Local towing companies are asking the city of Killeen to increase the fees charged to residents who have their vehicles towed by police.
Thirteen local companies that provide incident management towing services for the city brought a request before the Killeen City Council at a workshop earlier this month.
“The rates have not been increased since 2003,” said Rose Goode, an employee of Goode Towing and representative for the West Bell County Towing Association. “It’s been a very long time.”
Currently, Goode Towing and 12 other companies are put on rotation, and called by the police department to tow vehicles after an arrest or accident. The fees are charged to the vehicle owner or their insurance companies. According to Goode, incident management tows for the city made up nearly 40 percent of the company’s business.
In Killeen, the rate is $90 for arrest-related tows and $110 for accidents. Goode said the number was low, and did not take into consideration the growing costs of running a towing business.
“It’s been 10 years, and a lot of those costs have gone up,” she said. “It’s killing us.”
Those costs include paying for an increasing number of operating licenses from the state and federal government.
Companies have to be licensed to operate in Texas, including licenses to drive and store vehicles, licenses for drivers and office workers in addition to costs for training, drug testing and other business-related expenses.
The cost of fuel also increased over the last 10 years. According to data provided to the Herald, Goode Towing saw a 197 percent increase in fuel costs between 2003 and 2012. In 2012, the company recorded just over $171,000 in annual fuel costs, compared to $71,500 in 2003.
“All those expenses add up,” Goode said. “With all of those things combined, we felt it was time to go to the city and ask them to raise the rate.”
Goode and the other members of the association are asking the city to increase the rate to between $140 and $150, with an additional $50 fee if the companies have to use a flat-bed truck.
When Goode brought her request to the council at its Aug. 13 workshop, Mayor Dan Corbin said more information was required, but did not flat-out oppose the idea.
“Since 2003 (costs) have gone up, and some type of rate increase is due,” Corbin said.
Councilman Jonathan Okray was skeptical of the request, and characterized the rising expenses as part of business ownership.
“That’s a business expense,” Okray said.
Goode said she met with representatives from the police department and the city Aug. 29 to discuss the matter further. She characterized the meeting as productive, and hoped to see something come before the council soon.
“City staff is now researching the information provided by West Bell County Towing Association,” said Hilary Shine, the city’s spokeswoman. “Staff will compile their findings for a future discussion with city council.”