Bobby Curran's plan to tax the towing companies
If a Baltimore City Councilman has his way, drivers won't be the only ones digging in their pockets when their cars are towed-- towing companies will have to pay too.
Councilman Robert W. Curran wants to impose a $30 surcharge on vehicles towed from private lots.
Under the bill, which Curran plans to introduce at Monday's council meeting, towing companies would be required to notify police before hooking up a car.
The $30 surcharge would be paid by the towing company, not by the unlucky vehicle-owner, Curran said. The companies would be required to pay the even if they hook up the car but do not tow it away.
"This is not intended to be passed on the to the consumer," said Curran, who closely follows towing issues. "The surcharge must be paid by the towing company. They can't jack up their rates."
Curran estimates that about 20,000 vehicles are towed from private lots each year. Tow companies can charge drivers as much as $300 to get their cars back.
Curran's surcharge would not apply to cars towed at the request of the police department by the city-approved "medallion" tow companies.
At a hearing earlier this week, council members requested a consultant review the medallion system, which awards lucrative contracts to a small circle of towing companies without a competitive bidding process.
Curran estimates that the surcharge could generate between $400,000 and $600,000 annually
He would like to see some of that money put back into two of his pet projects-- animals services and BARCS, the city's animal shelter. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake chopped nearly $400,000 from their combined budgets as she sought to close a $65 million gap in the city's spending plan.
Curran said several of his colleagues have offered their support for the measure.