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Council approves towing ordinance

The Statesboro City Council narrowly approved an ordinance regulating involuntary towing inside the city limits, but minutes later effectively tabled the ordinance when they tabled the maximum fee able to be charged to tow and wrecker companies.
    The council voted 3-2 to approve the ordinance that not only sets maximum fees for involuntary towing and storage fees, but also requires documentation to be signed by the person requesting the tow in an effort to eliminate the practice of "cruising."
    Cruising, which essentially is having a tow or wrecker company patrol a parking lot looking for improperly parked cars, is illegal under state law. Councilman Will Britt went so far as to call the practice "predatory" and wanted to see something done to stop it.
    Prior to the vote, there was several minutes of discussion over the ability of the city to regulate towing, with Troy Edenfield of Knockout Towing saying the industry is regulated by the state Public Service Commission.
    City Manager George Wood and Police Chief Stan York disagreed, saying the city had the authority to pass an ordnance if they deemed it necessary.
    "Based on my understanding of the law, the city does have the right to put an ordinance in place," York said. "If they do not, then it is regulated by the state."
    One of the reasons the city has looked into enacting an ordinance is the numerous complaints they have received, primarily from Georgia Southern students, that say the $125 fee (the maximum allowed by state law) charged for an involuntary tow is excessive.
    Statesboro Mayor Bill  Hatcher shared that sentiment, saying $125 for a tow is a "rip off" and the city needed to step in to regulate the fee.
    The proposed fee maximum fee was $75, but Councilman Joe Brannen made a motion to table the setting of the fee so that the council could take an additional two weeks to examine the issue further.
    Because the fee was tabled, Wood said he believed the maximum $125 fee allowed by the state was still in effect.
    Also at Tuesday night's meeting, the council asked for a moment of silence in remembrance of Woody Chapman, who served as the city's personnel director. Chapman died last week.
    In other business, the council:
    - approved an ordinance on first reading to annex property on Cawana Road into city limits;
    - adopted a resolution recognizing Georgia Cities Week;
    - awarded a bid in the amount of $20,278.77 to Rozier Ford for a sanitation dumpster transport truck.

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