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Council approves rate increase for local towing companies
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    Statesboro City Council voted at its last meeting to raise non-consensual towing rates from $85 to $110, citing concerns from towing companies over the drastically rising price of fuel.
    A non-agenda item brought up in other business, Councilman Will Britt motioned for the fee to be raised. He cited the appearance of Dash’s Towing owner, Ashlee Faircloth, as reason for the motion. Faircloth spoke at the first council meeting in May and asked the council to raise the non-consensual towing fee from $85 per tow. She said rising expenses are putting pressure on all of the local towing companies.
    “It is difficult to prosper and profit — the goal of any business — as costs continue to rise,“ said Faircloth. “With the rising price of fuel and cost of living, in addition to paying our regular expenses…even cost of insurance is beginning to rise.”
    During discussion, Councilman Joe Brannen moved to table the item in order to do more research, but the motion failed in a 2-3 vote.
    Before the measure passed 4-1, Mayor Bill Hatcher, only able to vote in the case of a tie, expressed his displeasure with what he considered poor judgment on part of the council.
    “We’re not hearing from the people with the vested interest (the students). I would encourage you to vote against it,” said Hatcher. “I’m unequivocally opposed. I want to be able to look the Georgia Southern students in the face.”
    The council voted in May 2007 to reduce the rate from the state maximum of $125 to $85. At the time there had been a number of complaints about improper non-consensual towing in the city and the council wanted to lower the rate to discourage the practice.
    “It was about the illegal practices — not necessarily the $125,” said Britt. “I think we’ve done that.”
    Police Chief Stan York said non-consensual towing is a very small percentage of the total business in Statesboro. Currently, only Eagle and Dash’s do non-consensual towing.
    “The ordinance was enacted to bring into compliance those (towing companies) gouging students,” said York.
    Before the vote, Councilman Travis Chance expressed his support for raising the rate.
    “I don’t think we’re doing a bad thing — just giving them (the towing companies) a break,” said Chance.
    Phil Boyum may be reached at 912-489-9454 or by email at pboyum@statesboroherald.com.