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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Gainesville tow-truck companies are frustrated, but not with angry drivers.

The Gainesville City Commission voted 4-3 Thursday to send a proposed price hike for roam towing rates back to the Public Safety Committee. The same committee recommended earlier this year that the commission pass the measure.

The measure would change the penalty for parking in an unauthorized spot from $76 to $84. The city sets towing fees for companies that tow illegally parked cars, and this measure would only affect rates for cars parked in unauthorized spaces.

Some towing companies were expecting a vote on the measure Thursday.

“I think it’s bulls--t,” said Stan Forron, owner of Ultimate Towing, which spearheaded the effort to increase penalties.

The commission decided to send the proposal back to the committee because the city doesn’t have a structured system for increasing the towing rates.

“We are completely going over the entire tow ordinance and making updates and changes,” City Commissioner Lauren Poe said. “My hope is that we are able to find a sound methodology for why the towing rates are wha they are.”

Forron, who has been in the towing business for 26 years, said rising fuel costs threaten his businesses’ future and said the legislative delay doesn’t help his situation.

“We can’t afford to upgrade equipment,” he said. “I cut my drivers’ pay. We don’t buy new trucks. We cut out health insurance. We cut out all the driver benefits.”

Forron warned that if the commission doesn’t make a decision about raising the rate, he could be forced to crack down on illegal parking to make ends meet.

“What’s going to happen is towing companies are going to get more predatory. We’re going to tow more questionable cars,” Forron said. “So park just a little bit on the grass or just a little bit over that white line, and we’re towing that car now.”

Contact Shelby Webb at swebb@alligator.org.

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