Albany wrecker service companies are worried about a proposed fee the city may impose on them soon. City leaders want to charge $20 each time the 911 center dispatches a tow company.
City leaders say they're providing a free service to wrecker companies they don't provide to other businesses, but wrecker service owners say this fee is just a tax hike in disguise.
Quality Wrecker Service manager Andy Lawton wants to know why city leaders didn't consult wrecker companies before presenting a proposal to charge them $20 for each call for service from Albany 911.
"Our first word that we learned about it was last week in your news report. We would just like to hear from the city to find out exactly how it is going to work," Lawton said.
When a car breaks down or crashes and needs to be towed, the driver is asked by a first responder if he wants a certain wrecker company called. If the driver has no preference, 911 calls one of nine wrecker services on a rotation basis.
The 911 center made nearly 4,000 calls last year. Under this proposal, that would bring in nearly $80,000 to the city.
Albany 911 Center Deputy Director Jim Vaught said "So we're not actually looking here to make a profit. We're just actually trying to break even on the cost that we are providing this service without any kind of reimbursement."
911 keeps records to prove they follow the rotation and under the proposal would check the wrecker companies' equipment to make sure they can provide the needed service.
Vaught said "We were just looking for a way to make a level playing field."
Quality charges around $75 for a car tow, and Lawton says an additional $20 could push the cost past some customers. Lawton said "At this time in the market, no. I don't see that this business can stand a $20 fee. And to us we are going to have to manage it as well."
Lawton says the extra paperwork will also cost wrecker companies more. Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the proposal at May 27th's meeting.
If commissioners pass the proposal, you should be able to avoid it by calling for a wrecker yourself instead of depending on 911 dispatchers to do it for you.