New Salisbury Towing Ordinance Nearly Complete

SALISBURY — After two years of work, it looks like the Salisbury City Council nearly has a citywide police towing ordinance ready to hit the streets.

During a work session Monday, the council put some finishing touches on the document, adding language protecting vehicle owners from having to pay a fee if their car is parked near the site of an emergency and needs to be towed through no fault of their own. In such a scenario, the city, or whatever public agency responded to the emergency, would pay towers an $80 fee for moving vehicles.

The emergency towing fee joins a list including a $160 for a standard tow, $65 for a service call, $135 for an impounded vehicle, $50 per day for storage, $65 per hour for any time a tower has to wait for the owner of a vehicle after an initial 15 minutes and $110 for a winching tow.

“The ordinance is substantially the same as what came out of the work group,” said Councilwoman Laura Mitchell.

The referenced work group was born last summer after a previous towing ordinance produced by the council neared publication, only to have to be scraped due to possible legal issues with the language. The group consisted of members of the towing industry, local government and private citizens who met in roundtable discussions in an effort to come up with fees, rules and restrictions that would be fair to all involved.

Mitchell, who was a member of the advisory board, said the current ordinance proves that the group was, “pretty much on the mark” with the language they drafted. She added that she is glad the ordinance seems to finally be moving forward, calling the process leading to publication “languishing.” The document hasn’t cleared all of the hurdles yet, however.

To ensure no legal conflicts stall the ordinance like its predecessor, the document has been forwarded to City Attorney Paul Wilbur for review. It was suggested Monday that it might be a better idea for the city to engage the services of attorneys who specialize in transportation, but the council eventually ruled to defer to Wilbur’s opinion on whether he’s qualified to handle reviewing it.

“Ultimately, we decided to leave that call to Mr. Wilbur,” said Mitchell.

She noted that Wilbur “is already up to speed” on the ordinance and if he’s able to do the review in-house, the document may be ready to be read into public record Dec. 12, and could be official by the beginning of next year.