Salisbury Mulls New Towing Company Structure

SALISBURY — Hoping to clean-up a crowded list, the Salisbury City Council is considering sending out a Request for Proposal (RFP) for towing companies that would re-structure the current system from 23 vendors to three. Comments made by Mayor Jim Ireton, however, implied that city administration will leave it untouched.

Towing has been on the council’s radar for at least two years. Last spring, after months of public hearings and work sessions, the council hammered out new guidelines for how private towing companies could respond to calls for accident, abandoned or otherwise police generated tows. The new RPF, which would shrink the cumbersome vendor list, is an attempt to further clean-up the process, according to Police Chief Barbara Duncan.

“This is going to streamline a lot of our processes and get us much, much closer to where we want to be,” she said.

It should be noted that reducing the list to three vendors wouldn’t exclude all of the other towing companies in Salisbury. Instead, it would re-formulate the system to a contractor and sub-contractor relationship where the three main vendors would interact with the city and manage other companies in each of their groups.

Support amongst the council for the RFP was split. Councilmember Laura Mitchell called the idea an “overreach” on part of the council into administrative matters and stated that she would like to see natural attrition cull the list instead of directly interfering.

Mitchell also said the new RFP, she said, is too much too soon.
“Do we tear the whole car apart again?” she asked.
Instead, Mitchell suggested locking the list at the current 23 vendors.
“Give it a year or so to see if that list doesn’t whittle down some,” she said.

However, others on the council viewed the RFP as a useful management tool, though they admitted it may need polishing.

“I think we can all agree that this is a work in progress,” said Council President Terry Cohen.

Councilmember Tim Spies agreed, calling the RFP “a developing process.”

But Mitchell remained steadfast in her opposition, saying, “I hope the mayor kills [the RFP].”

That’s not an unlikely possibility, according to Ireton.

“This process has been the laughing stock of the city,” he said of the lengthy police towing discussion.

Ireton called the progression “embarrassing” and admitted that he was “inclined to pull all of this off of the table.”