Towing contract grinds gears

Some local providers question contract that sets rates for working with town

— Some operators argue the fee is unfair and possibly illegal.

Peter Geist, owner of Geist Brothers Towing in Glenmont, said a meeting was held by the police department for all of the tow operators to discuss the contract before it was signed. He said he felt uncomfortable with the fees and some of the contract’s stipulations, but said if he didn’t sign the contract he would be losing out on business.

“Most of us are already taxpayers within the town,” he said. “It’s like being taxed twice and I don’t see how it’s fair.”

Geist said he wished other operators who also seemed leery of the contract had also spoken up, but since most didn’t he figured he would sign the contract and wait until next year.

Helligrass said the department and town are not out to make money on the deal. Helligrass said the department expects the fees to bring in about $12,000 annually, which he feels is insignificant if you look at the department’s entire budget for the year. However tow calls by police are down, and Helligrass said the department is expected to make about half that.

“Not to sound mean, but I don’t really give their complaints much credence because we’re giving them exclusive rights to work with the town,” Helligrass said. “They’re making money off of this deal.”

The contract also stipulates that towing operators can charge vehicle owners a fee of $45 a day for storage of any cars taken in.

Olin Bleau, owner of Bleau’s Towing Service, said he is angered about the new fee, but also because of other requirements in the contract that set operating standards. He received a notice from the town’s Planning Department that said he could no longer store cars on his property, for example.

“I put up the fence and they still won’t let me store the cars there,” Bleau said.

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