Kyle considers an update to wrecker ordinance

By Anna Herod

An update to the city’s existing wrecker ordinance could be made May 3. 

Along with standard updates with state law, the ordinance, which was read at the last city council meeting, will address concerns over local preference, quicker collision clean up on the highway and safety. 

Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett said the police department agrees that while the original ordinance has worked, it could be improved. 

“As it has been passed and time goes along we find room for improvement,” Barnett said. 

Under the current ordinance, local preference is given to tow companies when it comes to cars and trucks. However, this same preference is not given for heavy wreckers. 

Council member Damon Fogley said the issue is large vehicles, such as 18 wheelers, are “being towed outside of the city limits into Austin or San Marcos,” or other cities. He said those citizens are incurring increased costs as their vehicles are towed outside city limits. 

“So what I would like to have is a local preference here within the city limits for our heavy wreckers. For those companies that are in compliance with the planning and zoning regulations for a V.S.F. (vehicle storage facility),” Fogley said. 

The proposed ordinance would put a rotational list in place for companies the police call when there is a wreck along I-35. Fogley said the wrecker ordinance, as it is written now, allows one wrecker company to tow multiple cars involved in one crash. 

Fogley said this is a concern that has been brought up by many people. 

“What’s happening is there is a delayed response because that same company is hooking up and they’re towing to the V.S.F. and there’s a delay in getting all three vehicles off of the scene of collision,” Fogley said. “So it’s an inconvenience for those travelers that are on I-35 with the increased congestion on I-35 until the accident scene gets cleared. Also it’s harder for some of our police officers who are going out doing the duties they have to do in our city.”

If the new ordinance is passed, towing company partnerships with the city may become safer. 

Fogley proposed in the ordinance that the city discontinue business with any wrecker company that has employees, managers or owners who have convictions directly related to the towing industry. 

“We need to have a more thorough vetting process for owner and operators and managers of the towing companies that operate within city limits and that do business within the city,” Fogley said. “We’ll make sure that we vet them beyond what the state does in order to protect our citizens and make sure that we have the best qualified towing companies working with the city. Those are the three main concerns that I have.”

Before the next council meeting, Barnett said he would invite all of the local towing companies to have a meeting so their perspectives and desires for the ordinance can be shared. 

What is gathered from the meeting will be taken into consideration, and the ordinance will come before the council once again at the next meeting. 

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