Towing service operators arguing for a continued cap on the number of companies licensed to haul away cars for Naperville police changed the minds of city councilmen, who originally were considering doing away with the limit.
Instead, councilmen this week increased the number of possible licenses from 11 to 13 and doubled the duration of the licensing period from one to two years.
Under the updated police towing ordinance, a maximum of 13 companies can receive licenses to tow vehicles after accidents, parking violations or arrests for certain drug cases.
At the suggestion of Councilman Doug Krause, if any company's license is revoked for failing to meet service standards or other provisions or the ordinance, the number of available licenses immediately will decrease by one. The automatic reduction will stop when 10 licenses are available.
Tow truck drivers and company owners who came to city council meetings and argued against allowing an unlimited number of licenses convinced the council to unanimously approve an updated ordinance that retains a cap, with Councilman Grant Wehrli abstaining because one of his relatives was representing some of the towing companies.
Councilman Paul Hinterlong said speakers like the six at Tuesday's council meeting made him realize large out-of-town companies would benefit it the limit on towing licenses was removed -- at the expense of local shops. Licensed companies receive calls on a rotation when police need a vehicle towed, so the more licenses given, the less often each company's name is called.
"What I don't want to do here is run out our own city businesses," Hinterlong said. "That's what I think would happen here (without a cap) -- the smaller guys would suffer to a point where they'd have to lay off employees and maybe close their doors."
The policy update leaves unchanged regulations that require companies to have a vehicle storage yard within a mile and a half of city limits, an operator on duty 24 hours a day and at least two tow trucks and drivers available at all times. Fees that can be charged for towing and storing vehicles also are set in the ordinance and will be updated every two years based on the consumer price index.
Companies seeking a police towing license can apply between Sept. 15 and Sept. 30.