City Council will review a towing ordinance proposed by city police at its Thursday meeting.
The ordinance is to provide for a convenient and regulated towing system for the timely removal of vehicles damaged, abandoned, immobilized, illegally parked, seized or disabled on public or private roadways within the city, according to city police Chief Gregory Foresman.
It will be the first reading of the ordinance that was reviewed Tuesday by public safety and finance committees.
Mayor Gabriel J. Campana said the ordinance will allow the city police to enter into contracts with towing companies, and it could bring revenue that could be used for other purposes in city government.
Police records indicate 700 to 1,000 incidents are responded to annually by police that require a towing service. The police want to solicit bids to recommend to council for review and approval. The contracts would be for not more than one year with one or more reputable private towing and impoundment contractors.
Today, if someone gets into a vehicle crash, the nearest towing service or the service requested by the driver is used. That doesn't change with the ordinance, according to Foresman. What will be different with the ordinance is the city gets a percentage of the towing and storage fee, he said.
Foresman cited the following example: "If a company assesses a driver $500, and the agreement is for 10 percent with that towing service, that would be $50 going to police miscellaneous account," he said. "The money can be used by the city in whatever way it sees fit."
Foresman said he views the ordinance as less of a revenue-producing venture and more of a way to compensate for officers' time at crashes and incidents involving towing services.
If an officer is at a scene for 30 to 45 minutes, that is his or her time that can be used in other areas of the city, Foresman said.
It also ensures the accident is cleared quickly and nobody else is injured or has a vehicle damaged by debris at the scene, he added.
Another issue on council's plate is review of the second phase of the Pathway to Health project that will use a $750,000 federal transportation grant. The work involves improvements at intersections along Walnut Street south to Little League Boulevard, according to John Grado, city engineer and economic and community development director. "That is all the grant will pay for."
The pathway is a series of intersection improvements and widening of roads connecting Williamsport Regional Medical Center to Interstate 180. It primarily is meant to get the ambulances into and out of the city in a more effective manner and improve the overall look in the neighborhoods.