Douglas County officials say they are pleased with a new program enacted last year that regulates how much towing companies can charge for certain kinds of tows, and they plan to renew it for another year with only minor changes.
Last year, responding to complaints by residents about overcharging by some companies, the county enacted a policy requiring companies on the "nonpreferred list" to sign a contract in which they agreed to charge set prices.
That list is used in cases such as accidents when the owner of a vehicle has no preference about which towing company to call, so the county emergency dispatch center chooses one from the rotating list.
That policy went into effect Nov. 1, 2012, and county commissioners agreed at that time to review the contract after one year.
After meeting with the towing companies on Wednesday, Commissioner Jim Flory and county administrator Craig Weinaug said all the parties seemed pleased with how the program had worked and agreed to renew it for another year with only minor changes.
Flory said the companies were asking for no change in the base price of $150 for simple tows, with adjustments for more complicated jobs. But they asked to raise the daily storage fee to $35, a $5 increase.
He said the companies also agreed to clarify language on mileage fees so that the $3-per-mile rate applies to the round trip mileage that the tow truck incurs from the place of business to the point of the tow and return.
Commissioners agreed on Wednesday to direct Weinaug's office to draft a new contract reflecting those changes for commissioners to approve at a later date.
In other business, the commission:
• Held a public hearing and approved the sale of the county's former ambulance building at 225 Maine St. to Lawrence Memorial Hospital for $325,000.
• Held a public hearing and authorized a temporary business use permit for Westar Energy to erect vehicle and equipment storage facilities to be used as the company relocates power lines along the new east leg of the South Lawrence Trafficway.
• Approved the purchase a used forklift for $16,500 for the Public Works Department.
• Approved a home rule resolution codifying the Douglas County Heritage Conservation Plan into the Douglas County Code.
• Approved a notice to the Grant Township Board for a cereal malt beverage license for Flamingo Enterprises.
• Approved a notice to the Clinton Township Board for a cereal malt beverage license for The Clinton Store.
• Approved a Class "B" Club Occupational license for Little Reno, Inc., doing business as Paradise Saloon.
• Approved a Class "B" Club Occupational license for Bird of Lawrence.
• Approved a resolution making the Food Policy Council a joint city-county body with the city of Lawrence.
• Approved a contract with Dale Nimz to complete a survey of historic, natural and cultural resources in Wakarusa Township.
• And approved the purchase of a used Walker Tank Trailer for the Public Works Department.