Mt. Laurel Council considers changes to ordinance governing towing services contracted by township

Officials have requested council increase the number of designated towing services for vehicles towed through requests from the township.

Mt. Laurel Council is considering updates to the ordinance governing the towing services the township utilizes.

Under the current ordinance, towing services can pay a fee to the municipality and join a list of 10 light-duty and heavy-duty vehicle-towing services designated by the township per year.

Throughout the year, police dispatch calls to those services on a rotating basis per incident, depending on the tow requested, such as a motor vehicle accident, abandoned vehicle or vehicle left behind after a DUI arrest.

In the event a towing service is unavailable, the next towing service on the rotation list is called.

According to acting township manager Meredith Tomczyk, the police department has requested the township increase the number of designated towing services to 15 so additional assistance is available if needed.

“We wouldn’t mind having the additional help in case there are large accidents,” Tomczyk said as she brought the issue forward for discussion at last week’s council meeting.

Tomczyk also asked council to consider following other townships in the state by adding an administrative fee to be paid by the designated towing companies to the township in each instance where they tow a vehicle.

With a suggested fee of $35, Tomczyk said the towing companies could then add that fee into the bill when motorists submit a claim for the towing service to their insurance company.

Tomczyk said the fee would help the township with its costs for handling work related to towed cars, such as tracking the cars, auctioning cars and handling phone calls from individuals asking about towed cars.

Tomczyk said the township would tell designated towing companies they could reclaim the fee when billing motorists’ insurance companies.

During the meeting, council also discussed if the township could charge more than $35 if a vehicle was towed for a more significant criminal offense, such as a DUI versus an abandoned vehicle.

However, township solicitor Tyler Prime noted in such a scenario, no offense would have yet been adjudicated through the court system, so tying possible criminal activity to an administrative fee would most likely fall out of the scope of the towing ordinance.

Tomczyk said she would have Prime review any of the recommend changes to the township’s towing ordinance and have an updated ordinance ready for first reading in the near future.