Austin Tow Company Owners Worried About New APD Tow Contract

City of Austin officials had a meeting with certain tow companies about the Bid for Towing Services Contract for the Austin Police Department going to City Council in September.   The meeting room at RBJ was quite full despite the fact 20+ tow companies were never notified.

Bobby New, the current contractor was shaking his head as he listened to city staff  talking about the requirements and the possibility his empire could be dealt a serious blow. That $48K weekly salary he brags about to people thanks to the citizens of Austin and the current APD Tow Contract could be coming to an end soon.

The owner of Reliant Towing asked a lot of questions as if his company has a chance with limited trucks, unless Dan Messina is going to finance it, as he has done with Park Right Solutions LLC.

Akram Nasserdine with Austin Express & Tow Times voiced concern over the 20 minute response times, down from 30 minutes. Akram strongly suggested city staff research the problems with the Houston Police Department’s Safe & Clear Program.

Kathy Kokel with Lone Star asked city staff why is APD going to have to call California for a tow truck to respond to a collision, impound or abandoned vehicle in Austin. Of course Harlan Scales with APD nor City Staff didn’t want to go into detail, claiming the meeting was over due time.

Rick Chron with United Road Towing based in Dallas was in attendance, Chron manages three towing companies and is the current Plano & Allen Police Departments tow contractor.

But all the major players of the local tow companies were there and were quite surprised to see me sitting at the table with all of them.

After the meeting, while waiting for the elevator, I had a good conversation with Harlan Scales and the contract buyer, specifically about the “revenue generator” for the upcoming contract vs the current contract, that allows Bobby New to be paid a $48K weekly salary.

I told all three, when Toby Futrell was the City Manager, the revenue generator is based on the percentage of “final disposition of a vehicle. Being such the El Camino, APD’s vehicle abatement officer tagged parked on the street sold at auction for $19K, under the current contract, the COA received less $200, while Southside pocketed the rest.  Two contracts ago under Futrell, the COA would have received $5130. Surprisingly the finance and police department employees who made the change to the revenue generator to benefit Southside are no longer employed at the COA.

My main two concerns is the 20 minute response time that is sure to put the public risk due to tow truck drivers speeding to make an accident scene and revenue the City of Austin receives.

I expect most of the tow companies to send campaign contributions to city council members to buy their influence for a vote.

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