New Braunfels Council Approves Sole Source Towing Company

Despite protests and warnings from towing company owners, New Braunfels City Council on Monday approved a new way for the city police department to procure towing services for the 1,600 tows it orders every year.

Police Chief Tom Wibert said the current system, in which 17 different towing companies are each used for three weeks during the year, makes it difficult for the police department to monitor whether the companies are operating legally.

Wibert said that while most towing companies on the list are “very good partners,” one company overcharged a police department customer by $183 for a 6-minute tow and is now under criminal investigation.

Another one or two are also operating illegally and “ripping off people in the name of the police department,” Wibert said. “We can’t have that.”

The chief suggested a new procedure under which a single company would be chosen by competitive bid as the police department’s primary towing-service provider and a second company would be picked as a backup for “overflow” needs.

Two New Braunfels towing company owners, Samuel Campos of Citywide Towing and Jeremy Hernandez of JJ’s Towing, told council they didn’t like the idea of one towing company being named the police department’s primary provider.

Campos said the rotation should be kept in place, with the offending companies being removed from the list.

Hernandez said he didn’t think a single company could handle the job.

Manuel Guajardo of MG’s Towing and Storage, who said he sued the city — and won — over towing laws a dozen years ago, cautioned the council to be careful that it didn’t wind up in court once again.

Assistant City Attorney Frank Onion advised council that legal precedent at both the federal and state levels support municipalities naming a sole-provider for police-ordered tows.

The chief said the police department orders wreckers for such things as clearing roadways after accidents, impounding vehicles and for seizing vehicles for evidence.Onion said private citizens would still have the option of choosing their towing-service provider, unless officers at the scene determine it would be faster to clear an accident, for instance, by using the police department’s designated provider. 
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