Wrecker service expresses concerns over plans to privatize Metro's impound lot

Monday, October 31, 2011 at 5:31pm

Following The City Paper’s report last week on a plan to outsource Metro’s vehicle impound lot, a privately owned Nashville wrecker service is beginning to raise questions about the proposal.

“If it hadn’t been for your paper, we never would have known about it,” said Robert Dunn, whose brother owns A.B. Collier Wrecker Service, which has operated in Nashville since 1929. “No wrecker service was notified.”

In a letter sent Monday to Metro Council members, representatives of A.B. Wrecker Service outlined four “concerns” in bullet-point form. Questions come as a proposal to turn operations of the city’s impound lot on Freightliner Drive to Moneka, Ill.-based United Road Towing heads before the council on the first of three votes Tuesday.

Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling has said Metro’s impound lot –– which stores all police-confiscated and impounded vehicles –– has accumulated a $2.9 million deficit over the last eight-plus years. He said privatizing would help “cut into” that figure. The plan would be to transfer the impound lot’s 20 civilian workers to existing positions within the civilian area of the Metro Police Department, which currently oversees the lot.

“It’s a fiscal decision,” Riebeling said of the move. “It’s an economic decision.”

If the council were to approve the move, Riebeling told The City Paper United Road Towing would deliver the city a $500,000 up-front payment. Moving forward, he said the company would pay Metro $100,000 each year for the life of the contract.

A.B. Collier Wrecker Service, which operates on Merritt Avenue, has asked the council to further analyze the following: how the city’s impound lot accumulated a $2.9 million deficit; the cost savings of transferring the impound lot’s employees; the selection of United Road Towing, which already operates the West Nashville Wrecker Service on Centennial Boulevard; and Metro’s bidding process to select United Road Towing.

In a brief interview with The City Paper, Dunn said he’s also worried all wrecked vehicles –– not just those confiscated by police –– would be directed to the privatized city impound lot if the plan were to pass. Currently, different wrecker services occupy various geographic zones for business.

“If they get it in, we’re afraid it’s going to force a lot of us that rely on our zone out of business,” Dunn said.

But Riebeling, in an email, said the city’s existing towing policy wouldn’t change with the plan.

5 Comments on this post:

By: Doveplayer on 11/1/11 at 4:54

I'd also like to know how a tow in and storage lot loses $2.9 million and nothing is done till now? Why not after the first $50,000? How does a tow in lot get a deficit of nearly three million dollars to start with? That's a very good question. I can't wait to hear the spin on this!

By: ccheeves on 11/9/11 at 2:20

The tow in lot claims to have 29 employees, if you average salaries at $350.00 weekly that is where the cost is, but how will Metro save money ? they are creating new positions for these employees, obviously they are not filling already established positions because we can't find any job openinings posted. So the cost is still there. And the tow in lot shouldn't be losing money. Memphis & Knoxville don't lose money and they charge less than Nashville. I think the real question needs to be where is the money going? let's audit Metro's Finance Department. When we tried to get a copy of the budget , we were unable to obtain this and it is susposed to be public record. Is someone getting paid under the table ? What is going on?

By: ccheeves on 11/10/11 at 9:31

In the agreement with URT & Metro , URT agrees to give Metro an intial payment od $500,00.00 - most likey not even enough to cover the1st year salaries of the 29 employees that jobs will be created for. Then URT gets a monthly payment from Metro of $31,250 and pays metro a monthly payment of $39,583.33 for a difference of $8,333.33 per month that will actually be Metro's payment, $99,999.96 per year to Metro. Ok we have covered those 29 salaries for the 1st year , but what happens the 2nd year? Metro gets $99,999.96 but pays over $500,000.00 to employees that were placed in latteral positions within Metro.We smell a RAT something isn't right with this.Where is the money going from the impound lot? Both Memphis & Knoxville charge less for tows and their impound lots are profitable for the city. Metro will also not let our attorney see the records for the impound lot& this is susposed to be public record. Why would any elected City Official not see that this is a bad move for the people that elected them. Mokena , IL had nothing to do with getting anyone into office! - or did they?

By: lloydrad on 3/24/12 at 6:00

I had an excellent meeting with the Mayor of Nanaimo this morning. He had pre-read all the information and he had several very observant remarks. His main concern was to confirm this was not a conservation issue and, when provided, he promised to both attend the meeting at Beban Auditorium on January 18th @ 7 P.M. and to support sports fisherman. I was very pleased with this meeting.

By: lloydrad on 3/27/12 at 5:30

If it were me I would make sure my signs were properly placed and included proper language, and make sure that any towing company I hired was duly licensed. Depending on the facts and frequency of problems, you may find that the towing company is willing to patrol rather than waiting for calls - some towing companies make a lot of money from towing and impound fees. Towing