The members also discussed mandating annual taxicab safety inspections.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- City council's safety committee is recommending the city seek proposals from towing companies interested in contracting with the city to provide towing when it is ordered by the police department.
Towing companies have complained that fees set forth in a city ordinance of $30 for towing and $5 a day for storage are too low, said Councilman John R. Swierz, D-7th, committee chairman. The fees are paid by owners of cars towed by police order.
Owners of towed cars have complained they are being asked to pay more than the city mandated amount and they have found items missing from their cars when they recover them from the impoundment lots, Swierz said.
Swierz said $10 of the $30 is to be paid by the towing companies to the city as an administrative fee, and towing companies aren't current in paying those fees to the city.
Other cities: A comparison of charges for police tows provided by the city police department shows Youngstown's ordinance sets by far the lowest towing charge among seven Ohio comparison communities. Youngstown's storage charge is equal to that of Canton and Girard, but all the other comparison communities charge more for storage.
"When we're talking about a government action, where the police lawfully tow a car, then we should have some say on how much it costs," said police Chief Richard Lewis.
Cab considerations: Council's safety committee also voted to have Lewis appoint a committee to review the city's taxicab regulations and, possibly, make recommendations for changes. Swierz complained some taxis operating in the city appear dirty and rusty and said the city doesn't inspect taxis. Swierz said he'd support annual safety inspections of cabs by the city.
"There could be a health issue involved in this as well as a safety issue," said Councilman Artis Gillam Sr., D-1st.
"They should have some type of testing, some type of requirement to have a safety sticker once a year," said Councilman Richard Atkinson, R-3rd.
"Some of them are just outright shabby," Lewis said.
The safety committee also heard Fire Chief John O'Neill say the city is seeking to enter into a performance-oriented contract with one or more ambulance companies to ensure quality service and prompt response to 911 calls. The city has no such contract, but the 911 center calls Pellin and Rural Metro on alternating days. Both companies have submitted proposals for contracts.
The safety committee also sent penalty increases for repeat dog control law violators to the law department for further review. The increases were proposed by City Prosecutor Dionne Almasy.