[HISTORY: Adopted by the Municipal Council of the Municipality of Norristown as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 2-1-2005 by Ord. No. 05-04]
It is the purpose and objective of this article to enable the Council of the Municipality of Norristown to provide for the removal of damaged, disabled, abandoned vehicles or snowbound vehicles of all types that have been deemed a hazard to the motoring public within the Municipality and provide a safe storage of the vehicles until their disposition.
Towing contract. The Council of the Municipality of Norristown is hereby authorized to enter into agreements with persons and entities (hereinafter individually called "contractor") engaged in the business of removing vehicles of all types that are damaged, disabled or snowbound, and providing a safe storage of such vehicles until their disposition ("towing contract").
Towing fee schedule. The Council of the Municipality of Norristown shall adopt a fee schedule for the removing of vehicles of all types that are damaged, disabled, abandoned, or snowbound, and providing a safe storage of such vehicles until their disposition from time to time, by resolution ("towing fee schedule"). The towing fee schedule may be reviewed annually by the Municipality and may be changed at its discretion.
The contractor shall comply with the following specifications:
The contractor shall provide properly licensed and operating equipment capable of handling any and all types of vehicles which require towing services ("towing vehicles"). A list of such towing vehicles shall be submitted to the Police Department.
Vehicles must be able to be moved by the contractor regardless of their state of damage.
The towing vehicles shall be maintained in good operating condition or a suitable replacement made so that the listed vehicles will be available for the purposes of and the duration of the towing contract.
In addition to the removal of the vehicles, the contractor shall clean up at the scene of any accident, removing hazardous substances, broken glass, metal and other debris as required by the officer of the Police Department in charge of the accident scene. Proper equipment for such cleanups, including oil drying chemicals, brooms and shovels, shall be carried on all of the contractor's responding towing vehicles.
The contractor shall provide services as needed, on a seven-days-a-week, twenty-four-hours-a-day basis. One telephone number shall be supplied to the Police Department for use in requesting service, which telephone shall be available at all times.
The contractor shall dispatch towing vehicles in a timely fashion to insure that such vehicle is on the scene within 15 minutes of the call for assistance from the Police Department. Failure to respond in the aforementioned time period will result in the calling of an alternate tower, and shall be a contractor default under the towing contract.
The contractor shall own or lease a storage area within a five-mile radius of the boundaries of the Municipality of Norristown, in a properly zoned area, sufficient in size for the storage of at least 20 vehicles. The area shall be secured with a locked gate and surrounded by a fence that is at least six feet in height. If the contractor has not complied with this specification within 30 days after the date of a towing contract, then the appointment of the contractor and the towing contract shall become null and void and terminated upon written notice by the Municipality. This area shall comply with all related Municipal ordinances for the storage of vehicles, and shall be open for inspection by Municipal officials and for pick up of vehicles by owners, provided they meet the conditions hereof. Authorized person(s) seeking to recover a towed vehicle shall have proper identification and the Municipality of Norristown Police towing release and shall be permitted to remove their vehicles upon payment of proper charges in accordance with the towing fee schedule, in cash between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on a seven-days-a-week basis. The daily storage fee shall be assessed on a twenty-four-hour basis that commences at the time of the tow. The Municipality of Norristown Police shall have access to any towed vehicle on a twenty-four-hour basis. If a towed vehicle is not released under the above-stated conditions, the contractor shall be in default under the towing contract.
The contractor shall pay to the Municipality an annual license fee established from time to time by resolution of the Council of the Municipality of Norristown.
The contractor shall not charge a fee for the towing of any vehicle owned by the Municipality.
The contractor shall acquire and maintain communications (two-way nonpolice radio frequency) equipment that is compatible with that used by the Police Department. If the contractor has not complied with this specification within 30 days after the date of a towing contract, then the appointment of the contractor and the towing contract shall become null and void and terminated upon written notice by the Municipality.
The contractor shall not give advice in any manner regarding any person, company or entity that performs vehicle repairs regarding vehicles towed by the contractor.
If a vehicle owner or lessee or other authorized representative of the owner or lessee requests the vehicle to be towed to another location, the contractor shall advise the customer in advance of any charges in addition to the towing fee schedule.
If the contractor is called by the Municipality Police Department to perform any other service(s), the contractor agrees to charge only the amount designated in the towing fee schedule for that (those) specific service(s).
As required by § 7301 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, the contractor shall comply with the requirements of that chapter, possess a salvor's certificate of authorization and be capable of performing the duties of a salvor in a manner consistent with the public interest. The contractor shall file a copy of its/their salvor's license with the Police Department.
All complaints against the contractor will be investigated and recorded. Any one or more violations may result in a contractor default and termination, within the sole discretion of the Municipality.
The contractor shall pay workmen employed in the performance of the towing contract not less than the prevailing minimum wage rate as determined for various crafts or classification by applicable federal and state governmental agencies.
The provision of towing services within the Municipality shall not be on an exclusive basis. The Municipality reserves the right to execute towing contracts with multiple contractors. If more than one contractor is selected, then the services to be performed by the contractor shall be on a monthly, bimonthly, quarterly or other basis as determined within the sole discretion of the Police Department. The Police Department shall establish a schedule on a rotating basis and provide each contractor with a copy thereof.
The contractor shall have its principal place of business and towing vehicles to be used situated within a five-mile radius of the Municipality of Norristown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
The contractor shall supply a complete list of all towing vehicles, giving a description of the make, model, towing capacity, and license numbers so that the Police Department will be able to identify the equipment available to it.
The contractor shall have a clean business record that would withstand a police background investigation.
The contractor and its shareholders, officers and directors shall not have been convicted of fraud, theft, receiving stolen property and/or other dishonest business practices.
The contractor shall comply with the specifications and all other terms of this article.
The contractor shall be responsible for the care and protection of all vehicles and their contents when towing or storing vehicles for the Municipality, and shall be required to procure and maintain proper insurance coverage. The contractor shall supply five copies of current certificates of insurance from companies licensed to do business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and acceptable to the Municipality as follows:
Worker's compensation insurance: worker's compensation insurance for its employees in accordance with statutory requirements of the commonwealth. The contractor shall execute an affidavit accepting the provisions of the Worker's Compensation Act of 1915, as amended.
Public liability insurance: public liability insurance covering the contractor, its subcontractors and the Municipality for injury or damage caused directly or indirectly by it or its employees for the following limits and in the future may be adjusted by resolution of Municipal Council:
The Municipality of Norristown shall be named as an additional insured on such policies. Thirty days' notice of cancellation of any such policies shall be provided to the Municipality.
A subcontractor retained by the contractor to provide services shall be required to maintain the insurance coverages required of the contractor and shall provide evidence of insurance acceptable to the Municipality prior to commencing work hereunder.
If the contractor receives notice of cancellation or nonrenewal of any or all of the coverages set forth above, the contractor shall notify the Municipality of such cancellation or nonrenewal immediately. The contractor shall cease all work until coverage acceptable to the Municipality is obtained by the contractor.
Prior to the issuance of the towing contract, the contractor shall deposit with the Municipality the sum of $1,000 in cash to be held as a guarantee for faithful performance. In the event that the Municipality gives notice of failure to properly perform and in the further event the contractor fails to comply with the terms of said notice, in addition to any and all remedies of the Municipality at law or in equity, the actual cost incurred by the Municipality for performance of the duties required shall be deducted from the deposit and paid to the Municipality to remedy the contractor's default. Should the amount of the deposit diminish to an amount less than $500, then, upon direction of the Municipality Administrator or the Chief of Police, the contractor shall be required to increase the deposit to the original sum of $1,000 within five days of written notice.
In the event of the failure of the contractor to provide the work required, the Municipality may, upon 24 hours' written notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, declare the contractor in default and terminate the towing contract. The Municipality shall have the right, but not the obligation, to make arrangements for the towing of vehicles at the cost and expense of the contractor. The Municipality shall have the power to determine, at its sole discretion, whether there has been a default or a violation by the contractor.
In the event the contractor is required to hire subcontractors to assist in the performance of any obligation, the contractor shall alone be liable for payment to the subcontractor for services rendered. The contractor shall not hire a subcontractor to assist in the performance of contractor's obligations under the Municipality contract without the prior written consent of the Municipality.
The contractor's charges for services rendered by the contractor shall be submitted directly to the owner or lessee of the vehicle involved, in consideration for the work performed by the contractor. The Municipality shall not be responsible for or pay any of the charges, costs or consideration. The prices for towing services shall be pursuant to the towing fee schedule.
When a snow emergency has been declared by the Municipality, and nonaccident vehicles are towed by police order, then the towing charge shall be as set forth in the towing fee schedule. In addition, all vehicles towed under this provision shall not be assessed the administrative towing fee.
[Adopted 7-7-2009 by Ord. No. 09-13]
The purpose of this article is to prevent private towing companies in Norristown from charging exorbitant fees and rates for towing vehicles in Norristown by regulating said fees and rates and to require that private towing companies obtain an annual license from the Municipality of Norristown for the privilege of operating a towing company in Norristown.
For purposes of this article, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
- Business is the physical place/establishment where employees report to work, equipment is stored and dispatched to and from, all company dealings take place, recordkeeping and daily activity, etc., is performed. For purposes of this article, a business shall have employees at the business address at a minimum of normal business hours, which is defined as 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, exclusive of national holidays.
- CHIEF OF POLICE
- The Chief of Police of the Municipality of Norristown or his/her designee.
- A person having permission from the vehicle owner to exercise care and/or control over a vehicle. This permission shall be in the form of power of attorney.
- MOTOR VEHICLE
- As defined in the Vehicle Code.
- The Municipality of Norristown, Montgomery County, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
- An individual, firm, partnership, association, employee, corporation, company, or organization of any kind.
- PRIVATE PARKING LOT
- A non-municipal parking lot open to the public or used for parking without charge, or a non-municipal parking lot used for parking with charge.
- PRIVATE PROPERTY
- Real property owned by an individual, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company or organization, including "private parking lots" as defined in the Vehicle Code.
- PROPERTY OWNER
- An individual, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company, organization, or designee representing the owner of the property from which the vehicle is being towed.
- TOWING COMPANY
- Any business engaged in the towing, removing, or storing of motor vehicles at the request of the Municipality or private property owners. This includes the towing company owner and its employees and agents.
- TOWING COMPANY OWNER
- Any person(s) having financial interest in a licensed towing company. This does not include persons who are solely employed by the towing company.
- A vehicle designed and used for removing and transporting motor vehicles. This term shall also include a rollback truck, tow truck, or other vehicles commonly used to perform towing services.
A private towing license is required for any towing company engaged in the business of towing vehicles from private property in the Municipality. A private tower shall be licensed annually in accordance with the provisions of this section.
Application for license. Applications for a license shall be submitted to the Chief of Police upon forms prepared and made available by the Municipality. The application form(s) shall be properly completed, signed and accompanied by the application and license fee.
Issuance of license(s). A private towing license shall be issued only to towing companies that comply with the provisions of this article.
License fee. The license fee under this article for the original application for a private towing license shall be established by Council and set forth in the Norristown Fee Schedule, and may be amended from time to time by resolution of Council. The application fee shall be nonrefundable.
License renewal. All licenses, except those terminated for just cause as provided herein, are subject to an annual renewal fee that shall be established by Council and set forth in the Norristown Fee Schedule, and may be amended from time to time by resolution of Council. The renewal fee shall be paid within the first quarter of each calendar year. If a license is not renewed within the first quarter of each calendar year, a new license must be obtained at the license fee set forth in Subsection C of this section.
Changes to license information. All licensed towing companies shall be required to notify the Chief of Police within 24 hours of any modifications to information provided in the tower's license application.
The storage facility shall be owned or leased by the towing company.
The storage facility shall comply with zoning regulations applicable in the jurisdiction where the facility is located.
The storage facility shall be, at a minimum, enclosed by a secured fence or building. When enclosed by a fence, the fence shall be a minimum of six feet in height and made of a sturdy material such as a chain link, wooden slats, or other approved material. All gates shall be secured with locks or other security mechanisms to reasonably prevent entry by unauthorized persons.
The towing company is responsible for the security of the stored vehicles.
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[Amended 12-1-2009 by Ord. No. 09-28]
Release of towed vehicles under a private towing license shall be completed within a two-hour time period following receipt of the request of the owner/custodian to release the towed vehicle. The two-hour release period shall be applicable only during regular business hours of the private towing company.
[Amended 12-1-2009 by Ord. No. 09-28]
Release of personal property from a towed vehicle that is not attached to the vehicle shall be made within a two-hour time period following receipt of the request of the owner/custodian to return the property. No fee shall be charged for the return of personal property from a towed vehicle that is not attached to the vehicle. The two-hour release period shall be applicable only during regular business hours of the private towing company.
[Amended 12-1-2009 by Ord. No. 09-28]
Fees and rates for towing by licensed private towing companies, by class of vehicle, as set forth in Subsection A below, and for storage, set forth in Subsection B below, shall be established by Council and set forth in the Norristown Fee Schedule, and may be amended from time to time by resolution of Council. The fees established for towing and storage are the maximum fees that may be assessed.
Fees for private tows: Maximum towing fees (including use of dollies) shall be established by Council and set forth in the Norristown Fee Schedule for the following classes of vehicles for each wrecker required to complete the tow request:
Class 1: light duty, less than 5,000 pounds.
Class 2: light duty, 5,001 to 10,000 pounds.
Class 3: medium duty, 10,001 to 26,000 pounds.
Class 4: medium duty, 26,001 to 60,000 pounds.
Class 5: heavy duty, 60,000 to 80,000 pounds.
In the event fees other than authorized are charged because of unusual circumstances, the Chief of Police shall be notified in writing within 72 hours after the tow of the fee charged. No vehicle shall be removed under the authority of this article if, at the time of the intended removal, the owner or custodian of the vehicle is present and expresses a willingness and intention to remove the vehicle immediately. In these instances, the towing company shall charge no more than a fee established by Council and set forth in the Norristown Fee Schedule, which may be amended from time to time by resolution of Council, for responding to the scene and the limited services provided. The towing company shall make reasonable accommodations to permit the owner/custodian to obtain payment for the fee charged.
Storage fees. Maximum fees chargeable by a licensed private towing company against a vehicle owner/custodian for the storage of towed vehicles shall be established by Council and set forth in the Norristown Fee Schedule, and may be amended from time to time by resolution of Council, for the following:
A maximum fee for the first twenty-four-hour period from the time the wrecker arrived at the scene.
A maximum fee for each calendar day or portion thereof after the first 24 hours for all classes of vehicles.
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[Amended 12-1-2009 by Ord. No. 09-28]
Protection fee. A towing company may assess the vehicle owner or custodian a fee in addition to the towing fee and any other applicable fees for covering motor vehicles or safeguarding the vehicle within a towing facility with open convertible tops, open windows and/or open areas that will allow weather to penetrate the interior of the vehicle.
Method of payment. Due to the unexpected and costly nature of persons having their vehicles towed, towing companies shall, in addition to cash payment, accept at least two major credit cards for payment of towing and storage services and shall not charge a premium or additional fee for using a credit card.
Repossession towers are exempt from this article so long as they comply with all appropriate state and local statutes.
The Chief of Police shall notify the towing company owner within 14 days of receipt of any complaint against a towing company that will be investigated by the Police Department.
Any towing company that operates within the Municipality and is not licensed as required by this article shall be subject to a fine, upon being found in violation of this article in a civil action, of not less than $300 nor more than $600.
Any towing company or its employee who violates any provision of this article may be subject to administrative sanctions ranging from written warning to termination of license. The towing company shall be notified in writing no less than five calendar days prior to the termination of its license. The notice of termination shall state the reason(s) for termination and the effective date of termination. The towing company shall have 14 calendar days to appeal the termination, in writing, to the Municipal Administrator. The Administrator or his/her designee shall hold the hearing within 10 calendar days of written receipt of the towing company's request for an appeal. The towing company may appeal the Administrator's decision, in writing, to Municipal Council within 10 calendar days of the receipt of the Administrator's decision.
Upon being found to be in violation of any provision of this article, in addition to the penalty listed in § 293-19 above, a towing company may be fined not less than $300 or more than $600. Additionally, upon being found to be in violation of any provision of this article, a towing company shall have its license revoked for a period of one year.