Government

Towing Ordinance Tabled Over Insurance, Fee Concerns

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BRIDGEWATER, NJ - With continued concern over a $50 administrative fee and the release of insurance information, the township council once again tabled an ordinance about towing, with the expectation of approving it at the next meeting.

Mike Bessasparis, owner of Somerset Hills Towing, said he is also concerned about the requirements on towers to provide a great deal of information to the police department, including each invoice and more. He said he has spoken to the police department and there have never been any complaints from residents about overcharging or more.

“Why burden small businesses with unnecessary record keeping with the Tow Record Log Book?” he asked. “And they want us to submit every single invoice to be audited by a police officer with taxpayer funds? It’s a waste with no reasoning.”

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Bessasparis said he is concerned that requiring all records to be turned over could expose personal information of the citizens served by the companies.

“It is an unnecessary exposure to identity theft and potential lawsuits resulting from it,” he said.

As to the $50 fee, Bessasparis said he believes it is wrong.

“Police services is already in our taxes,” he said. “If someone actually took ownership to this idea, I’d ask them to inform the taxpayers in plain English, not a broad spectrum definition within the ordinance what the extra $50 is paying for.”

An attorney retained by Somerset Hills Towing questioned several violations he perceived in the ordinance, including the idea that a license for a tower could be revoked prior to a hearing being held.

“If the revocation is deemed not needed, the company loses funds,” he said. “That is a violation of due process.”

In addition, the attorney questioned several statutes mentioned in the ordinance, including one or two that he said have actually already been repealed by the state.

One resident questioned whether he would be required to pay the $50 administrative towing fee if he is the victim of a car accident, hit by someone else. The council said he would.

And another resident expressed concerns about the potential for identity theft if the towers are required to pass on information about their clients to the police for periodic checks.

Councilwoman Christine Henderson Rose made the motion to table the ordinance, which was approved unanimously. Council president Matthew Moench and councilman Howard Norgalis were not present at the meeting.

“This is a never-ending ordinance, and I ask council to look into the concerns presented,” Rose said.

The ordinance is expected to come back before the council Nov. 6.

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