Some things become fixtures in Miami Beach: a car will be towed if left in the wrong parking lot, no matter if the owner just went to LIME for a second; and the Miami Beach Commission will push back their vote on the newly negotiated towing permits.
For the nth time in nearly a full year, the cautious Miami Beach Commission pushed back a vote that would have determined if the city’s two-company towing monopoly got a three year extension that could have included rising fees.
This time around in the Commission’s October 24 meeting, a lawyer from Tremont Towing asked for the extra month.
Discussions over the new permits, it’s stipulations, benefits to the city, and fee hikes date back to December of 2011.
If not heard in the November 14th commission meeting, the issue would have hit a year without a decision.
The companies seek to secure a three year permit, and the issue has bounced around from the Commission to commission committees, and back.
Long verbal battles have become the norm whenever this issue has had a public discussion. Lawyers for the tow companies cite a need for an increase in fees because of high property tax rates unique to the city, rising fuel costs, and increased labor expenses. Some estimates have had the increase to about 31% across the cost spectrum.
The city has instituted into the new permit agreement certain enhancements: like drug tests, uniforms, and screened drivers licenses for tow employees. By the end of the first year, the proposed agreement would have all tow trucks tracked by GPS. There is also an option where the city could call for cameras in all vehicles.
At stake is also the dismissal of a couple of lawsuits filed against the city by Beach Towing. A passed permit means no more litigation arising from disputes by the two towing companies.
As of the October meeting, the administration has recommended all of the permit’s stipulations except for the “Maximum Allowable Towing Rates.” A hearing on the New Police and Parking Towing Permit for Beach Towing and Tremont Towing will be heard in November. Maybe.