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March 20. 2013 5:47PM

City tow fees: Keep them low

Why should Manchester residents pay a $110 car-towing fee? City Police Chief David Mara says the city has to keep up with the rates charged in other municipalities. That would be true only if towing companies refused to serve Manchester because the city did not pay enough.

Right now the fee in Manchester is $70 for a standard tow and $85 for a tow during non-business hours. In Concord the rates are $145 and $120 respectively. In Nashua, they are $125 and $95. Bedford charges $125 and Londonderry $105. Mara wants Manchester's rates set at $110 for a standard tow and $125 for a non-business hours tow.

Those are steep increases (57 percent higher for a standard tow and 47 percent for a non-business hours tow). Mara says the city has to keep up with the rates charged in other municipalities so the towing companies will work here.

That is true to a point. The question is: Who is running the show? The city should be negotiating the lowest tow rate it can possibly get. It should not simply raise its rate to match what other municipalities pay.

The city's role here is twofold: 1) contract for a necessary service, and 2) protect residents by procuring that service at the best rate.

A small rate increase might be necessary, considering the large gap between Manchester's rates and those of nearby Bedford and Londonderry. But the city has a volume advantage. There are more cars to tow here. Our rates should be lower than those in every other city or town in the state.

Aldermen need to examine this matter closely before voting on it. If they simply rubber-stamp the police recommendation rather than going for the lowest tow rate we can get, they will be letting down the people.


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