Impound lot brings in $200K for Niles

NILES — Niles has collected nearly $220,000 since creation of its impound lot in April 2016, supplementing the city’s police budget and enabling the purchase of new equipment, said police Chief Jay Holland.

But the high costs associated with the city-run impound yard has some crying foul.

Towing companies charge people for the tow, Holland said, and the city charges people a $75 administrative fee for storage plus a $25 to $100 fee per day, depending on the type of vehicle towed. Passenger cars are charged $25 a day, boats $50 and semi trucks or dump trucks $100 per day. If people don’t retrieve their vehicles within five days, they are sent a certified letter, Holland said, and if they don’t retrieve the vehicle within 10 days, the city gets a salvage title and sells the cars via online auction at www.govdeals.com.

The first car was towed to the lot April 6, 2016. In that year, $75,042 was collected, which included $42,225 in administrative and storage fees and $32,817 generated through online sales of vehicles that went unclaimed. Last year, the first full year of collections, $142,885 was collected, including $83,211 in fees and $59,674 in the sales of unclaimed vehicles.

In the nine months the lot was open in 2016, a total of 273 vehicles were towed there and 577 vehicles were towed there in 2017. So far this year, 52 vehicles have been towed to the lot, Holland said, by either Pantalone Towing or White’s Towing.

Holland said the majority of vehicles towed to the lot are passenger vehicles taken following traffic stops in which drivers are found to have suspended operator’s licenses, arrest warrants or who have committed violations like driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Other times, vehicles are towed after hit-skips or if tags are expired for an extended amount of time, Holland said.

The money generated through the lot has provided a substantial supplement to the department’s budget, Holland said, and this year two of the five new 2018 Ford Explorers the department purchased were bought solely from impound lot revenue.

Holland said the department will continue to update its fleet of 35 vehicles and purchase vehicles with money from the impound lot and the general fund. The department currently has 12 Ford Explorers and 23 Ford Crown Victoria police cruisers.

Safety Director George Kaniclides, who was a police officer in the city for 35 years, said he’s fully supportive of the lot because it saves the city money on vehicle purchases. The city went through years where vehicles were in sorry shape, Kaniclides said.

“The impound lot means a lot to the city and the police department,” he said. “This is probably one of the best things the city has ever come up with. The chief does one hell of a job with this.”

Not everyone agrees, however, with the concept. Resident Jason Thomas had his car towed the second day the lot existed because he said his license had expired two weeks earlier and he forgot to renew it. When all was said and done it cost him $379 to get his car back and closer to $1,000 when other costs including court, towing fee, increased insurance and a couple days off work were factored in.

“I understand when you do something wrong, you have to follow the law and pay the price,” Thomas said. “But I just thought it was entirely too expensive.”

jwysochanski@tribtoday.com

COMMENTS