Council discusses alternative to city-owned impound lot

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — An alternative to creating a city-owned impound lot was discussed during Monday’s Sidney City Council meeting.

Sidney Police Capt. Bill Shoemaker made a second appearance before City Council on Monday seeking direction of how to proceed with the issue of police-ordered towed vehicles and the processing of them in a timely manner. He said currently the city of Sidney is not in compliance for processing such vehicles with the state of Ohio.

Shoemaker first approached council in August about the possibility of Sidney creating its own impound lot so the city of Sidney could remain in control of what happens with impounded vehicles. In August he explained some of the city-approved, licensed towing companies, which store impounded vehicles, are delaying notifying lien-holders they are filling for forfeiture of an unclaimed vehicle. Often times this delay causes thousands of dollars in unnecessary storage fees when the vehicle is attempted to be claimed. Such vehicles often has a zero value due to mounted fees, and the business that stored the vehicle can obtain the title and then sell the vehicle.

However if the city creates its own lot, it would have to devote space to the lot and hire part-time help to run the program and lot. The advantage with a city-owned lot, Shoemaker said Monday, is the police department would not be under the same time-crunch to process vehicles because lot storage fees would not be accruing; vehicles would just be taking up space.

Monday he presented a second option for dealing with the issue, which would require tow companies to meet industry standards and regulate the cost they can charge citizens for the tow and the storage fees. Approved tow companies would have to follow all state laws when processing vehicles and obtaining titles for them. If a tow company does not agree to the new regulations, it would not be part of the list used to for police-ordered tows.

Currently, most towing companies charge approximately $125 to $200 for the tow and then $20 per day that the vehicle sits in their lot. Shoemaker said, they would cap the storage fee to $10 per day, no longer sign-over the vehicle to tow companies, and instead deal with abandoned vehicles within days of the tow. He noted it would be crucial to process vehicles within 10 days in order prevent the city from incurring excessive fees.

After a brief discussion, the consensus of council was to go forward with the alternative option, opposed to creating a city tow lot. If the issue is not resolved, Mayor Mike Barhorst said, council will reconsider creating a city-owned tow lot.

In other business, Law Director Jeffrey Amick recommended no changes are needed for council rules or the city’s charter. Council members also presented no objections to their committee assignments.

Council also posed no objection to a new D5H liquor permit request of Raise the Roof for the Arts at 120 W. Poplar St.

The D5H permit class is for non-profit organizations exempt from federal income taxation, that owns a fine arts museum, community arts center or community theater. The D5H permit holder may sell retail beer and liquor, only by the individual drink in glass, from the container and for consumption on the premises where sold.

The permit holder shall sell no beer or liquor for consumption on the premises after 1 a.m. A D5H permit can not be transferred to another location.

The background report conducted by the police department for the permit indicated no known reason to oppose the new liquor license, City Manager Mark Cundiff said.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.