AUSTIN, Texas — As the city of Austin continues to grow, so does the cost its residents and workers pay to live and work here.

But one number that hasn't increased in 13 years is the cost of what the city calls "non-consent tows," like when police call for a tow truck to clear a crash scene.

"When you live here, property taxes go up, everything in general. The cost of living has gone up. You go to Starbucks, you're not paying 2006 prices. So the simpler things, everything adds up," Austin Police Commander Eric Miesse told KVUE.

Since 2006, the non-consent tow fee in Austin has stayed at $150. Compare that with smaller cities, like Kyle, where tow truck companies charge $250.

At an Urban Transportation Commission meeting on Tuesday night, the Austin Police Department's Highway Enforcement Command made its case for a fee increase -- from $150 to $195 -- using research and data, like the cost of living, to come up with the number.

The change would cost drivers an extra $45, but for Tasha Mora and her employees at A&A Wrecker and Recovery, a fee increase means better wages and higher productivity.

"It's trying to get these providers there as quick as possible, as soon as possible, as safe as possible, and clear that roadway. There is a lot of training involved, and there's also a lot of liability that we're exposed to," Mora said. "And to be able to provide that service, we absorb that liability, and there's cost involved in doing so."

While Austin Police supports a fee increase for police-initiated, non-consent tows -- like removing a car from crash scene or impounding a vehicle at a crime scene -- it remains neutral on non-consent tows involving private property, like when a property manager calls a tow company to remove a car.

The city council, however, will decide whether to approve a fee increase for both types of tows in June.

You can read more about the fee increase proposal here.


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