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Superior will collect accurate tow fees

Changes made to Superior’s towing license fee more than 19 years ago will finally be reflected on the application and collected in full.

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The city of Superior will collect the license fee from tow operators established in city ordinance in 2002 for the first time with an update to the license application. The license fee increased to $75 in 2002, but the application didn't reflect the change, so towing and wrecker service operators have continued to pay the old $50 license fee.
Jed Carlson / 2016 File / Superior Telegram

For nearly two decades towing and wrecker services in Superior have been getting a bargain rate on their licensing fees.

The city’s charge for the license increased in 2002, but the application for the license was never updated to reflect the new cost, and tow operators have only been charged the cost reflected on the application.

“The application for the towing/wrecker lists the application fee as $50, but in our code it’s $75, so I think that’s one we should really focus on updating first,” city clerk Camila Ramos said.

Ramos confirmed for members of the city's license and fees committee Monday, Jan. 10, that the lower fee is what the city has been collecting since the higher fee was adopted. She said they could consider updating the license application to match city code, or reduce the fee adopted in 2002.

The ordinance was overhauled by a special committee in 2001 and 2002 before the council adopted it in September 2002 following a series of complaints from individuals whose vehicles were towed from public and private property without law enforcement involvement as required by state law.

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Councilor Brent Fennessey noted that Superior’s license fee was already lower than some municipalities listed in a spreadsheet passed out during Monday’s meeting.

There are add-on rates for the number of vehicles licensed, Ramos said.

According to the city’s code of ordinances, in addition to the $75 license fee adopted in 2002, towing and wrecker service operators pay an additional $50 for each vehicle they operate in the city. The code of ordinances also requires a $5 fee for each driver, but Ramos said the city has never charged anyone for the driver rate.

Councilor Jack Sweeney made a motion to update the application to reflect the $75 fee, which was seconded by Councilor Robert Pierce, and approved by the committee.

The change in the fee won’t affect existing licenses, which were renewed for the year by Jan. 1.

Ramos revealed some good news about a policy the committee established last fall.

“I just wanted to report, every renewable license that expired at the end of December came in before the deadline expired,” Ramos said. “There were no late fees at all. That’s never happened.”

Ramos credited the late fee policy established by the license and fees committee for renewal applications being returned before licenses expired.

Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or snelson@superiortelegram.com.
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