Cumberland Times-News

March 1, 2014

Keyser awaits PSC opinion on impound lot before taking action

Elaine Blaisdell
Cumberland Times-News

— KEYSER, W.Va. — Mayor Randy Amtower announced during the Keyser Council meeting on Wednesday that he plans on drafting a letter to the West Virginia Public Service Commission chairman for a legal opinion on the city-operated impound lot.

The lot was on the agenda for the meeting but it was tabled until the second council meeting in March so Amtower could get more information. 

Amtower spoke with an attorney with Spillman Thomas & Battle in Charleston and was advised the city couldn’t upcharge for the tow. An upcharge is an additional fee that is added to a bill after a contract has already been negotiated. Amtower sought the legal advice after a meeting with Robert Morris, supervisor of the motor carrier section of the transportation department of the PSC.

“He doesn’t see a problem with us contracting for the police portion of the tow and getting contract rate for that but if we were to upcharge that’s were he feels it’s becoming problematic,” said Amtower. “If you upcharge then they are perceiving that as you are becoming a tow for hire because now you are receiving money for a tow.”

The city was hoping to have towing companies bid for a yearly flat-rate contract for towing vehicles into the impound lot and was planning on upcharging as a way to bring additional revenue into the city.

The proposed impound lot would go between the old Buchanan building and Maryland Street and then in the future would be moved out to the end of the lagoon property on Waxler Road. There isn’t a problem with the operation of the impound lot, according to Amtower.

The lot would only be used for police tows.

The idea of the city-owned impound is similar to the city-run trash issue that came about in 2011 but was opposed by citizens. That idea would have kept citizens from stockpiling trash and would have saved them money, Amtower said previously. However, citizens didn’t like the idea of having the mandatory charge for trash added onto their water bill. The main difference between the two ideas is that the city-operated im-pound would only affect criminals, Amtower said.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.