St. Paul City Council increases snow emergency tow rate |

St. Paul City Council increases snow emergency tow rate

Updated: December 04, 2019 11:01 PM

It will cost drivers more to get their vehicles back if they've been towed during a snow emergency in St. Paul.

The St. Paul City Council voted Wednesday to raise the rate from $202 to $275.08. 

Drivers will also still have to pay the $56 citation. Those who don’t pick up their vehicle before midnight on the day it’s towed, will face an extra $15 per day storage fee.

The city council approved the new contracts with towing companies at its afternoon meeting. 

The increase went into effect immediately.

“We are always trying to keep it low, but we also want to make sure that the cars are being moved and that we are competitive with other cities,” said City Council President Amy Brendmoen. “We want to keep our streets clear and safe for our community members.”

More than 2,200 vehicles were ticketed during the last snow emergency, according to the city. Even though they could've all been transported to the impound lot, only about 370 vehicles were towed.

Brendmoen told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that they had difficulty last year getting vehicles removed during snow emergencies.

“We were unable to clear the streets as efficiently as we would’ve liked,” she said.

“After looking into it, we realized that one of the problems was our towing contractors were unable to get [subcontractors] to come and do the work in the city of St. Paul because our rates really weren't competitive with other cities.”

The increase in towing fees will bring their rates up to a competitive level, she said.

According to Department of Public Works spokesperson Lisa Hiebert, the new $275.08 rate includes a $175 towing fee, $80 administrative fee, and $20.08 in taxes. 

The previous rate of $202 also included the $80 administrative fee and taxes.

Under the previous contracts, however, the towing fee ranged from $90 to $120 between the four towing zones. Heibert said because people didn’t have a choice in who towed their car, they charged for the average amount. 

St. Paul resident Kelly Allen told KSTP she understands the perils of parking in the street.

“I just think you have to pay close attention or you risk getting towed,” she said.

It was a concern for her while she was away for Thanksgiving.

“It snowed while we were gone so not knowing if our car would be there when we returned from out of town,” she said.

Luckily, it was still there. Allen has signed up for text alerts and said she’s already received a couple.

She thinks the increased towing fees will encourage people to move their vehicles.

“I think that’s really steep,” she said. “There’s a lot of people that don’t have that kind of fee in their budget.”

The city hopes it will have that effect.

“Move your cars,” said Brendmoen. “I mean we do our best to get the word out with our apps, with emails, with phone calls with messaging on social media. I'm encouraging people to talk to their neighbors. The best way to avoid these impound fees is to move your car.”

The increase passed as part of the consent agenda.

For comparison, in Minneapolis, the standard tow charge is $138.

St. Paul to conduct citywide residential plow Tuesday and Wednesday

For comparison, in Minneapolis, the standard tow charge is $138.

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Callan Gray

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