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Committee approves submission of towing receipts ‘to ensure that people aren’t being scammed’

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MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee's Public Safety and Health Committee wants more transparency from towing companies when they perform so-called "non-consensual" tows of unauthorized vehicles off of private property.

The proposal approved Thursday, Oct. 24 met some resistance from a handful of local towing companies, which prompted a series of delays. Committee Chairman Bob Donovan held up the legislation at the past two meetings to give the city time to meet with towing companies and hear their objections. This time, he called it for a vote.

Alderman Bob Donovan

Alderman Bob Donovan

"This isn't Burger King," Donovan said. "You're not going to get it the way you want it all the time."

Over a handful of objections, the committee voted unanimously to require towing companies to submit "itemized receipts" within 60 days of a private property tow "in order to ensure that people aren't getting scammed," said Nik Kovac, 3rd District alderman.

Alderman Nik Kovac

Alderman Nik Kovac

The legislation was prompted by a FOX6 investigation that found Always Towing routinely charging an extra $125 for the use of "special equipment," even when our hidden cameras showed no such equipment was used to haul a car away.

"Hopefully, that will change once this ordinance goes into effect," Kovac said.

Of the 13 towing companies the city talked to about the plan, they said seven were in favor, with six against.

Alderman Michael Murphy

Alderman Michael Murphy

"I think what we're trying to get to is just honesty," said Michael Murphy, 10th District alderman and a co-sponsor of the legislation with Kovac.

"It's truly a consumer protection law," Murphy said after the meeting, "But we couldn't have done it without Channel 6."

Representatives of Always Towing declined to speak with FOX6 News, but they did testify briefly about concerns that the ordinance, as written, could inadvertently apply to some repossession cases. Chairman Donovan directed city staff to review that concern and consider whether an amendment is needed when the proposal goes before the full Milwaukee Common Council, which meets next the first week of November.

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