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Published: Wednesday, 6/27/2007

City seeks tow-lot contractor

BY LAREN WEBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner announced yesterday the city is seeking bids from private contractors to run the city-owned tow lot at Dura and North Detroit avenues in the north end.

The tow lot has been operated by the Toledo Police Department since 2005 and generated nearly $1 million during its first 12 months of operation.

The city bought the 34-acre property under Mayor Jack Ford, who pressed for the police tow lot saying it would make vehicle recovery easier for people whose vehicles are towed by police order.

Officers man the tow lot during its seven-day-a-week operation, police Chief Michael Navarre said. Privatizing the lot would cut the number in half, allowing more police to patrol the streets.

"If the job is handed off to the private sector, that would free up the police officers and they will spend their time better [by] protecting the streets," Mr. Finkbeiner said during a news conference.

Dan Wagner, president of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association, objects to the city's plans to allow a private company to run the tow lot.

Mr. Wagner said selling the lot is like "letting money walk out the door."

About 1,000 vehicles are salvaged each year at the North Toledo lot by Voll's Towing, a private towing company contracted by the city.

The city could make $400,000 a year by salvaging the vehicles itself, Mr. Wagner said.

"Why the city would give up that right when we're trying to balance a budget deficit, I don't understand," Mr. Wagner said. "It doesn't make sense."

Chief Navarre said the successful bidder will have to guarantee the city at least $1 million in revenue annually.

"This isn't a done deal," he said.

"This is going to be a very smart business move for the city if the bids come in the way we think they are. If they don't, then we don't move forward."

Chief Navarre said some officers would remain at the tow lot to perform seizure-of-evidence duties and chain-of-custody functions.



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