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Louisville Metro proposes raising towing fees at city impound lot

Louisville's impound lot currently holds 1,000 vehicles more than what it's designed for, according to officials.
Roberto Roldan
/
LPM
Louisville's impound lot has frequently been over capacity in recent years.

Louisville officials want to raise the fees charged to people whose cars are towed off city streets.

The proposal from Mayor Craig Greenberg’s administration would see the base cost of a tow nearly double, from $85 to $150. That fee could be higher if the job takes longer than an hour. The fee for each day a vehicle sits in the city’s impound lot off Frankfort Avenue would also go up from $10 to $30.

Megan Metcalf, Greenberg’s deputy general counsel, told Metro Council members at a Public Safety Committee meeting Tuesday night that the changes are meant to cover the increased costs of operating the impound lot.

This comes as Louisville Metro settles a $1.5 million class action lawsuit brought by people whose vehicles were impounded after 2008. Lawyers argued the city did not follow the proper procedures when it quietly raised the towing fees that year and again in 2018.

Louisville agreed to settle the suit in May and attorneys were expected to appear in federal court Wednesday to finalize the terms.

“[The changes set] it at a level that would allow us to keep these fees stable for a number of years,” Metcalf said. “It wouldn’t require us to raise them to keep up with labor and other costs.”

Metcalf said the proposed fee structure is in line with what similar nearby cities charge for towing and storage.

Nashville charges a $225 flat rate for towing and $55 per day for storage. St. Louis, meanwhile, charges a flat fee of $100 for towing plus $80 per hour for labor. It also charges $25 per day for storage.

Metcalf said Metro Council approving the proposed increases would ensure the new fee structure is put in place the right way and help the city avoid future litigation. Previously, city employees were increasing tow lot fees without the proper approval.

“It allows us the flexibility to start anew without adding to the class of folks who could be party to this class action” Metcalf said.

Louisville Metro has struggled in recent years to get vehicles off the impound lot and back to their owners. Overcrowding at the city-run lot led to wrecked vehicles piling up on city streets last year.

In response, Metro Council gave city officials the authority to enact amnesty periods, up to 30 days in a calendar year, where people could pick up their vehicles without fees.

Kevin Trager, a spokesperson for Greenberg, said Wednesday that the city intends to continue the amnesty periods even if fees increase.

Metro Council’s eight-member Public Safety Committee unanimously approved the new fee structure Tuesday night. The full council is expected to take a final vote on the measure this week.

If it passes, the fee increase would go into effect immediately.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.