Fort Wayne Towing companies ask City Council for a shot at the City's towing contract | Community

Parker's towing has had an exclusive contract with the City of Fort Wayne since 2013, and competitors say they haven't had the chance to bid for that partnership since.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) -- Fort Wayne towing companies stepped up to the podium during Tuesday’s city council meeting. They say they want a chance to bid for the city’s towing contract.

Parker Towing has had that exclusive contract since 2013, renewing the deal every three years. 

Parker Towing 2013 contract

"There is a city contract that has not been put out for bid for years and been renewed and renewed," Fort Wayne City Councilman Russ Jehl said.

Jehl says other city contracts, like the one for trash pickup, are required to go to public bid.

However, Indiana Code 5-22-17-4 has allowed Parker to renew its contract three times without a bid, barring an increase in cost to taxpayers.

"The numbers are changing, not necessarily from the city's revenue side, but from the charge to those that are being towed,” Jehl said.

Parker's cost to taxpayers has not increased since 2013, but their customer charge has increased from $30 to $85 for a light tow.

Some competitor companies proposed a new plan at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

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"Our goal really isn't for one company to have it; it should be on a rotation. There's multiple providers throughout the city that could honestly provide a better service," Blue Eagle Towing Manager Mark Campbell said.

Campbell says any local company would love a shot at working with the city.

"It's not just my towing company versus his towing company. It's a united front of the employers of this city that run this industry," Campbell said.

He says many places like Indianapolis have their contracts on a rotation, but Parker's Towing attorney Andy Boxberger thinks that's a bad idea.

"It's confusing. It's different companies all the time. The police department's not going to know who to call. Parker has invested in this community, they've invested in their infrastructure and they have the means to provide the service," Boxberger said.

Competitors say the rotation process would improve customer experience.

Blue Eagle Towing building

"It gives everyone a fair chance at the market,” Riverside Towing Owner Ben McKean said.

"It promotes competition and capitalism,” Campbell said.

"Response time. I think that’s the biggest thing is response time," Reichert-Knepp Heavy Towing Manager Christopher Harms said.

Boxberger says the city should take those comments with a grain of salt, thought, considering who they come from.

"I think that these are coming from competitors who would like this contract that Parker has, so I do think that credibility is in question," Boxberger said.

Despite Boxberger's claim that the others just want a piece of Parker's pie, Jehl says City Council will seriously look into the fact that the contract has not gone up for public bid in more than 10 years.

"It's just a bedrock principle of good government: you competitively bid contracts. That's just part of good government, and then when there's a concern like this, it just doesn't look right. It doesn't feel right," Jehl said.

Parker’s contract will end in 2025, and Jehl says he hopes the city will listen to bids from several companies before signing another three-year Request for Proposal deal.


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