MITCHELL — Significant changes are being made to the city of Mitchell’s towing agreement in an effort to make rates “more fair” for vehicle towing operators.
The city’s towing agreement has kept rates the same for vehicle towing operators that work with the city since 2019. The new daytime rate for one towed vehicle rose to $165, marking a $45 increase from the previous rate. The evening rate is $185.
Mitchell Police Chief Mike Koster said the increased rates in the newly modified agreement — going up 37.5% for the daytime rate — were made by evaluating several other towing rate structures in South Dakota cities.
“We’ve had contract rates with these individuals for the past four years, and we have not had an increase in the rates,” Koster said of the towing agreement. “The use of these operators are for snow removal and parking violations. We do occasionally have issues where Public Works Department is doing street work or removals.”
The Mitchell City Council approved the amended towing agreement during a Monday, Dec. 18 meeting. The city utilizes a handful of local towing companies that perform services on a rotational system. Any towing operator contracted with the city must be located within 1 mile of Mitchell city limits.
Another key change in the agreement will allow owners of towed vehicles better access to pick up a vehicle being stored at a respective towing company location in Mitchell.
Towing businesses that provide services for the city must now have a storefront and storage space to keep up to 10 towed vehicles. Vehicle storage fees also jumped from $30 to $50, according to the modified agreement.
“The reasoning behind that is we’ve had some individuals approach us and don’t have a business. They just want to rent the space, store the vehicles and release them as they get calls. We want to have a business front there so people can come down and get their vehicles retrieved,” Koster said.
A separate towing fee for electric vehicles (EVs) was also added to the newly modified towing agreement. The fee for storing an EV with a damaged battery is $150 per day. Koster explained EV batteries, if damaged, can be hazardous following a crash.
“Another thing that has come up in Sioux Falls — I spoke to with their individuals about — is the increase in electric vehicles. If those are in a crash and a battery is damaged, there is a substantial risk of what is called thermal runaway in which those batteries overheat and cause fires,” Koster said of the risks associated with towing EVs.
New to the agreement is a $50 fluid pickup fee towing operators can charge when applicable. According to the agreement, towing operators may charge a $50 fluid pickup fee if fluid removal along roads is necessary during a tow.
“In the past, we’ve not had a fluid pickup fee. Expenses have increased for those operators, and we weren’t accommodating anything for them,” Koster said.
Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.