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South Portland City Council ready to hook up new towing charges

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South Portland City Council ready to hook up new towing charges

SOUTH PORTLAND — Proposed changes to the city towing ordinance will be considered at the Monday, Feb. 3, City Council meeting.

Mayor Jerry Jalbert said Wednesday the first changes in 15 years to Chapter 15 of the city code will face the first of two council votes.

The meeting will be preceded by a 6 p.m. workshop with members of the tar sands draft ordinance committee.

Towing ordinance revisions include rate increases to $100 for crashes and $85 for non-crashes, up from flat $65 daytime calls and $75 night calls. Operators can add a $70 fee if the work takes more than an hour, and charge a $25 release fee for vehicles picked up at night or on weekends.

Operators would be required to submit receipts on city-commissioned work every month, and provide the make, year and vehicle identification numbers of the wreckers used.

Ten companies are licensed to work with the city to clear accident scenes or tow illegally parked vehicles. Two companies, Pleasant Hill Towing and Maietta Towing, owned by brothers Vincent and Robert Maietta, are now required to submit receipts for city work each month.

That condition was instituted by Police Chief Ed Googins last November when the Maiettas' licenses were renewed. The Maiettas, S&R Towing operator Curtis Gleason, and Intown Road Service operator Rin Ann had their licenses suspended after overcharging customers on city-commissioned work.

The investigation of the Maiettas' practices and the ensuing squabble between the brothers and South Portland Police Lt. Todd Barlow led to the department filing perjury charges against the brothers. Those charges were dropped last fall by the Cumberland County district attorney.

Googins said Monday that had Gleason and Ann sought license renewals, they would have faced the same conditions.

During the workshop, Robert Maietta argued he was being penalized for one incident. His brother was unable to attend due to the death of their father, Louis Maietta Sr.

Ordinance revisions require two votes and a public hearing, a point Jalbert and Councilor Maxine Beecher made to placate towing company owners who said they have felt left out of the process.

In contrast to council workshops, where no votes are taken, citizens are allowed at least two opportunities to speak for five minutes at council meetings before votes.

Tar sands

The tar sands workshop with committee members Michael Conathan, Russell Pierce Jr. and David Critchfield, and committee facilitator Jeff Edelstein, will set the grounds for the first full committee meeting on Thursday, Feb. 6.

Jalbert said part of the workshop will review public meeting laws and electronic communications between committee members. The committee will draft an ordinance to ban diluted bitumen tar sands oil from being processed in the city.

A 180-day moratorium banning development plans for tar sands expires May 5, but can be extended by councilors.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.