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County may reimburse for towing in first storm

POSTED: February 14, 2014 9:51 p.m.

As another round of winter weather approached, Forsyth County commissioners discussed the possibly of helping some motorists whose vehicles were towed during January's frigid blast.

During a work session Tuesday, the commission voted 5-0 to direct County Attorney Ken Jarrard to draft a measure that could potentially allow people who abandoned their vehicles on county roads to be reimbursed for expenses incurred after they were towed.

County Manager Doug Derrer told commissioners he had received five requests for reimbursement. He said the costs appear to be between $150 and $200 each.

Citing information from authorities, Derrer said about 50 vehicles were towed between Jan. 28-30 in Forsyth as motorists struggled to drive. His staff also checked to see if nearby counties were planning to reimburse for towing expenses.

"Fulton, Cherokee and Gwinnett, at the time we did this research, they were not providing any kind of refunds," Derrer said. "From DeKalb County down, those counties were providing some form of refund and/or a tow fee and even perhaps lot fees."

Commissioners Pete Amos and Cindy Jones Mills noted they had received a few calls and emails from residents about the matter.

"I even spoke with one man who said a deputy was there and the deputy advised them to leave the cars there [on a roadway]," Mills said. "He went back the next day and his car had been towed."

Amos asked Jarrard about any sort of liability the county could incur from providing reimbursements.

"I don't know. I think if the board is inclined to do this, I would respectfully ask that you give me some instruction and let me put together a resolution for you," Jarrard said. "I'd like to just double down on the legality of it.”

Commissioner Todd Levent questioned how the county would determine eligibility.

"Obviously, we're going to give you a finite window of the days ... and then we'll just have to link it up to the weather-event driving," Jarrard said.

Levent and Mills said they wanted to ensure the county would be protected from paying fees incurred as a result of a wreck.

"We don't want to get into the accident business," Mills said.

Derrer sought to clarify that the resolution would apply only to the Jan. 28 to 30 time frame.

"That's what we're going to lock it down by are those discreet dates of the last storm," said Jarrard, adding that the same practice probably would not be available for every winter storm.



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