Montgomery County Commissioners Court adopts County-government-assisted towing oligopoly

Tim Holifield, Sheriff’s Captain in The Woodlands, presented the towing company regulation proposal to the Montgomery County Commissioners Court on Friday, February 12, 2021.

The Golden Hammer Staff Reports

Conroe, February 22 – With the beneficiary towing company operators, especially Precinct 4 Commissioner James Metts’ close political associate T.J. Knox, urging them on, the Montgomery County Commissioners Court adopted a towing oligopoly in Montgomery county for non-consent tows at a special meeting on Friday, February 12, 2021. As Assistant County Attorney Amy Dunham described it, the Commissioners voted unanimously for an “incident management rotation system for non-consent tows.”

“Oligopoly” means “a state of limited competition, in which a market is shared by a small number of producers or sellers.”

Small tow truck operators without their own storage lot inside of the four County towing zones in which they provide towing service will not have the privilege of competing in a rotation system for tows after vehicle accidents or other non-consent tows.

As Sheriff’s Office Captain Tim Holifield explained, “The Sheriff [Rand Henderson] directed us to facilitate the Commissioners Court’s policy at their direction” which the Court set after a lengthy discussion on Tuesday, February 9. Holifield said, “We redrew the map and…ratified that into our law zones, so when a deputy calls for a wrecker in rotation, it will actually grid to that.”

The four zones roughly coincide with the County Commissioners Precincts with 15 towing companies on rotation in Commissioners Precincts 2 (Riley in the West), 3 (Noack in the South), and 4 (Metts in the East), along with 12 towing companies on rotation for Commissioners Precinct 1 (Walker in the North). All of the towing companies in those respective zones will need to maintain ownership in a storage lot in the respective zone to remain in the towing rotation.

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office map showing proposed tow zones per Commissioners Court’s February 9 resolution.

Holifield described that the Sheriff’s Office personnel “met with tow companies and took a rough understanding of their desires.”

Holifield, Sheriff Henderson, and the Sheriff’s Office requested that the Commissioners Court grant them until March 1 to get the system in place. The Commissioners Court unanimously acceded to their request.

The Sheriff’s Captain said, “We have to put at the forefront public safety and officer safety.” Nevertheless, East Montgomery County towing operator T.J. Knox spoke more bluntly about the monopolistic-oligopolistic goals of the large towing and storage companies of which he operates one. “The only way it’s going to hurt me is if you allow 50 more wreckers on this side of town. We’d hope you’ll only allow the people who took their business out of there, because of the new rule and allow them the chance to reopen their storage lot,” Knox told the Court.

Tow truck company owner T.J. Knox, who is one of Commissioner James Metts’ closest political supporters, spoke to the Montgomery County Commissioners Court in favor of the restrictive tow truck company regulation, which would greatly benefit his company in East Montgomery County, on Friday, February 12, 2021.

Knox said that he and other tow truck operators intend to pass the new County fees, which the system will bring, to insurance companies or customers.

Only one small towing operator spoke against the proposal, although in previous meetings many had done so.

Richard Weibel with S&B Towing in Magnolia told the Commissioners Court he also favored the oligopoly concept: “We’re good with capping it. Cap it and let’s move forward.”

The Commissioners Court voted unanimously to adopt the revised towing map, require tow companies to have permitted storage facilities in any tow zone in which they operate, and allow Sheriff Henderson to administer the system.

An government-mandated oligopoly is born.

 

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