Council to vote on use of out-of-town towing services


City of Oxford meeting recording

Travis Reffitt, owner of Reffitt’s Garage and Towing in McGonigle, addresses Oxford City Council on April 4. 

By Corbett Haase

Oxford City Council approved on first reading an ordinance to expand the number of towing businesses that the police department uses to clear accidents and remove cars from city streets.

Previously, local ordinances only allowed businesses located inside of the city to be on the police rotation list for wrecker operators. Officials said that at one point this list contained three different wrecker services, but since 2017 it has narrowed to only one remaining provider. 

Under the revision proposed April 4 by Oxford Police Chief John Jones, the police will be able to use other qualified wrecker services located within 5 miles of the city limits. 

“The current ordinance was designed to keep business local since those employees were paying city income taxes,” Jones said. “I certainly want to keep doing business with both of our companies or with our current companies, but this issue has been raised and it’s kind of come to a head.” 

He said that a wrecker service is located in McGonigle, less than 5 miles from the Oxford line. Jones said additional wrecker services are within 10 miles that, if placed on the rotation list, could potentially serve the Oxford area.

“As chief of police, I like to have more options available. I don’t want to take anybody’s business away, but the more resources we have, the better,” he said.

Mike Libecap, owner of CARSTAR and partial owner of Oxford Car Care in Oxford, told the council that his primary tow truck driver, George Watson, has been with the company for 16 years. He said his company has zero missed calls with response time averaging 27 minutes. He said his agreement with the city called for a 30-minute response time. 

“Those tows have always gotten done,” Libecap said. He gestured to George, continuing, “His primary income is based off of those tows… he’s been a great employee and he is in line to take over my companies. He has a vested interest in this.”

Libcap said that his company is also on the county’s rotation list and said it was fair for the city to want to have backup providers.

Travis Reffitt, owner of Reffitt’s Garage and Towing, a 46-year-old business in McGonigle, said that he did not want to ruin anyone’s business, but that his company’s equipment warrants their placement on the rotation list. The company has 13 tow trucks and 10 employees, with two or three employees on call at all times.

“How can a place that has one wrecker handle a two-car wreck if both of the cars are all-wheel drive and one’s rolling back?” he said. “It can’t. You can’t even get both cars on if you don’t have two drivers.”

As well as being within five miles of Oxford, the wrecking companies will have to agree to provide 24-hour service and submit proof of liability insurance to be eligible to receive calls from Oxford Police.

“I feel like our response time is second to none,” he said. “We average a solid 20 minutes anywhere in the county and we cover anywhere from the river in Ross all the way to the Preble County Line in Milford Township.”

The ordinance is expected to come before council for a second reading on April 18.