by Valerie Verkamp
Landmark assistant editor
A conflict between a tow truck service provider and the sheriff's department came to a head Monday in a county commission meeting.
Jared Innis with All Star Towing and Recovery told the three-member commission that he provided the county with the lowest bid, but that his bid was being unfairly viewed based on erroneous grounds.
Last year, All Star Towing entered into a one-year service contract to provide tow services for the county. During that time, the county attempted to fill its obligation with the state by conducting an audit of All Star's business transactions. The purpose of the audit is to ensure the county and its citizens are billed the correct fees for the contracted services.
An issue allegedly erupted when the sheriff's department requested certain documents from the tow company.
Captain Erik Holland with the Platte County Sheriff's Office said that All Star Towing did not provide the county with the requested documents and thus failed to comply with the all the conditions of the existing contract.
Since the company missed the mark and was unsuccessful in providing the requested documents within a three-week period, All Star Towing could not be considered a qualified service provider this year, said Cpt. Holland.
The sheriff's department also alleged that All Star Towing failed to comply with ordinance No. 301.344, which requires counties to license wrecker or tow service providers that are either physically located within the county or if the company conducts more than 50 percent of its business within the county.
Pursuant to the ordinance, the wrecker or tow service provider must pay a license fee of $75 per year and $25 per year for each vehicle. A violation of the ordinance carries a penalty, including a fine up to $500 or imprisonment up to one year.
When Innis took the podium at Monday’s meeting, he denied being in violation of the contract. He appeared surprised he was obligated to obtain a county license that was separate and distinct from the license granted by the State of Missouri. He said he does business in three separate counties and was unaware he needed to obtain a license from the county.
“I was never asked for this information. I would be happy to provide it,” said Innis. “I was never asked. It was just something done, that I knew nothing about until Thursday at almost 5 o’clock.
Holland said the sheriff's department only recently became aware the tow service failed to obtain a license from the county.
“When we became aware there was not a county tow license, although there were only a few days left before this meeting, we terminated the contract as we can't abide by somebody violating a county ordinance that has a potential criminal penalty attached to it,” said Cpt. Holland.
In a counter argument, Innis alleged the county was the party that breached the contract and committed violations in the course of the bidding process.
“I might ask this (bidding award) be tabled so I can have a chance to meet with him and present my documentation and try to resolve these matters. I don't want to create a nasty legal battle, but if I can't pursue my information and try to resolve this problem I will have no option other than to seek legal remedies,” said Innis.
In response, Captain Holland said he was unaware of Innis's claims alleging the county breached its contract.
Holland said the sheriff's department sent All Star a letter just last week, informing the tow service provider that the service contract had been terminated due to All Star's failure to receive a tow license from the county and failure to comply with the county's request for documents in order to conduct an audit.
The sheriff's department said it asked the tow truck company for the requested documents three weeks before the bid.
“To this date, we still have not received the required documents from All Star Towing,” said Holland.
Innis addressed the second issue, claiming that he was the low bidder and to his acknowledge he followed the requirements of the request for proposals.
“The RFP (request for proposals) requires you to have everything at the time of the contract, not beforehand,” said Innis.
All Star was one of only two bids the county received for tow services. The second bid was offered by Express Tow and Recovery. When the contract with All Star was terminated, Express Tow was utilized as a stand-in as the county's tow service provider, Holland said.
Despite Innis' plea to stall the bid award, a contract was awarded to Express Tow by a vote of 2-1 by the county commissioners. Duane Soper cast the dissenting vote; Ron Schieber and Beverlee Roper were in favor.