Port Arthur Council reviews existing wrecker ordinance, potential for more business

Published 12:34 am Tuesday, July 11, 2023

A representative of the Port Arthur Police Department on Monday addressed councilmembers on the city’s current wrecker ordinance and the process of adding additional services following questions brought forth by Councilman Thomas Kinlaw III.

“I put this on (the agenda) because I have some concerns,” Kinlaw said. “We have a wrecker service that wants to do business here in the City of Port Arthur. If we have a wrecker service that wants to do business and can’t do business…my opinion personally as a councilmember is that they have the opportunity to do that.

“These individuals are wanting to make money in the city. If they are putting in the proper documentation, the proper insurance, the proper storage facility, that you have to inspect…if they have all those things in line, I don’t see why they don’t do business in Port Arthur, because we need them.”

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PAPD Lieutenant Chis Segler said the current ordinance requires a new wrecker service to provide certain documentation in an application packet in order to be permitted to work in city limits.

“Once that packet is received and then reviewed, a recommendation is then forwarded to the city secretary and legal to be put onto the agenda, permitting them,” Segler said. “Part of the recommendation that I have to look at is their history. Whether it holds any weight when it comes before council or not, I cannot answer. But the procedure is, once all the documentation is received by me, it is put together and I put a recommendation letter that ultimately will go to public hearing, which is set forth by the city secretary’s office in conjunction with the legal department.”

Questions were also raised regarding administrative fees paid by wrecker services during the application process. Segler said he deposits the check, made to the City of Port Arthur, when he presents the information to City Hall. Because the check is non-refundable, it is occasionally held in the event of a situation that could prevent permitting the company.

“We recently had one where the individual had several violations and there was a complaint that had come in during the pendency of the application process,” Segler said. “I informed him while I was investigating this that I was holding the check in order to clarify and clear it up… I would be remiss if I just overlooked it.”

Segler said permits are good for two years before they must be renewed, and vehicles have to be inspected each year. Also, wrecker services are required to maintain a storage facility or wrecker yard.

There are 13 wrecker services on rotation in Port Arthur. The limit is 17.

“Whatever the deficiencies we have stumbled on in this process, we’re going to fix,” said Police Chief Tim Duriso. “And they’re on my shoulders, not Lieutenant Segler’s.