BEFORE THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
OF THE STATE OF MONTANA
In the matter of the amendment of ARM 17.50.213 and 17.50.216 pertaining to junk vehicles
NOTICE OF AMENDMENT
TO: All Concerned Persons
1. On September 6, 2019, the Department of Environmental Quality published MAR Notice No. 17-407, pertaining to the public hearing on the proposed amendment of the above-stated rules at page 1439 of the 2019 Montana Administrative Register, Issue No. 17.
2. The department has amended ARM 17.50.216 exactly as proposed.
3. The department has amended ARM 17.50.213 as proposed but with the following changes, stricken matter interlined, new matter underlined:
17.50.213 PAYMENT REQUESTS (1) and (2) remain as proposed.
(3) The department shall pay each claim at the flat rate of
$115 $125 per vehicle removed.
(4) through (8) remain as proposed.
4. The department has thoroughly considered the comments received. A summary of the comments received and the department's response is as follows:
COMMENT NO. 1: Several commenters requested that the abandoned vehicle reimbursement be increased to $125 to better align with the costs incurred by towers for removing abandoned vehicles from public highways. These commenters noted that, since the department last increased the reimbursement rate in 2011, operational costs for tow truck operators have increased, including rising minimum wage, oil prices, fuel tax, tires, and insurance premiums. One commenter stated that it costs around $20 per hour for a tow truck driver plus $85 per hour to operate a tow truck. In addition, tow truck operators incur additional costs related to storing the removed abandoned vehicle for the required 45 days, draining the fluids from the vehicle, and re-towing the vehicle to a salvage yard for scrap value. Several commenters stated that the amount of reimbursement from the department, together with the scrap value received from the salvage yard, is often less than the costs incurred by the tow truck operators for providing this public service.
RESPONSE: The department agrees with the commenters and has amended ARM 17.50.213 in accordance with the comments received. Due to inflation and the rising operational costs incurred by tow truck operators, the department has determined that a reimbursement rate of $125 per vehicle removed is more appropriate than the $115 reimbursement rate initially proposed by the department. The department agrees that increases in the cost of doing business for tow truck operators, such as increases in minimum wages, oil prices, fuel, tire prices, and vehicle maintenance justify increasing the reimbursement rate to $125. The department also acknowledges that tow truck operators face increasing costs related to storing removed abandoned vehicles for 45 days, draining fluids, and disposing of the vehicles.
The department acknowledges that tow truck operators work hard to keep Montana highways safe by removing abandoned vehicles in inclement weather and at all hours of day and night. Public safety is enhanced by removing abandoned vehicles, which can be difficult to see and may pose a roadside danger.
The department estimates that increasing the reimbursement payment to $125 from the current reimbursement rate of $100 per abandoned vehicle would provide each tow truck operator on average $36 per year in additional reimbursement payments. Increasing the reimbursement rate to $125 per abandoned vehicle removed would cost the fund a total increase of approximately $10,700 per year. This is $4,280 more than the originally proposed reimbursement rate of $115, which would have cost the fund a total increase of approximately $6,420 per year. Sufficient funds are available in the junk vehicle fund authorized under 15-1-122(2), MCA, to increase the reimbursement amount to $125 per abandoned vehicle removed.
Reviewed by: DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL
/s/ Edward Hayes BY: /s/ Shaun McGrath
EDWARD HAYES SHAUN McGRATH
Rule Reviewer Director
Certified to the Secretary of State November 12, 2019.