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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -
The Leeds City Attorney says that the state will reimburse towing expenses for drivers who were towed in the area during this week's winter storm.
Mayor David Miller shared on FOX6 News that abandoned vehicles blocking the roadway in Leeds would be towed and that drivers would have to pay the towing charges.
Dozens of viewers emailed, tweeted and left comments on Facebook expressing their anger and frustration over the situation.
During Tuesday and Wednesday's severe winter storm, several people had contacted Fox6 to say their vehicles had been towed after leaving their vehicle to seek shelter. Many said they had to pay $125 to get their vehicle returned.
In a phone interview on Fox6 News, Mayor David Miller confirmed the city contracted with two different wrecker services to tow vehicles, but denies that the city charges the fees. Miller says that is the price charged by the tow companies.
According to Miller, the Highway 78 entrance into Leeds was impassable and a secondary route had to be opened through Coosa Avenue. The mayor says vehicles blocking the roadway were towed. The towing companies took the abandoned vehicles back to their yard for storage.
"If a car has to be towed, obviously, the wrecker company has to be paid," said Miller. "It's illegal for a municipality to do that for free. The person whose car is towed, blocking the roadway, has to pay that fee."
Miller says he talked to the mayors of Irondale and Moody about the issue. He says they agreed that Leeds was adopting the proper stance to take by law. He later clarified that the law states a municipality is not allowed to provide a service to private citizens free of charge.
When asked if the cars could just be moved to the side, the mayor says it's not an option.
"There's no way you could tow these cars to the side of the road, because the places where they're being picked up and blocking the road, there is no side to tow them to. If you tow to the side, you're going to be in the ditch," said Miller.
According to the mayor, close to 200 people sheltered in the Leeds Civic Center on Tuesday and several more stayed at the Methodist church.
Mayor Miller noted the wrecker services at Ryan Automotive and Murray's Garage. He says they are centrally located in Leeds. An online search says Ryan Automotive is located at 8236 Parkway Dr, Leeds, AL 35094 and can be called at (205) 699-7926. Murray's Garage is located at 1600 9th St, Leeds, AL 35094 and can be reached at (205) 699-6651.