The Kinnelon Council could vote Thursday to approve a seized vehicle impound lot behind the borough municipal building where Kinnelon police can store vehicles taken after being involved in crimes.
The council discussed the lot after hearing from Kinnelon Police Chief John Finkle at the Oct. 11 work session meeting. Finkle told the council the lot would be used to store the vehicles, as well as some police department equipment currently stored behind the police department and taking up parking spaces that could be used for the municipal building. He said the lot is a necessity.
"I need this lot for the storage of these vehicles," Finkle said.
If approved, the lot would be located in the lower parking lot behind the Kinnelon Municipal Building and have 32 parking spaces plus two additional, indoor spaces. The covered spaces, Finkle said, would be used for vehicles involved in more serious crimes, such as a homicides, where it is crucial that evidence not be tampered with. After two years and a succesful application with the Morris County Prosecutor's Office, the police department takes ownership of seized vehicles that do not have liens on them and is able to use them for training purposes or to auction them off.
Finkle also said the lot could be used, as a secondary function if the borough chooses, as a way for the borough to gain revenue.
"What the town may want to do is actually create that to be an impound yard," Finkle said. "Instead of a vehicle going to a tow truck company, it would go to our facility and the borough would retain that money."
Vehicles that could be towed to the impound yard that are not seized, Finkle said, are vehicles that were towed from car accidents, DWI arrests, unregistered vehicle arrests and other motor vehicle stops. Finkle presented information to the council about how many vehicles were towed over the past year, including how many were towed for accidents as opposed to those that were towed for motor vehicle infractions, for which the tow company has made revenue. This year so far, 62 vehicles were towed after the owners were issued summonses out of 71 total vehicles towed.
Kinnelon CFO Donna Mollineaux said at the meeting that the Kinnelon tow yard could be appealing to other, neighboring municipalities as well.
"If there are other towns looking for this, now we would have a shared service," she said.
If the council decided to proceed, Mollineaux said the impound lot would become a part of the borough's budget.
"We'd have to budget the money for towing expenses," she said.
Other costs would also be associated with maintaining the yard, including Department of Public Works employees shoveling. However, Mollineaux said another New Jersey municipality that implemented a tow yard was able to bring in about $16,000 per year.
Finkle said that for police purposes the lot for seized vehicles is needed. He recommended the council begin with the lot for police seizures and then conduct a study to determine whether towing vehicles to Kinnelon would be beneficial. The council will further discuss the lot at the Kinnelon Council meeting Thursday at 8 p.m.