Radnor Township commissioners will no longer charge out-of-town motorists involved in traffic accidents for police services, but stopped short of offering to give back the money that they have collected so far.
Saying the plan was "an idea whose time has not yet come," Commission president Hank Mahoney proposed at a board meeting tonight the repeal of an ordinance authorizing Cost Recovery Corp. of Ohio to bill insurance companies for the time that police spent investigating traffic accidents involving non-residents.
All the commissioners said they supported ending the unpopular and controversial ordinance. It was enacted last April to minimize an expected tax increase but brought nothing but bad publicity to the affluent Delaware County township. Although Cost Recovery Corp. said reimbursements would come through insurance companies, motorists said Radnor police and CRC told them they had to pay the bills when the insurance companies refused.
The commissioners said they never meant to have individuals pay the bills. They had hoped that they could recoup the cost of police services at large accident scenes from insurance companies. Instead, drivers were hit up for bills in the hundreds of dollars.
"Obviously, this ordinance was not functioning the way this board intended," said Mahoney, though he defended the law as "legally sound."
Commissioner William Spingler said that Radnor collected $40,000 and that the township solicitor was investigating whether it should be returned. That prompted Commissioner Dave Cannan to propose that the board authorize an immediate refund.
"My gut feeling is these people need to be paid back," he said, but he failed to get the support of the rest of the board.
Several people spoke out against the ordinance, including Radnor resident Sara Pilling, who said she tells her three adult children, who live in another town, to travel through Lower Merion to reach her house.
"It was an extremely poor matter of judgment and I'm really sorry you did it," she told the board.
The ordinance repeal will be voted on at the board's Feb. 26 meeting.