Drivers who have their cars towed during snow emergencies in St. Paul will have to pay more to get their vehicles back.

On Wednesday, the St. Paul City Council raised the impound fees by $70, from $202 to $272 once the mayor signs off on the change.

The city tows illegally parked vehicles to two impound lots that it operates, one near the State Fairgrounds and one in the 800 block of Channel Road. Drivers are also issued a $56 parking citation and must pay $15 for each day the vehicle remains in the impound lot. By the time administrative fees and taxes are added, the final bill could exceed $300 under the new fee schedule.

"The City Council … finds that the following towing charges are necessary to clear roads of illegally parked vehicles during snow emergencies," the resolution says. "Clearing the roads … serves the legitimate public purpose of allowing city forces to accomplish snowplowing, thereby providing clear, passable and safe streets."

By comparison, the towing fee in Minneapolis is $138. Drivers are assessed an additional $18 for each day their vehicle is kept in the city's impound lot.

The move in St. Paul comes as the city worked to clean up streets after recent snowfalls. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the city conducted a "voluntary" plow operation on residential streets. It was not an official snow emergency, so vehicles parked on those streets were not ticketed or towed. But the city asked residents to voluntarily move their vehicles to allow plows to remove snow and break up some of the ice pack.

Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768