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Colin Lee, 19, takes seat on West Lafayette City Council

New West Lafayette City Council member Colin Lee is sworn in by Mayor John Dennis (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)
New West Lafayette City Council member Colin Lee is sworn in by Mayor John Dennis (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

Colin Lee joined the West Lafayette City Council on Monday as its newest member.

Lee filled the seat recently vacated by Councilor Ted Hardesty, whose final meeting was in May. He took over the seat, which largely represents Purdue students, from council member Shannon Kang in 2022.

During a brief swearing-in ceremony, West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis nodded to the fact that the district has seen a lot of turnover.

“Life gets in the way,” he said “And sometimes they [councilors] are not in a position to finish out their tenure. They go through a process of trying to make sure they find somebody to act in their stead.”

According to Lee, he was in talks to replace Hardesty in December. A 19-year-old biochemistry major, he is headed into his sophomore year at Purdue. Lee said his age ensures that he can stay in the seat a little longer.

“I think it’s definitely a factor,” he said. “I think it’ll be so we’re not having to change it up so much. I think that’ll be helpful.”

Lee said he hopes to strengthen the relationship between the city and the university.

“I want to help keep West Lafayette and Purdue’s communication strong,” he said.

Lee will finish out Hardesty’s term and then run for reelection in the fall.

Towing ordinance passes 

Local towing companies will earn more money from West Lafayette after the city council passed an amended towing ordinance during its Monday meeting.

Last year, several towing companies said they couldn’t afford to keep providing services to the city. They noted that rates hadn’t been increased in 20 years, and that businesses were operating at a loss.

Councilor Jeff Brown asked how the city could ensure that future rate increases would be updated more quickly.

Council member Nick DeBoer said they looked into a variety of ways to determine payments. But the council required the tow companies to hand over their financial information – which they wouldn’t do.

“I had considered what it would look like to have a mechanism so we could understand the books and needs of these towing companies a little bit better,” he said. “It ended up becoming clear that asking for a private company's financials in such detail would not be wise or likely acceptable.”

According to DeBoer, any future changes to towing rates will have to be run through the council in much the same way.

“That means that when the various towing companies are going to need an increase in fees down the line, they are going to have to make the ask and provide as much information as they can to at least persuade us that they need a higher fee,” he said.

Overall, the fees for basic tows without special equipment are increasing from $85 to $128, with various additional fees for special equipment.