GLOVERSVILLE - The Common Council is eyeing changes to city codes after hearing from two business owners.
Joseph Lander of Express Taxi & Chauffeur Services and Jake Spraker of Glove City Taxi recently discussed with the council how city codes affect their businesses.
Lander said the city Police Department is supposed to inspect the taxis once a month to make sure the cars have working lights and adequate tires, but often it doesn't happen.
"I don't believe this ordinance is necessary at this time," Lander said. "Both Glove City Taxi and Express Taxi have our own repair shops and those shops are equipped just as well as any garage you can take your car to. It is to our advantage to keep the cars maintained."
He said keeping the vehicles maintained reduces the risk of accidents and improves gas mileage.
"I personally believe our cars are maintained better than most people's personal cars," Lander said. "I mean whatever they need, they get and that increases our bottom line."
Both said if any driver or customer complains about a car, the taxi services take it off the road and immediately address the problem before returning the vehicle to service.
The taxi services proposed the code be removed to improve their business and to eliminate any liability the city could have if the inspections aren't completed monthly.
"I believe this ordinance is a burden to the police department and I believe it is a burden to us also," Lander said. "It takes a lot of time to go through all of this when the officers can be out fighting crime and other things that are more pertinent. The fees associated with these inspections would be a financial burden to our company and in this day and age it comes down to the bottom line, and I think these fees are excessive."
However, members of the council and Police Chief Donald VanDeusen said it is in the best interest of the city and its residents if the inspections are changed to a semi-annual basis, meaning they will be conducted twice a year.
Spraker said at the meeting in the 15 years he has run the taxi service, the police have inspected his taxis about 10 times and none ever found a problem.
VanDeusen said he can't be responsible for what the department has not done in the past, but assured the cab owners and city officials that his department will complete the assigned inspections regularly in the future.
The council scheduled a public hearing to be held at the next meeting for the proposed change to the City Code to be amended from monthly inspections to a semi-annual inspection by the city Police Department. After the public hearing, the council may look to amend the City Code.
The council decided the new rates that would be charged to the taxi services for the semi-annual inspection would be $20 per taxi and in the event a taxi fails an inspection, the second inspection would only cost $10.
Lander also brought up another clause in the City Code that refers to the rates the cab services can charge to provide local services to customers.
The existing code sets the rate at $4 for any local call within the city.
However, the taxi service was told by a prior city administration it could charge $6 and that is the rate it has been using, City Clerk Susan Semione said.
Lander said considering the price of gas and the city being at least 3 miles wide, it leaves no room to have a profitable business.
Lander told the council that neither of the cab services are taking advantage of customers with their current rates, but they can't be restricted when the cost to provide the service is constantly rising.
"I would ask that you eliminate this section or at least increase the rate. In the end, the buyer dictates the rate anyways; you're only going to get what somebody is willing to pay," Lander said.
Many of the council members agreed limiting the rate a cab service can charge is unreasonable and decided it could be eliminated from the city code.
"We don't tell restaurants how much they can charge for a meal, so why should we tell you how much you can charge for taxi service?" Fourth Ward Councilwomen Ellen Anadio asked.
However, a public hearing is necessary before the code can be removed. The hearing was set for the next Common Council meeting in April. After the public hearing, the council may look to remove that portion of the city code.
Levi Pascher covers Gloversville news. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.