Tag Archives: taxi medallions

Mayor’s budget ‘shares the pain’

| brennison@queenscourier.com

The city will rely on pricier school lunches to help take a bite out of a multibillion dollar budget gap looming next year.

New York City faces a $2.5 million deficit next year, and is making mid-year cuts to shore up a $555 million shortfall ahead of the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

This year’s budget was balanced with an expected $635 million to be brought in from taxi medallion sales that a judge subsequently ruled violated the state’s constitution. The city is appealing the ruling.

“We have a budget that is questionable because of some people suing us for their own selfish reasons to stop the taxi medallions,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference on Monday, November 12. “We have great uncertainties out there and we will balance our budget like we have every single year.”

Raising the school lunch price from $1.50 to $2.50 will raise more than $4 million. Other measures to slash the budget gap awaiting the city include: raising parking fees in Manhattan, cutting seats in Out-of-School Time after school programs and cancelling the January 2013 reopening of the Queens Detention Complex, among other measures.

“This issue here is we’re trying to find some balance so that everybody shares a little bit of the pain, everybody contributes,” the mayor said of the budget.

The cuts will not affect the relief effort, the mayor said. The city has already pledged more than $600 million in aid, though it hopes to recoup most of that money from the federal government.

“The things that we have to have come first and we’re not going to cut those services,” Bloomberg said. “These are the services that people depend on, that keep us safe, they keep the city growing, they keep the city investing in the future, we’re going to continue to do that.”

Even after the cuts, a more than $1 billion shortage remains in next year’s budget.

TLC lets liveries pick up passengers

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Livery cabs have received the green light to begin picking up street hails, a decision that has many yellow taxi drivers red in the face.

The decision was passed 7-2 by the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission on Thursday, April 19.

“We’re seeing the birth of a wholly new service today that will allow communities throughout the five boroughs to enjoy and come to rely on the same levels of quality taxi service that are only experienced in portions of Manhattan,” said TLC Commissioner and Chair David Yassky.

Like yellow taxis, the fleet will have a unique color that has yet to be revealed, roof lights and meters.

Six thousand of the 18,000 street hail licenses will begin being sold for $1,500 in June, though a lawsuit filed a day before the vote has requested an injunction.

“The very same city that sold [yellow taxi drivers] the exclusive right to pick up street hails, no longer has the exclusive right,” said Michael Woloz, spokesperson for the

Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, which represents nearly 4,000 yellow medallion taxicabs.

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan, charges that the outer borough street hail plan violates the rights of yellow taxi medallion owners and drivers who paid for the exclusive right to pick up street hails in New York City.

“The over 5,000 individual owner/drivers are not wealthy people,” Woloz said. “These are New Yorkers who have invested in an asset that New York City has protected for the last 75 years. The value of the medallion is going to plummet because of government interference.”

Woloz cited more than $5 billion in outstanding medallion loans and the potential for a housing market-like crash if the value of the medallions declines.

Because the bill was passed by the state Legislature without a “Home Rule” message from the City Council, the lawsuit says the bill is in violation of the state constitution. A

“Home Rule” message indicates the approval of the local legislative body over a policy that only affects that locality.

“State senators from western New York had more say on taxi service in Queens than any City Council members,” Woloz said.

If a judge allows the plan to stand, street hails will only be legal above West 110th Street and East 96th Street and in the four outer boroughs. Liveries that solicit street hails in a prohibited area face the forfeiture of their license.