BY MICHAEL CAHILL
With the green light from New York State, Rockland County is ready to move ahead with creating a central licensing authority for taxi and livery drivers. But some people are concerned about the details.
Currently, towns and municipalities in Rockland are permitted by state law to issue their own licenses for taxis, and most do.
Municipalities, like the Village of Haverstraw, have agreed to give up their licensing powers and defer to the future countywide authority. However the Village of Spring Valley, has said they will keep their own system of taxi regulation even as the county moves forward with its program.
Attendees at a press conference last week at the Haverstraw Village Hall, many of them taxi and livery drivers, were not happy about the future possibility of needing two permits, one from the county and one from Spring Valley.
Village of Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin stands firm though, that the village will be keeping their system of taxi regulation. “We will continue with the program that we’ve had for a number of years here,” said Jasmin.
“We’re going to try and work with them (Spring Valley) in a way that tries to please everyone,” said Rockland County Legislator Ilan Schoenberger at last week’s press conference. “We’re not out to hurt anyone or any village, we’re just trying to protect the public and the integrity of the drivers.”
Mainly, said Jasmin, she is concerned about the effectiveness of a future countywide system and prefers to keep the system that Spring Valley has now, which she says is working.
In Spring Valley the village regulates and issues licenses for taxis. Drivers and companies can expect to pay $75 dollars a year for a license, in addition to their insurance costs. Spring Valley also limits the number of taxis that can operate in the village to 300.
However not everyone is pleased with the current system. Jean Andre and Frantz Bernier own La Familia Taxi, one of the largest taxi companies in Spring Valley. They say they are not getting enough from the village for all the fees it extracts.
An influx of private vehicles operating as taxicabs without proper village permits, is undercutting their business. These private taxis charge less, and do not adhere to any village safety standards. Jasmin said that taxi safety is a primary concern for the village, and the problem of unlicensed taxis is something they are working on.
“They don’t know what they’re doing,” said Andre, referring to the village, “they’re not in control of the taxis.”
Andre and Bernier are also concerned about the future central taxi licensing authority in Rockland County, namely how will it be formed, who will be charge of it, and what powers it will have. “How are they going to do it?” asked Bernier, “One person cannot control everything, it needs to be democratic.”
“We want to invite state Senator Carlucci to sit down with all the taxi owners and figure this out,” said Andre.
According to Schoenberger at last week’s press conference, public hearings will take place as the county works out specifics of the future law creating the authority, and it will be inviting all input. “It’s in formation now, nothing’s been decided yet,” said Schoenberger.