NYC Budget & Our Rate Increase
So, here we are. Election Day is over and Pataki
is still Governor. Did the multibillion dollar projected deficit in
the New York City and New York State budgets influence New Yorker's
votes in Albany? Did it affect your voting strategy? Probably not. New
York State is going have a rough time financially, with a deficit almost
twice as bad as the five billion dollar hole New York City finds itself
in this coming year.
Yorkers elected Mayor Bloomberg over Alan Hevasi, Mark Green and Freddy
Ferrer because New Yorkers felt that "We need a successful businessman
to straighten out this city's projected financial deficit." Now
we are faced with serious questions. Will there be cuts in the Police
Department, causing a crime rise? Will Firefighters be laid-off, posing
a safety threat? Will our children suffer as a result of education cut?
we cannot finance the future. We have learned from the mistakes of
the 70's. Let me remind you what happened then. A control board came into
being and immediately fired twenty percent of the cops, fired twenty percent
of the firefighters, fired twenty percent of the teachers, closed three
hospitals and did a hideous thing called deficit financing. Ten percent
of our current deficit is a direct result of what happened in the 1970's.
This city still pays five or six hundred million dollars of our sales
tax to pay off the bonds that were issued in the financially hard times
of the1970's. Deficit financing does not work!
from taxes based on stock sale profits are virtually gone. Tens of thousands
of jobs have vanished, with them the taxes on salaries and the taxes on
goods that would have been purchased with those salaries.
instead of reducing city services, New Yorkers just want to maintain the
status quo, which has been pretty hard to do since 9/11. It is especially
difficult when the city is spending more than it is earning. That is really
the problem in a nutshell. The result is our deficit.
We are all concerned about this city's future. At this time it looks as
though projections of revenues coming into the city coffers are lower
for the second half of the fiscal year ending June 2003.
city's budget is mostly people. Sanitation, Police, Fire, Education,
and Corrections are responsible for eleven billion dollars out of the
fourteen billion dollar budget. The size of these agencies must be
reduced by attrition. Mayor Bloomberg has already postponed the next graduating
class of firefighters. Ninety-five percent of the budget for the NYPD
is being spent on salaries, overtime and things of that sort. Adjusting
schedules to save the city overtime money is part of the solution too.
By the way, crime is still going down in all areas in New York City. We
must learn to do more with less. Firing people is a last resort when all
else has failed.
a final budget note, it should be very interesting to watch the MTA (Metropolitan
Transit Authority) ask for more money from the city when there is no money.
The City subsidizes mass transit as does the federal government and state,
or at least they have until now. Will there be a fare increase for the New
York City buses and trains? You can bet your bottom dollar that there will
be an increase in transit fares. Unlike the New York City regulated yellow
taxi industry, the MTA uses a combination of fare income and taxpayer money
for purchasing new equipment, maintenance, and paying high salaries to upper
management. We have to survive on whatever the passenger gives us, period.
We deserve more money and should have received a fare increase last December.
I guess the thirty percent increases on costs incurred on our vehicles since
the last increase ó gasoline increases, maintenance increases, insurance
increases ó just don't count when speaking to deaf ears. We will just have
to wait it out. In 1990 and 1996 the MTA raised fares and we received fare
increases shortly thereafter. We will probably win our rate of fare increase
by default, not because expenses have gone up drastically.
We also have a very big problem in the fiscal year 2004-2005. Mayor Bloomberg
will ask all city agencies, including the TLC, for another 7.5% reduction
in spending. These are all parts of the solution. Steps must be taken
now by every agency to reduce expenditures.
Having the 2012 Olympics in New York City can be an amazing economic boost
prior to the Olympics. Just the construction jobs alone are equal
to 100,000 man-years! Most tourists now staying at hotels in New York
City are Americans. But, according to statistics, foreign tourists spend
four times what U.S. visitors spend. Also, although the hotels are full,
the rates being paid is at a very low level. So once again, having the
Olympics in New York City will help the Hotel business, retail businesses
and the taxi business. Capital projects for the Olympics are pretty
much all done with private monies.
Tolling bridges that are free today is just one of a number of alternatives
for more city income. It will be Mayor Bloomberg's job to convince the
New York City Council and Albany that tolls are warranted on East River
crossings due to the City's financial situation. I wrote a rather lengthy
article some months ago recalling the history of trying to toll the East
River Bridges under the Koch administration. A long list of problems including
traffic and pollution was enough to prevent tolls being initiated at that
time. The installation of tollbooths could only result in a negative environment.
Welcome to the twenty first century. We no longer need toll booths. There
is something called speedy pass which is a version of EZ-Pass. Speedy
Pass does NOT require toll booths at all, only a large scanning device
that can driven under at any speed without interruption of your drive.
The Mayor will be presenting a plan to buy EZ or Speedy passes at numerous
locations including local stores. Of course it's still a nightmare for
those of us who drive for a living. The TLC will have to grant round trip
tolls for all fares to the outer boroughs.
Speaking of outer boroughs, I think there should also be an "over
the meter charge" or surcharge to leave Manhattan NOW! Instead
of initiating plans that would financially encourage drivers to drive
fares to the outer boroughs, the TLC inspectors wait on the Manhattan
bound side of Tillary Street asking drivers to go back into Brooklyn,
and hitting them with refusal summonses! This type of "entrapment
thinking" must cease if we want to nurture career dirvers in the
yellow taxi industry. Summonses, summonses, and summonses is all I hear
lately, and frankly I am sick of it. Sorry, I got side-tracked. Let's
get back to the city.
The THRU STREET saga is just beginning. I have received dozens of phone
calls from outraged drivers with tons of legitimate complaints: Passengers
get out in traffic on the first block of a THRU street only to have the
driver waste thirty minutes driving to the end of the THRU Street. THRU
Streets take up to four times as long to go west-bound. Summonses are
issued for double parking while picking up or dropping off passengers
on THRU Streets. Thanks to Chairman Matthew Daus, I was able to make recommendations
for the DOT (Department of Traffic) regarding THRU Streets and other traffic
problems. Most of the recommendations came from YOU! Keep calling me,
keep writing me, keep e-mailing me and when you see me, keep talking to
me about bettering our dear taxi industry. Mayor Bloomberg has stated
that he will try to get the kinks out of the THRU Streets and will fine-tune
it with our recommendations.
Isn't it sad when the New York City economy is at its worst in thirty years,
yet only an increase in subway and bus fares will raise taxi fares? Maybe
it also has something to do with another bright note for the future: The
sale of more New York City Taxi Medallions, which is included in the Mayor's
proposed budget for next year. Election day is over, and here we are
the same as beforeÖ
will it be wor$e ?
Meets with Cab Drivers
To Discuss Industry Issues
for story, click on the pic!
SURVEY TO MEASURE EFFECTIVENESS OF
"CELEBRITY TALKING TAXI" PROGRAM
The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission
(TLC) today announced the launch of a survey on its web site
(www.nyc.gov/taxi) to gauge the effectiveness of the "Celebrity
Talking Taxi" program. The "Celebrity Talking Taxi"
program, which involved celebrity audio reminder messages to encourage
taxicab passengers to buckle their seat belts, take their belongings and
to get a receipt from their driver, was launched on August 1, 1997.
personnel will also be taking the survey to the streets of the city, to
seek the input of those New York City taxicab riders and visitors who
may not have access to the Internet.
"The 'Celebrity Talking Taxi' program was created to enhance public
safety," said TLC Commissioner/Chair Matthew W. Daus. "While
the TLC, in conjunction with the Mayor's Office of Operations, undertook
a survey of taxicab riders to gauge the program's effectiveness in 1998,
the conclusions it drew are somewhat dated today. We believe it
would be prudent to take a fresh look at the program's effectiveness so
that we can either make the necessary modifications, or discontinue
the program in favor of another approach to reach our goal of enhanced
Those without access to the TLC's web site at www.nyc.gov/taxi may make
their opinions known by calling the agency's Customer Service Hotline
at 212 NYC TAXI.