Short-Handed Passenger Vehicles for Hire Board Has To Cancel Meeting Dealing With Possible Higher Taxi Charges

  • Thursday, October 6, 2022

The short-handed Passenger Vehicles for Hire Board on Thursday had to cancel its meeting when it could not get a quorum on a day with a number of taxi operators wanting to discuss the ability to charge riders more.

The seven-member board currently just has four members appointed, and it takes all four for a quorum.

Four appointees are by the mayor and three by the City Council (District 1, 2 3 and 4, 5, 6 and 7, 8 and 9). The seat named by Districts 7, 8 and 9 is currently vacant. Two mayoral appointments have gone unfilled.

Some of the current members have gone far past their terms. Chair Sandra Gurgone was appointed during the Littlefield administration.

At the 3:30 p.m. session, members waited for Otis Moorer, who had indicated on Wednesday that he would be there. He could not be reached on the phone. Other board members were concerned, saying he is normally at the meetings.

The three members did hear some presentations, though they made it clear they could take no action.

They heard from Jonathan Easter of Nooga Taxi, who has been leading the charge on a price increase, saying gas prices have gone up over 120 percent. Mr. Easter said he has gotten no response from the mayor's office or the City Council - other than a note from Councilwoman Jenny Hill thanking him for the information.

The taxi operators were advised by the taxi supervisor to join together with a chart of proposed rate increases they could agree on in order to best make their case.

Attorney Melinda Foster of the city attorney's office said the latest increase was in 2015. Current allowable charges are a $2.50 activation fee, 20 cents per 1/10 mile, and 20 cents per minute waiting.

She said the main competitors for the taxis - Uber and Lyft - are not regulated by cities under state law.

The board heard from operators of Black Oak Carriage, which has applied for an operating certificate. The city currently has two other horse and carriage operators, and Black Oak's Clair Davis formerly worked for one of them.

She said the firm wants to remain small and concentrate on business partnerships, such as taking guests to specific dining spots.

The next meeting will be Nov. 3 at 3:30 p.m.



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