CabbiesIn a show of hands, cab drivers signal their opposition to a proposed increase in the number of taxi licenses.

A proposed ordinance that would have boosted the number of taxi licenses in Red Bank to 55, from 45, was dumped at the curb last night amid questions about how it came up in the first place.

More than a dozen hack drivers and owners turned out for the borough council’s bimonthly meeting to oppose the plan. They said it would dilute their earnings at a time when business is already falling sharply.

“We have so many cars out there, we could probably do with 10 less,” Gary Damanti, owner of the Yellow Cab company, with seven licenses, told the council.

The council unanimously agreed to kill the ordinance, which also would have boosted the annual renewal fee per license to $200, from the current $150.

But at least two members of the governing body were curious about where the idea to increase the number of licenses originated — though neither had raised no such questions when the ordinance was introduced two weeks ago. Cab owners said they only learned about the proposal after it was well on its way toward a possible quiet adoption.

“I found out about this 36 hours ago,” single-license owner Paul Kulha told redbankgreen. “This is my livelihood. Ridiculous.”

“Where does this request come from, and how does it come to us?” asked Councilman Art Murphy.

“I don’t remember workshopping this,” added Councilwoman Grace Cangemi.

Borough administrator Stanley Sickels said he thought the idea for more licenses came from the borough clerk’s office. Clerk Carol Vivona was absent from last night’s meeting.

Two weeks ago, Mayor Pasquale Menna told redbankgreen that an increase in the number of licenses was “traditional” and that, “frankly, there’s a great demand” for taxi service. At the time, he said he expected no opposition from the cabbies.

The idea was quashed after Menna asked for a show of hands from the audience in opposition to the change, which drew numerous raised hands, and found that no one wanted to speak in favor of it.

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