By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
If the borough council is going to make any changes to its taxi ordinance, it’s going to make sure they are the right ones, Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna said Monday night, when a scheduled adoption of the amended ordinance was tabled.
The delay comes two weeks after the council proposed changes to its ordinance that would place tighter controls on cab owners and operators, some of whom are believed to be hording licenses in an effort to tamp down competition. But since the ideas were brought forward, the council has received a deluge of comments and critiques from those in the business, and the council is listening.
“If we’re going to make changes to the ordinance, they should be the best possible changes,” Menna said.
So rather than hold a public hearing on the ordinance, also scheduled for Monday night, Menna invited the dozen or so cabbies to write their contact information down so they could meet with council members and borough administrators to hash out any changes.
Up for discussion are an increase to the number of licenses and changes to the fees, which are proposed to run on a scale from $150 to $1,000, depending on how many licenses a company wants. Menna also wants to tighten up insurance regulations, more than likely by third party verification, to ensure a car is properly insured at all times. He also wants to see operation reports on a monthly basis, he said, to ensure cars that are licensed are actually in use.
But to make sure his ideas gel with what local drivers see as fair, Menna said he’s intent on gaining as much input from them as possible to get the ordinance right, and not place unfair controls or “draconian penalties” on the cab community.
“We are going to be having focused discussions with the community affected by it,” he said.
He and the council have already heard mouthfuls from Peter Muller, who runs P&M Taxi. Muller, who only has one car in Red Bank, says there are larger companies in town that are pocketing licenses and keeping smaller companies like his from putting more cars on the road. Muller’s wife, Mary, also made her case for change.
“Sometimes we get three calls for 7 o’clock. We can’t do it,” she said. “We could put two more cars on the road. We’re being blocked.”
As a result, the Mullers say they’re losing money something they can’t do much longer.
“If this is prolonged, we’re going to leave to go to another township,” Mary Muller said.
Menna said the council would move expeditiously on the ordinance changes.
“I just think it’s important that we meet with everybody at the table,” he said.
In other news from the council meeting:
- The new ‘No Knock’ ordinance is now in effect in Red Bank. Anybody wishing to be put on the list, which prohibits salespeople and peddlers from visiting your home at certain hours, may do so on the borough website. Sign ups can happen at borough hall, too.
- Councilwoman Sharon Lee is looking to start a booster club for the borough’s recreation sports. There’s a high demand for athletics, she said, and money is getting tight.
“To better serve them, we need more hands,” she said. “We really need the parents to get out there and participate.”
Anybody interested may contact Lee, Councilwoman Juanita Lewis or rec director Memone Paden Crystian.