City mulls next step after taxi company closes
Delaware may use opportunity to update taxi regulations
Since the Delaware Cab Co. ceased operations in September, city officials have been debating the best way to court taxi services for residents.
At their meeting Monday, Oct. 29, Delaware City Council members discussed the need for new regulations on cab services and heard from Columbus-based Acme Taxi, which may be interested in moving into Delaware.
City Attorney Darren Shulman said revisions to the city's current regulations would make it easier to obtain a taxi service license in Delaware, but he also suggested an evaluation procedure that would help the city screen companies.
For example, applicants would be scored higher if they could provide fair rates and their own lot to park their cabs.
The city also would limit the number of licensed companies operating in Delaware under Shulman's proposal.
Councilman Andrew Brush questioned the need for those regulations. He said licenses should be provided to any companies that comply with the city's basic code.
"I don't think we should be editorializing about who provides the best service. I think we should leave that to the market," Brush said. "I advocate the least amount of regulation possible here.
"If we have five cab companies and one of them emerges as a market leader, that's just the way the market should work," he said.
Michael Goldsbury, president of Acme Taxi, said other cities, including Columbus, have licensing limits in effect to help make taxi services sustainable.
"If the market gets flooded, the drivers can't make any money," he said. "There's been a moratorium in Columbus since 1990 that's been successful in creating a market where you can make money and people can survive.
"If you have someone who wants to invest in a cab company in this smaller town, they want some assurance they won't have to fight with 10 other companies for the business that's there," he added.
Goldsbury also said he might be interested in expanding his Acme Taxi operation to provide 24-hour cab service in Delaware.
He asked council to convene a committee to determine the needs of the city.
He also recommended regulations for cleanliness and vehicle maintenance to keep riders safe. Council members said lack of maintenance on old cabs has been a problem in the past in Delaware.
Council members also debated the level of insurance coverage cabs should be required to hold in Delaware, with Shulman recommending a reduction of the current $1-million policy requirement.
There was no vote on the suggested revisions to the city's taxi code. Council members will hear a third reading of the proposals their Nov. 12 meeting.
The Delaware Cab Co. ceased operation after 116 years of business because of financial difficulties, city spokesman Lee Yoakum said. The family-owned business was founded in 1896.
Also at last week's meeting, council voted formally to take control of Oak Grove Cemetery after the committee that had controlled operations since 1906 voted to dissolve last month, also citing financial troubles.
Council voted 7-0 to appropriate funds to continue cemetery maintenance in 2012. At least three of the cemetery's four current maintenance employees will be retained, city Finance Director Dean Stelzer said.