Council loosens regulations on incoming taxi companies
Delaware city officials compromised last week on plans to revise the city's taxi code, eliminating one regulation and retaining another.
At its meeting Monday, Nov. 26, Delaware City Council voted 6-0 to eliminate the city's ability to regulate taxi rates, but preserved a rule requiring cab companies to notify the city before changing rates.
The latter rule was relaxed, however. Companies now must submit notification of rate changes one week before changing them, compared with a 30-day waiting period previous-ly.
Councilman Andrew Brush fought hard to eliminate both regulations, arguing that companies and customers would fare best in a free market driven by competition, but ultimately yielded because a majority of council members disagreed.
"This is a major philosophical difference, but I'm not going to pick this as my hill to die on," he said. "I'm willing to make that compromise."
Mayor Gary Milner said some regulations are necessary to protect residents and visitors who rely on taxi services.
Milner has argued that cab drivers shouldn't be free to hike their rates on a whim, perhaps based on personal prejudices or other unpredictable factors.
"When someone needs a cab and they have no other way to get where they need to go, and the cab shows up and gives them a new rate, they don't have time to call and see if someone else is cheaper," Milner said.
"I understand the libertarian stance, but I'm more interested in protecting Delaware residents who want to use this service and may not have the means to afford whatever price is given to them."
The taxi code was under new scrutiny after the Delaware Cab Co. ceased operations in September, prompting other providers to consider moving into the city.
Also at last week's meeting, council heard a first reading of a proposed budget for 2013. A second reading is set for the Dec. 10 meeting, with adoption scheduled for Dec. 27.
The city projects revenues of about $16.64 million, about $1,000 more than anticipated expenditures.
The city's reserve fund will stand at about $4.55 million.
New construction and an increase in anticipated income tax revenue will help balance the budget despite reductions to state funding and the phasing out of the inheritance tax, said City Manager Tom Homan.
"We have those revenue issues, but I certainly feel that the budget establishes the same level of service we currently provide," he said.
Some details are yet to be worked out, such as how much to earmark for road repairs next year. Homan said an extra $300,000 to $350,000 might be available for additional street resurfacing in 2013.
Finding a long-term solution to funding road repairs will be a priority in 2013, Homan said.
Also at the Nov. 26 meeting, council approved a permit for the Little Brown Jug to use a storage building at 224 E. William St.
The vacant building sits on a 1.48-acre plot and previously was used to store petroleum tanks.