“Small businesses cannot create jobs and put New Yorkers back to work if the City keeps issuing fines for every violation under the sun—and then forces owners to spend hours downtown contesting fines in person,” said Mr. de Blasio. “Right now, small businesses desperately need more commonsense enforcement and a less burdensome way of contesting fines.”
As candidates for the 2013 mayor’s race make their pitches to labor, almost to a person they try to attract small business support by harping on what they say are overly burdensome regulations and too heavy fines. It is a targeted plea of course, since most New Yorkers who don’t own small businesses don’t want to see say, health inspectors be any less stringent.
That said, most of Mr. de Blasio’s recommendations are unlikely to raise too many hackles–they include such suggestions like modernizing the hearing process so that business owners would no longer need to contest fines at in-person hearings in lower Manhattan and giving businesses an opportunity to fix certain first-time, low risk violations before incurring an immediate fine.
Mr. de Blasio’s office notes that they received complaints from small businesses that received fines for minor violations such as incorrectly displaying a license number, failing to post a return policy next to each register, and printing incomplete store information on receipts. And, they say that in each case, it was the first time the business was cited for the specific violation, with fines ranging from $200 to over $1,000. Business owners had the choice of paying the fine, or leaving their stores to contest the violation in person at a hearing downtown. The Department of Consumer Affairs, Mr. de Blasio notes, expects to collect an unprecedented $10.6 million from fines during the current fiscal year—a 45% increase since 2009.
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