Several local businesses routinely express frustration to Sheepshead Bites about the number of fines the city has doled out, whether it be for trash, health inspections or obscure signage regulations. And, according to the complaints we get, it seems inspectors of businesses are unfamiliar with many of the regulations and sometimes apply them inconsistently.
But though it may seem like the city is cracking down and issuing more fines as the city struggles with the economic recession, data on the number of fines given out has been hard to come by.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is trying to fix that. He has announced his plans to sue Mayor Michael Bloomberg and city agencies in order to force them to reveal information regarding the amount of fines given, and the income generated from those fines.
Currently, there are 20 agencies involved in small businesses-related regulations. According to an analysis performed by de Blasio’s office, cited by the New York Times, fines collected by these organizations have jumped from $485 million in the 2002 fiscal year, when Bloomberg was elected, to a whopping $820 million in this past fiscal year.
De Blasio told the paper that he has been pushing six of the offices involved in regulating small businesses to release information about these fines for several months now. He said that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Consumer Affairs told him they were in the process of compiling a response. The Transportation Department, Sanitation Department, Buildings Department and Finance Department failed to reply to his requests.
“We’re just not going to stand for it anymore,” de Blasio told the paper.
Marc LaVorgna, Bloomberg’s spokespman said the city will respond to de Blasio and provide this information soon. He argued that the main source of rise in fines over the past 10 years is driving tickets. The fines have increased for parking tickets and moving violations, while more tickets for running red lights have been distributed, as the city installed more cameras by traffic lights.