Colby Hamilton, Writer, WNYC News
Colby Hamilton is a general assignment reporter. He originally joined WNYC as a political blogger. He's a proud graduate of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
Last week, the Bloomberg administration released some of their own budget figures. The city had been bracing for a $4.6 billion budget gap, but the Mayor's office reported that they'd revised the gap down to $2 billion.
Nearly half of that reduction is attributed to taxi medallion sales that are far from guaranteed. While bills have passed the legislature supporting the sales, Governor Cuomo has not signed the law, which has come underintense criticism since landing on the Governor's desk.
Now, critics are saying the Mayor's financial assumptions don't add up. "With all due respect to the Mayor, his livery street hail bill has become a failed budget gimmick that won’t work,"said Robert Familant with the Taxicab Service Association. "[T]he Mayor is trying to bootstrap his budget on a house of cards that will not only imperil tens of thousands of jobs in the private sector but is hinging the city budget on phantom revenues."
Familant pointed to the relatively high cost of owning a medallion as even more prohibitive should the much cheaper street hail permits become available through the plan the Mayor wants Governor Cuomo to sign into law.
"Who in their right mind would pay $1 million or more for a medallion when under the Mayor’s plan, they could lease a street hail permit for only $1500," Familant asked.
A request for a response has been sent over to the Mayor's office. If and when they get back to me, I'll update the post.
The Mayor's office sent over this statement from Micah Lasher, the Mayor's Director of State Legislative Affairs:
Perhaps Mr. Familant and other lobbyists for the large medallion lenders didn't read the bill: street hail permits would not allow pickups in the areas where yellow taxis make more than 95% of their revenue. Instead, the bill would legalize service in the many neighborhoods across the City that the yellow taxi industry ignores. That's why medallion prices have continued to skyrocket. Enormous profits for lenders and owners will not be threatened by our legislation.