Diplomats Exempt from Congestion Fee

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has tried to hold the line on loopholes in his congestion pricing plan. But, one group of people he's already agreed to exempt from the fee are foreign representatives to the United Nations and their almost 3,000 cars.

WNYC's Matthew Schuerman reports.

The federal government says New York won't qualify for a $354 million grant unless diplomats get off the hook.

Jonathan Bing, the state Assemblyman representing Manhattan's East Side, says that's unfair, especially given that the legislation would also reinstate the city parking garage tax for residents south of 60th street.

BING: The residents will have to be paying potentially as much as $100 more a more a month to live in the 40s and 50s, and the diplomats will not have to pay anything else. Diplomats don't have to pay taxes in another country.

REPORTER: And while Bloomberg portrays his proposal as a user fee instead of a tax, the U.S. embassy in London would beg to differ. It has so far refused to pay half a million dollars for that city's congestion charges.

For WNYC, I'm Matthew Schuerman.

The state legislature has until Monday to approve congestion pricing in order to qualify for a federal grant.