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Southampton postpones Uber-inspired taxi fee changes

Southampton Town Councilman Stan Glinka speaks during a

Southampton Town Councilman Stan Glinka speaks during a public hearing about legislation he wrote of proposed rules to regulate Uber cab services, during a Southampton Town Board meeting in Southampton, March 22, 2016. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Revised registration fees included in an amendment to Southampton Town’s taxi law that makes Uber, limousines and livery cars adhere to the same local licensing requirements as cabs will not be implemented this year.

Councilman Stan Glinka, who proposed the amendment that was passed by the board on April 12, said in a telephone interview Wednesday that local officials are willing to “see how it [the new registration mandate] plays out” before making any fee adjustments.

Glinka said one of the goals of the legislation was to make sure Uber drivers had to pay fees to operate as do local taxis, following complaints Uber drivers were taking away their business without being required to register with the town.

Because Uber drivers have been registering since the law was passed, Glinka said he is satisfied for now that the new fee structure can wait and not be “rushed.” He said more discussion among officials is needed and that under consideration is lowering fees for companies that would have several vehicles to register.

Glinka said about seven or eight Uber drivers have registered and are paying the existing fees, “which leads us to believe these Uber guys are following the new rules and regulations,” he said.

The councilman said the decision was made to delay changing the fees during a roundtable discussion Tuesday about the fee issue with town attorney James M. Burke, town clerk Sundy A. Schermeyer and town Comptroller Leonard J. Marchese.

“We laid out the pros and cons of everything and decided not to do anything this year,” Glinka said. “We’ll be doing something as of January 1st.”

The local taxi law requires cab companies to register with the town, pay annual fees and have employees undergo fingerprinting and background checks.

Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang has said town officials just wanted to amend the existing law to find a way to protect local cabbies from competition from the popular app-based international ride-hailing service.

Anfang could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

Fees are $750 for taxi owners to obtain a town license, $150 for each vehicle and $100 per driver. Drivers with only one cab, as is the case with Uber drivers who work for the company but drive their own cars, pay a flat annual fee of $1,000.

“Right now everybody’s paying what everybody else is paying,” and there have been no complaints, Glinka said.

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