As the Boise City Council prepares to craft a Fiscal Year 2015 budget, lawmakers are also proposing a slew of new fees. In fact, there are nearly 200 fees--covering everything from using the Boise Depot to securing one of the city's many electrical and plumbing permits--that are either new or could see more than a 5 percent increase.
But two fees in particular may test the already-sensitive relationship between City Hall and taxi drivers.
Currently, there are a whopping 86 taxi companies operating in Boise, but only 164 vehicles rolling through the streets. Simply put, Boise has a glut of one-car companies.
Those one-vehicle businesses might want to take note of a newly proposed $150 annual fee to operate a taxi company in Boise. That's in addition to a $36 fee (a proposed 4.3 percent increase) for each vehicle. In order to put a new taxi on the streets, there's a $190 one-time fee (a 3.5 percent increase). Inspections would cost $84 (a 4.3 percent jump), and if a vehicle needs to be re-inspected for some reason, the bill would run $164 (a 4.4 percent increase). Additionally, each vehicle requires a meter seal, which is $39.
City officials insist there's a good reason for the new $150 business fee, in addition to the per-vehicle charges.
"A couple of years ago we instituted a requirement that taxis need to accept credit cards for payment. But we've had some issues where that was not being administered properly," said Council President Maryanne Jordan. "It's tough to pinpoint where the problems are, but the reality is that the problem lies at the company level."
If a taxi company remains in good standing (no violations) for the year, the $150 annual fee would be waived for the next year. The city clerk's office had initially proposed that the fee be charged each year; but after meeting with Jordan, a compromise was reached to waive the fee in the second year (and any subsequent year) for good performers.
"But if there are violations, it will be incumbent on the company to remedy the situation and then have to pay a $150 license fee for the following year," Jordan told Boise Weekly. "There's an imperative to do things properly."
As for whether Boise has too many cab companies, Jordan thinks consumers will have the final say.
"It's a market-driven question," she said. "On a Wednesday afternoon, there may be too many and on a Friday night, there might not be enough. Taxis are a component of public transportation, but they have to be self-sustaining."