Monday, October 1, 2012
Frivolous fines hurting small businesses
From the NY Post:
The city continues to blitz merchants with ridiculous fines — raking in cash for scuffed cutting boards, too-short napkins and failure to recognize the medicinal properties of ChapStick.
“It’s not about protecting the consumer or the food. This is a money racket for the city,” said Declan Morrison, owner of Blackwater Inn in Forest Hills, Queens.
A Health Department inspector recently spent several hours looking for ticket-worthy violations, before spotting five thermometers in the pub’s refrigerator.
“The inspector said, ‘This is way too many thermometers,’ and docked me points,” said Morrison, who also owns the nearby Tap House.
But on paper, the offense read, “Accurate thermometer not provided,” a fine of $300. The charge was later dropped, but Morrison said he has forked over about $20,000 in fines in the past year.
Fines against small businesses are skyrocketing. The cash-strapped city sucked in $820 million last year — compared to $741 million in 2007 and $485 million a decade ago.
Leslie Barnes, owner of London Lennie’s in Queens, said he was fined $300 for having too many marks on his cutting boards. Now he spends $2,000 on backup boards each year.
So the little guys get nickel-and-dimed to death, but the big guys get city property for $1 and subsidies up the yin-yang. Sounds fair.