‘Borough Bias’ is hurting the wallets of small businesses
by Andrew Pavia
Feb 27, 2013 | 851 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio with Vishnu Mahadeo and small business owners in Richmond Hill.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio with Vishnu Mahadeo and small business owners in Richmond Hill.
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Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is calling out the city for their “Borough Bias” against small business owners.

A recent report released by his office reveals New York City has increased the amount of fines on small business. According to the report, revenue from fines on small businesses in 2002 was $12.6 million, whereas in 2012 it was $66.2 million.

De Blasio said he was “stonewalled” when he tried to get information about the fines being levied on small businesses.

“I had to actually sue the mayor to get this information,” de Blasio said at a press conference in Richmond Hill on Monday. “This should be publicly available.”

De Blasio also said the report shows a clear pattern of over-enforcement in the outer boroughs. Fines increased in the outer boroughs at the same time they decreased in Manhattan.

From 2002 to 2012, inspections of small business in Manhattan decreased by 14 percent, but increased by 2 percent in Queens and 4 percent in Brooklyn.

De Blasio also said that many of the fines are outdates and unreasonable.

“The truth is we found all sorts of arbitrary judgments,” he said.

For example, the owner of a barbershop, which had been in operation for over 40 years, received a fine because he was not handing out receipts, even though no one ever asked for a receipt.

“We have been getting complaints from several of our businesses,” said Vishnu Mahadeo, executive director of the Richmond Hill Economic Development. According to the report, Richmond Hill was one of the most targeted neighborhoods by inspectors. “Especially businesses that are selling minority products.”

Andy Jareandhan, owner of Fresh Point Market, said he was in fear of losing his business because of the fines.

“It seems that we are being brought down a dark alley, not knowing exactly what the rules are,” he said, noting that one fine he received was for $3,000. “We’re a small business and we are not always available to attend the hearings, so we accept the default judgment hoping that it is within reason.”

Bloomberg dismissed the report, saying if fines were issued they were probably justified.

“Fines are very different than taxes,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said last week at an event on Rikers Island when asked about the report. “You can't avoid taxes, fines are easy to avoid - just don't do what we are trying to prevent you from doing and you won't have a problem.”

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