Harrison County supervisors are raising concerns about the group which oversees the taxi cab industry. A resolution dealing with that regulatory commission sparked some lively discussion at Monday morning's board meeting.
The Harrison County Motor Vehicle for Hire Commission was created in 2010 to bring some uniformity to taxi cab regulations. It oversees some 23 cab companies and more than 110 drivers with things like driver background checks and vehicle inspections. But the biggest issue for supervisors, involves taxes and fees.
"We've been in this commission going on three years. And we have done everything but turn cartwheels to try and make this commission work," Commission Chairman, Dr. Michael Tatum told the supervisors.
Chairman Tatum defended his group's work regulating taxi cabs in Harrison County. But not all county supervisors are convinced.
"It just has not performed. It wasn't to create a whole other tax and put a burden on an industry," said Supervisor Windy Swetman.
Taxes or fees required by the commission are what prompted taxi drivers to stage a protest earlier this year.
The commission chairman says those who complain the loudest, are unwilling to compromise.
"I know they're disgruntled. They're disgruntled by things they never come to the table willing to work with us. They try to find ways to make this thing not work. The legislature passed a bill to establish us. We are only trying our very best to regulate," said Chairman Tatum.
"I'm not in favor of a tax on an industry. And that's what we've done. And it's been a pretty high tax on the industry. If you want to go into that industry, it cost around a thousand dollars up front, just with fees, a tax," said Supervisor Swetman.
The former commission chairman says taxi drivers first supported a passenger surcharge to cover the $50/month fee required by the commission, but then balked.
"The commission put it on for a public hearing. And then these same five people, who are constantly opposed to whatever the commission does, said they've changed their minds, they think that's a bad idea," Rick Quinn explained.
"Right now, it looks like we're either extending this and trying to fix it. Or it dies and we have nothing. That's my point," said Supervisor William Martin.
In the end, supervisors tabled the issue until January 14th. Along with voicing concerns about the fees, Supervisor Swetman said he'd like to see the commission consolidate its services. For instance, he suggested the group may be able to use county garages for the taxi cab inspections.
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