Taxi drivers voice concerns to Harrison County supervisors

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Frustrated taxi drivers are pleading with Harrison County supervisors for help. They say excess taxes and fees are driving them out of business. And this isn't the first time they've spoken out.

Taxi drivers say, enough already. Monday, they told county supervisors, no other business must endure such excessive taxes and fees.

"We're paying $200 business permit fee, $50 inspection fee, $125 driver permit fee, $600 annual car tax fee, for a total of $975," Lisa Leisy told the board. She represents the Gulf Coast Taxi Association.

Drivers say since the taxi cab commission was created three years ago, their fees for driving a cab have jumped more than 3,000 percent. This marks the third time in four months they've taken their complaints to the supervisors.

"These fees are astronomical. It was taxation without representation. And we want to work with the board of supervisors to come to a happy medium," said taxi driver Jack Gazzo.

Some drivers would like to see supervisors do away with the Harrison County Motor Vehicle for Hire commission. But it isn't that easy.

"We've got to have a commission. Otherwise, it falls back on the cities.  And then you've got multi jurisdictions doing different things," said Board Attorney Tim Holleman.

The most contested fee is a $50 per month, per cab charge which helps fund the commission. Supervisors agreed to at least temporarily cut that by more than half.

"Set the per cab fee at $20 per month until we can sit down and get something worked out for a set fee," said supervisor, Kim Savant.

"We're going to continue working with them, we're going to get this worked out, but we're not going to stand by and pay an increase in taxation and fees that no other businesses pay in this county, city or state," said taxi driver Louis Copeland.

Supervisors promised to schedule a workshop in the next two weeks to discuss the drivers' concerns in detail.

The Harrison County Motor Vehicle for Hire Commission was created by the legislature in 2010. Prior to that, the individual cities were responsible for regulating the taxi cab industry in Harrison County.

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