Public Advocate Bill de Blasio says that budget revenue from fines on businesses has nearly doubled over the past decade to $850 million, and he is suing the city to gain access to records of the fines.
"Fines have been increasing for so long it’s become de facto City policy," de Blasio said on Wednesday, according to Gothamist. "We need answers about what this ‘fine-first, ask questions later’ enforcement is doing to our small businesses and their ability to survive in this economy."
The New York Times says that in May, de Blasio asked for data on fines issued from six city agencies since 2002, with a response requested by June 1. De Blasio told the paper that two of the agencies, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Consumer Affairs, had told his office they were working on a response, while the other four – the Transportation Department, the Sanitation Department, the Buildings Department and the Finance Department – did not respond to his request at all.
Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for the mayor, told the Times that the city is working on compiling the data, and that the majority of the increased revenue came from motorist tickets, as well as efforts “to make the city safer and cleaner,” like restaurant cleanliness citations.
Leslie Brown, of the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, said that she's heard many complaints from businesses — in particular restaurants — about the emergence of crippling fines.
"Some of the restaurants feel they could be put out of business by these hefty fines," Brown said. She noted that the restaurants in particular have felt targeted since the introduction of
"They can't really fight these fines, and then if they correct [the problem] it doesn't get listed on a website or anything. They're very upset."
Are you a business owner in Forest Hills who's been hit hard? Share your experience in the comments.