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February 13, 2013 09:59 PM

Oversight, Competition Spur Cab Comments

Scrutiny is growing over proposed Taxi Ordinance changes in Sioux Falls.

For the second time in as many months, the city took testimony on Wednesday night on proposed ordinance changes and enforcement that is bringing strong opinions from taxi owners, even pitting some against each other.

“I'm pleading with the city council to help us out. Back us up. Because I feel like you've left me out in the cold,” City-Wide Taxi owner Pat Malfero said.

The changes are based on a survey of neighboring cities’ ordinances. They address cab inspection, licensing, metering, fares and fees. They also clean up ordinance language.

“So that the passenger can see that they are being charged properly, that there would be penalties laid out for violations of the ordinance,” Sioux Falls Legislative/Operations Manager Jim David said.

Cab owners say the real issue lies in city inspections of current policies, not in creating entirely new ones.

“There is really no one in place to carry out, follow through, and make sure these things are being done,” Stellar Limousine owner Tom Olson said.

The talk is also pitting competitors against each other. Fleet companies like those owned by Malfero say individual private cabs are clogging the market and taking away business.

“Adding more people so you can check all these companies isn't the issue. The real issue is that there are just too many companies here in town,” Malfero said.

“I'm just here to help make my wife and child some money. I'm not here trying to steal accounts,” Richard “Rico” Carlson said. He runs the independent company, Rico’s Taxi.

Sioux Falls has 19 registered cab companies. At least six of those were new last year and most of them single contract cabs who have met the city's initial licensing rules.

The ordinance changes fall under the purview of the city's public services committee, which discussed forming a task force to dig deeper into the issues.

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