Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bellevue takes on gypsy taxicabs

Express Staff Writer

A squabble between former co-workers at A-O Taxi Co. has led the city of Bellevue to require business licenses for taxi drivers.

The city may soon require background checks also.

Rich Hardy—the owner of A-O, which does business as Wood River Taxi—submitted a letter to Bellevue City Council claiming that one of his former employees had been operating a gypsy cab in Bellevue since being fired from A-O a year and a half ago. The letter was read during a council meeting on Thursday, Dec. 10.

Hardy alleged that his former employee is transporting passengers out of his private vehicle between Bellevue and Hailey without paying the $300-per-month commercial vehicle insurance required by the state of Idaho for taxi drivers.

"He has cost us a lot of business over the last year and a half," Hardy said in an interview. "It's frustrating for a lot of us who are paying through the nose."

Hailey and Ketchum already require business licenses and commercial insurance from taxis, but Bellevue has no such requirement.

"If it's illegal, it's illegal," said Councilman Shaun Mahoney, who joined other council members in a unanimous decision to require business licenses for taxi drivers.

However, Mahoney expressed concern that increasing regulation of taxis in Bellevue could discourage them from working in the city.

"We rely on them," he said.

City Planning Director Craig Eckles was instructed to contact all local taxi companies and draw up ordinance changes to reflect the council's decision.

The council has not decided on the cost of a taxi license in Bellevue.

Ketchum taxi license permits cost $260 year and $30 per year per vehicle. A Ketchum license can also be used to operate in Hailey.

In other Bellevue news:

· Mahoney reported that the Labor Day Parade lost $2,500 this summer, while the Halloween Haunted Forest brought in $6,000.

Tony Evans:

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