The New York City Council is scheduled to approve 2 bills today that will lessen the degree of fines imposed on small businesses. This is a major revamping of penalties for the Council; reportedly the biggest one in its history.
1. Temporary Amnesty Program
Sponsored by Councilman Mark Gjonaj (D, Bronx), the first bill aims to offer a 75% discount on all unpaid code violations that restaurants were on or after March 7th of last year at the direction of the Department of Finance. Any violations up to 8 years prior to that date will be granted a 25% discount without any accrued interest or late fees. Its projected start date is yet to be confirmed, but the program is reported to begin at the start of July in the new fiscal year. It will run for 90 days with the possibility of being extended for the same length.
2. Civil-penalty Relief
Sponsored by Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson (D, Bronx), the second bill aims to bring up to date 185 varied code violations, including sanitation and noise-control. These updates will take the form of decreasing penalties, warnings instead of fines for first offenses, and the institution of cure periods. While this bill will cost the city millions, it is a vital development for keeping small businesses afloat as the harsh fines they were historically faced with largely threatened their economic well-being. Small businesses have long been fighting for these improvements, especially the establishment of cure periods and warnings; these changes will allow businesses the room to make necessary changes before facing financial punishment.
Both bills are reported to have Mayor Bill de Blasio’s backing as well as the support of the New York City Hospitality Alliance.
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