Amsterdam’s taxi cab “problem” is being way overblown


You know, the number of pizza places in Amsterdam is starting to get out of hand isn’t it? We need a law to protect our businesses that places a limit on the number of pizza restaurants that can operate in the city. And while we’re at it, let’s limit the number of web design companies, newspapers, barber shops, hardware stores, and convenience stores too. Sound like a good idea?

No. The answer is no. It’s not a good idea. And neither is placing a limit on the number taxi cab companies. But yet, a resolution that will do just that is on the agenda for the Common Council to vote on this Tuesday.

Large cities, like New York City, have found it necessary to limit the number of actual taxi cab vehicles. We’ve all seen pictures of mobs of New York City taxi cabs filling the streets. Whether that regulation is necessary or not is debatable, but at its the heart, the intent is to limit the number of vehicles for the public good.

But we are not New York City. Taxi cabs are not clogging our streets. Our city’s laws allow the council to pass a resolution that limits the number the vehicles that are licensed if needed. However, the resolution on the agenda doesn’t limit the number of vehicles, it would limit the number of actual companies to five. Is that even legal?

A couple weeks ago, the council, along with Police Chief Greg Culick, heard from Madeline Samson of the taxi cab company Yellow Transportation who claimed there were 11 taxi cab companies operating in the city. She complained to the council, saying that number was too many. She also questioned whether some cab companies that are based outside Montgomery County were paying their sales tax. The council and chief seemed to buy into her statements.

Turns out, according to the city clerk’s office and the Amsterdam Police Department, there are only six cab companies legally registered to operate within the city. So the idea that the cab companies are sprouting up like weeds is not correct.

Two of the six companies are registered with Fulton County addresses. However, I believe it was wrong for Samson to question whether those companies were paying the appropriate sales tax to Montgomery County without presenting any proof. It’s potentially slanderous, and it was wrong for council members to express agreement with her statement.

Just to be clear, any business in New York State that provides taxable products or services is required by state law to remit collected sales tax to the counties where that product or service is delivered. The state provides a single form that allows businesses to indicate the amount of taxes owed to each county. It would be incorrect to assume that just because a business is based in Fulton County that they aren’t paying sales tax to Montgomery County.

The best way to help Amsterdam businesses is to help them to become more competitive. Limiting the competition for them is protectionism and does the city no good whatsoever. There is no justifiable reason to place a regulation on the number of taxi companies. Let the free market work as it should.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.