The FDNY's plan to start charging drivers who get into accidents is, how do we say this, not so popular in the City Council. Yesterday Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano went before the council at a budget hearing and was, pardon us, raked over the coals for the plan. Councilman Vincent Ignizio (R-S.I.) was particularly incensed over the idea calling it an accident tax that he hoped would be "dead on arrival."
Cassano doesn't seem to be too thrilled with the prospect but, well, he has to balance his budget and right now the cash-strapped department needs to cut $22.9 million. The plan to charge drivers, starting in July, $490 for crashes or fires with injuries, $365 for crashes without injures and $415 for car fires with no injuries would, in theory, cover $1 million of that deficit.
In the meantime, Peter Vallone (D-Queens) has introduced a bill that would ban fees like the ones planned, which is interesting since the FDNY initially went with the fee system since it wouldn't require Council approval. Though the FDNY argues that these fees are becoming more common around the nation, council members counter that the places that charge for accidents don't also have income taxes like we do.
And the insurance companies that the FDNY says will likely be footing most of these bills anyway? Yeah, they aren't so much interested in that.
Meanwhile, other ways the department is looking to save money aren't really popular either. A plan to close 20 fire companies over night in order to save $15 million, in particular. The News quotes Cassano as saying "I'll consider any revenue-generating proposals before I close a fire company." Mmhmm. Also, considering 70% of of fire fatalities occur at night, which Cassano acknowledges, doesn't closing those companies at night seem a little, uh, risky?