By Jill Colvin
MANHATTAN — Mayor Michael Bloomberg has dropped his plans for a controversial "crash tax" that would have charged drivers involved in collisions.
Spokesman Jason Post confirmed Thursday that the mayor had abandoned the plan, which had been set to kick in July 1, after City Council Speaker Christine Quinn made "a convincing argument" for why the tax should be dropped.
Under the proposal, motorists would have faced a sliding fee scale depending on the severity of a crash. Motorists would have been charged $365 for any FDNY assistance on incidents that didn't involve fire or injuries. A car that had a fire put out with no injuries would have been billed $415, while a vehicle fire or any other automobile incident involving injuries would have cost motorists $490. The city had hoped to collect $1 million annually from the charges.
"The Fire Department doesn't charge for its response to structural fires, and the Police Department doesn't charge for patrolling a block. Charging for responding to the scene of an accident is a slippery slope, and I don't want to see us begin to go down that road out of a desperate desire to find sources of revenue," Quinn said in a statement.
Queens Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., one of many who had proposed legislation that would bar agencies charged with protecting public safety from charging for their services, agreed, saying that the idea never should have been considered in the first place.
"The city should not charge for public safety services," he said "What would be next? A police charge if your store has been targeted by too many shoplifters?"
He said that he still supports the bill but will decide after the budget season how best to pursue it.
Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano had said that the city had a choice between fees like the tax or more operational cuts.
"In these difficult economic times, the Fire Department can no longer afford to provide such services at no cost to those who require them," the department had said in a statement.
The fire department is still facing other cuts, including a plan to shutter 20 fire companies across the city from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. each night, which would save the city approximately $15 million a year.
The city responded to roughly 14,000 vehicle incidents in the five boroughs last year, according to the FDNY.