NEW YORK CITY — City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn announced a new restaurant fining system that could result in a $10 million reduction in fines.
The agreement with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will also standardize the price of each violation.
Under the current system, a violation could cost anywhere between $200 and $2,000, and the actual amount was up to the hearing officer.
In order to eliminate this element of surprise, fines will now be standardized. Low-level violations will cost restaurants $200, while more serious offenses, like operating without a permit, will fetch $1,000.
Quinn, standing outside the Blaue Gans restaurant in TriBeCa, said creating a more standardized system will relieve the burden on small restaurants without hurting the city budget.
“It’s not in the long-term interests of the city to put businesses out of business,” Quinn said.
The $10 million reduction in fine revenue would represent a drop in the city’s $69 billion budget, Quinn noted. The fines, designed to get restaurants to comply to health and safety standards, were never meant to generate revenue, she said.
Quinn said she is confident that the reduction in fines won’t result in sloppier standards.
“I have no fear that it’ll be less of a deterrent,” said Quinn. “The point isn’t to let restaurants acting lawlessly to act lawlessly,” she added.
The council will also introduce a series of five bills designed improve the restaurant inspection system on Aug. 22.