Business

City Council Moves To Eliminate ‘Gotcha System’ Of Restaurant Inspections

A restaurant grade is seen at an establishment in Chelsea - New York, NY - Jan 19, 2011 (credit: Paul Murnane / WCBS 880)

A restaurant grade is seen at an establishment in Chelsea. (file/credit: Paul Murnane/WCBS 880)

CBS New York (con't)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Members of the New York City Council on Friday announced changes to the restaurant inspection system.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said Friday that the changes will reduce the burden on restaurant owners.

City Councilman Vincent Gentile said under the current system, the fines vary greatly depending on the judge.

“It’s no longer a gotcha system,” he said.

Fines will go down overall, but the city will maintain the letter grading system implemented by former mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2010.

Health commissioner Mary Bassett said too many businesses were being jeopardized by excessive fines.

“Balancing fairness to these small business owners who are the lifeblood of our city while at the same time maintaining safety standards,” she said.

Mark-Viverito says the changes will add consistency to fines given out during inspections.

“The enforcement is not changing,” said Bassett. “There will now be fixed schedule of fines.”

The changes are expected to yield a 25 percent drop in overall revenues created by fines, which translates to about $10 million a year.

“Letter grading was never intended to be a revenue generator for the city of New York,” said Mark-Viverito.

The move fulfills a campaign promise made by Mayor Bill de Blasio, a close ally of the speaker.

Many restaurant owners had complained that the fines were too stringent.

The changes are expected to be implemented this summer.

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