NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday his administration will issue fewer violations to small businesses, but a city council proposal could hurt the bottom line.
Schmidt’s Candy on Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven, Queens, established in the 1920s, is one of several small businesses plagued by onerous fines for things like the size of her store sign and not labeling a historic scale.
A week after CBS2’s visit to the shop, de Blasio announced the city is looking at eliminating fines for certain first-time violations and offering a grace period for others.
“But if there are 4,000 possible fines on the books, waving one for $200 and incurring eight others that are on the books,” said Margie Schmidt, owner of Schmidt’s Candy.
Tom Grech with the Queens Chamber of Commerce says it’s a small step forward, but “it’s probably just a drop in the bucket.”
The move comes after the city mandated a $15 minimum wage for all workers and paid sick days.
Now, the council is also considering legislation that would force businesses to provide two weeks paid vacation.
“How can you say you want to help small businesses when your administration does have some of these onerous regulations?” CBS2’s Lisa Rozner asked de Blasio. “And now one business group says that imposing two weeks paid leave is going to make it really hard for them to operate.”
“That’s something that is a bigger need for our whole city, our whole society,” de Blasio said. “It has not passed because we’re still trying to reflect that balance.”
Statistics from the city suggest the number of new businesses opening is down almost 40% from two years ago.
One councilman says only half of businesses make it past five years. Jack Moy, of M.M. Hardware, says he keeps going for his customers and considers these fines his donation to the city.
“Every time we get a ticket, we’re like, that’s it, I’ve had enough of this city,” Moy said. “But yet, we’ll say, that’s OK, we can donate it. We just donate to the city.”
He says he recently was fined $250 for selling a 99-cent Band-Aid because the receipt led customers to believe there was a tax on it.
He hopes the mayor’s announcement is not a Band-Aid fix but a permanent shift for shops.
The mayor claims he’s cut small business fines by over 40% since 2014.