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Port Chester Taxi Drivers Wait To Be Heard

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- Taxi drivers and company owners showed up in force to speak at the public hearing on the extension of their licenses at the Board of Trustees meeting Monday, but the hearing had to be rescheduled due to an error by the clerk's office.

Notices sent out by the clerk's office gave an incorrect address for the meeting, so the board motioned to adjourn the hearing and hold it at their next meeting August 1. No decision was made on the extension of taxi licenses, which are due to expire August 30.

The board is currently reviewing whether or not to transfer licensing of taxi cabs from the village to the Westchester County Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). Taxi drivers and company owners are unanimously opposed to the proposal.

"Why are we the guinea pigs for Westchester County?" said Stephen Neilsen, owner of Luso Taxi and president of the Port Chester Taxi Driver Association.

Neilsen and other taxi companies don't want licensing to go to the TLC because it will lift the 75-car cap and open up Port Chester to competition from other TLC-licensed taxis.

"Our medallions [taxi licenses]) are worth $25-30 thousand," said Pedro Goyburu, owner of R.C. Taxi. "If the TLC takes over they will be worth zero."

The medallion's value is secured by the cap and without it, drivers will no longer need to go to taxi company owners to get one when they can get a cheaper license from the TLC.

Mayor Dennis Pilla, who was not present at Monday's meeting, supports the proposal, and commissioned a private consultant to evaluate the viability of transferring licensing to the TLC. The consultant has favored the proposal, though taxi drivers are skeptical of the report.

Goyburu said an earlier report had been commissioned with members of the community that found the proposal unneccessary, though a copy of the report was not available at the time of publishing.

Goyburu and other drivers and company owners feel they are being targeted in a deal that will benefit the TLC.

"These drivers live here, they have families here, they pay taxes here," said Neilsen. "The TLC will put them out of business."

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