By Shawn Regan
---- — HAVERHILL — Taxi cabs are about to get new rules.
A City Council committee will “completely overhaul” the city’s taxi ordinance in the wake of a recent controversy in which the council shut down one of Haverhill’s two cab companies.
The council voted 6-2 earlier this month to deny a license to American Transportation Taxi Service. The council declined to disclose the primary reasons for the decision, but police said one reason was that the owner of the company, Dean Manemanus, phoned in an anonymous complaint to the city clerk’s office about Family Cab company, the other and now only taxi company in Haverhill.
Councilors and Manemanus’ lawyer said many of the problems were the result of a flawed ordinance.
“Police are overseeing taxi cabs and they’re not even mentioned in the ordinance,” Councilor William Macek said last night. “City Council is mentioned in the ordinance, but we’re not involved at all. We need to completely overhaul the ordinance.”
Macek said the council’s Administration and Finance Committee will rely heavily on input from the Police Department in developing the new rules. There will also be a meeting to solicit comment from the public, he said.
During the council’s debate over American’s Taxi’s license renewal, Manemanus’ lawyer Paul Magliocchetti pointed to several problems with the existing ordinance.
For instance, Magliocchetti said all taxi company licenses are supposed to be renewed on a yearly basis on May 1, but that hasn’t been happening.
“The city hasn’t been enforcing its own rules,” Magliocchetti said in a prior interview. “And there are no rules for conduct and procedures in the ordinance.”
Councilor William Ryan said the new taxi rules should include provisions for training taxi drivers and inspecting cabs.
“We should look at what other cities are doing in their rules to avoid the problems we have had recently,” Ryan said.