DeKALB – Two DeKalb-based limousine companies are concerned that the city’s proposed ordinances on livery will increase the cost of doing business here.
“It’s not right. We’re already double-taxed,” said Paul Uplinger, co-owner of Blue Sky Limousine, in regard to how limo companies are regulated by both the state and the City of Chicago. “I really don’t know what the city of DeKalb wants to do.”
Under a proposed ordinance that could be voted on by the City Council at its July 23 meeting, limo services would be regulated in the same manner as taxicab companies. Some of those regulations include being licensed by the city, being required to carry
at least $500,000 in insurance, and maintaining a record of their customers that the city can inspect.
City Attorney Dean Frieders said the city’s taxi ordinances needed to be re-evaluated. He said the city staff had surveyed communities similar to DeKalb and found that they had also regulated liveries as well.
“The relationship you have with either a taxicab or livery service is an important one, and you’re really putting your safety in the hands of the driver that’s operating the vehicle,” Frieders said. He added that the same issues that come up with taxis could also apply to limos as well.
James Mitchell, owner of Home James Inc. Limos and Buses, said he also doesn’t understand why liveries will be regulated with taxicabs, as they are on completely different levels.
“We are all pre-arranged runs ... we’re two different entities,” Mitchell said. “We’re kind of the same, but not really the same.”
Mitchell said the state already requires liveries to have $350,000 in insurance coverage as well as biannual inspections. He said the city’s proposed requirements would make it more expensive for his business.
“We don’t really serve the public,” Mitchell said, referring to the ordinance on keeping a driver manifest the city can inspect. “We serve private individuals. ... They don’t want people to know what their movements are. It isn’t anyone’s business.”
There are a number of vehicles not covered by this new ordinance. Vehicles from Northern Illinois University and other public entities are exempt, as well as any vehicle operated by the Voluntary Action Center.
But so are “drunk buses” that are operated by local bars, like Molly’s and Starbusters. These buses will take customers from their place to the establishment.
Mitchell said he didn’t understand why those buses were not included. He estimated that the buses “haul more people in a night than I will in six months.”
“I think it’s a great idea to have these drunk buses. It’s a wonderful thing,” Mitchell said. “But, if you’re going to regulate everybody, why not regulate them as well?”
Frieders said the buses do provide an important service, and that imposing additional regulations when there have been no reported problems could discourage bars from offering the buses.
Frieders did note that the bars with buses also have liquor licenses with the city.
“If there were issues with the operation of those buses by a licensed establishment,” Frieders said, “I think the city would have some very strong ability to compel changes in those behaviors and address those concerns.”