City Council Asked to Crack Down on Rogue Taxis

Jacob Resneck/KMXT

The Kodiak City Council is considering further criminalizing so-called "gypsy" cabs – that’s unlicensed taxi services in the community. During Tuesday evening’s work session the city heard from licensed cab drivers who complained that fly-by-night operations are depriving licensed cab drivers of their livelihood and the city of its revenue.

The city is in the midst of overhauling its taxi ordinance and fine-tuning licensing requirements. During discussions, the council heard testimony that catching unlicensed drivers involves the same level of police resources as a narcotics sting. And as the current law sets a maximum fine of $300, there’s apparently little to deter scofflaws.

Councilman Tom Walters said he’d be in favor of making unlicensed taxi operations a misdemeanor offense that could include the threat of jail time. City staff were directed to revisit the ordinance and come back with proposals at a later meeting.

In other business, the city may put its lobbying services out to bid. Renewal with its Juneau lobbyists, Capitol Associates, expires in June. The firm has asked for renewal of its annual $30,000 contract which does not include expenses.

But city Councilwoman Pat Branson questioned the firm’s performance and suggested the contract be put out for bid. She likened the firm’s reports to the city as reading a month-old newspaper and said the lobbyists don’t work closely enough with the community’s state delegation. The council directed the city manager to begin drafting a request for proposal with the understanding it wasn’t ruling out renewing its contract with Capitol Associates.

In other action, Councilman John Whiddon has been appointed to serve as the city’s representative to the ad-hoc Public Library Building Committee. The committee is steering the city library’s capital project to construct a new library on Signal Hill. Branson said she would serve as an alternate.

The city council is next scheduled to meet in a special meeting Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the borough assembly chambers. It will be carried live here on KMXT.


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