Update: St. Augustine Passes Horse and Carriage Law, 3-2 | Politics

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Update: St. Augustine Passes Horse and Carriage Law, 3-2
Politics
Update: St. Augustine Passes Horse and Carriage Law, 3-2

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A new carriage proposal has passed following a public hearing on the ordinance tonight.

The city-drafted law would control the number of horse-drawn carriages on the streets. 

The St. Augustine City Commission voted 3-2 to pass the bill into law around 7:30 p.m. today; commissioners Bill Leary and Nancy Sykes-Kline were the two dissenting votes.

The sticking point for the commissioners was whether or not to keep the blackout period in the ordinance. As written, carriages cannot operate from 4:30 to 6 p.m. because of traffic issues.

But some of the bed and breakfasts aren't unhappy with that decision, because they have guests who often charter carraiges to get to dinner and other events during that period of time.

The ordinance will require carriage companies to apply for permits or franchise agreements with the city. St. Augustine would only issue a total of 30 permits and limit each company to just 10 permits. 

Each permit would be good for five years.  One company proposed having permits that would last at least 15 years, but commissioners were concerned that having permits that long could create a monopoly.

Permits for individual carriages will cost $1,000 per year. That fee could be higher though, depending on the operator's profits. The city could charge a permitting fee that is 2.5 percent of the carriage's gross profits, if that is more than $1,000.

The city will be able to audit each company's finances to make sure it is accurately reporting profits, and regulate the cost and routes of carriage rides, after a public hearing.   

Companies also proposed that the permits should have a monetary value so they can sell them as part of their businesses, but the city doesn't want the companies to have property rights over the permits. 

"The carriage industry as everyone knows it will still be the same, but I think what it does is level the playing field. It attempts to give us ways of addressing certain issues that maybe at some time in the past we could not have addressed because we did not have the support within the ordinances," said Commissioner Errol Jones.

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