Board mulling changes to city’s taxi ordinance

VICKSBURG — The Public Transportation Board is working on 20 proposed changes to Vicksbirg’s taxi ordinance.

Board chairman Jim Stirgus Jr. tells the Vicksburg Post the plan is to bring all vehicles for hire under one ordinance. He said the board would consider the changes on Feb. 12.

The current ordinance defines only taxis and limousines as vehicles for hire, requiring the owners to register their vehicles and drivers. Owners must have $75,000 in insurance coverage for injury or death and $150,000 for each accident and for damage to property.

Shuttle services were not included in the present ordinance.

“It changes the meaning of ‘vehicle for hire’ to include taxis, shuttles and limousines. It puts everything under one umbrella and requires everyone to follow the same rules,” Stirgus said of the proposed change

Deputy city clerk John Carroll said the city has one shuttle service in compliance with the law, “Pick Me Up” Shuttle Taxi Service.

Another proposal would authorize the police department to perform background checks and approve applicants for taxi driver permits.

“We don’t have the resources to check someone’s background,” Stirgus said. “The police have the resources to do it and do it well. I don’t feel comfortable making that decision.”

Currently, the transportation board investigates backgrounds and approves people for taxi driver permits. The amendment shifts that responsibility to the police department. If an application is denied, Stirgus said, the police will have to tell the board why.

Police Chief Walter Armstrong said he already is doing driver permit background checks for the board, but his authority to deny applications was not defined in the ordinance.

“What I asked the board for is more autonomy to deny applications for people with an extensive criminal background,” he said.

Any ordinance changes would be approved by the mayor and Board of Aldermen.

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