Though not extensive, the restaurant grade system in New York City will be slightly tweaked in order to impact businesses less heavily. The letters will not be going away so a consumer will still know what the city thinks is a clean place and what is not as clean. The changes will affect fines that are given to restaurants during inspections.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito says the fines will be much more controlled and consistent. It is projected to reduce the amount of money New York City takes in from restaurants paying the fine by up to 25 percent annually. She states that the changes show that relief from heavy fees is possible by the city. Mark-Viverito continues to state that restaurants will be treated fairly without fear of compromising the purpose of the examinations and keeping the public safe from contaminated foods.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has satisfied one of his campaign pledges to equalize treatment of small business owners. the fine change was focused on New York City’s less prominent business owners who are heavily penalized for infractions in the health code. de Blasio and Mark-Viverito are political friends and have worked together on the bill to ensure its passing. The mayor was inspired by speaking to small businesses about their problems and unfair treatment was one the major complains. He made it his mission to better support smaller New York City businesses.
The grading system implemented in 2010 by then Mayor Micheal Bloomberg and slated to be changed will maintain it’s most outwardly visible aspect of a letter grade outside of the business. Just like school, the grades are based on the A through F scale where most restaurants who score anything less than a C tend to post that their grade is pending. The frequency of these inspections shall also remain the same. Another change is the lack of a retesting fee though some critic this as being a rather loose system. This allows for business owners to quickly fix the issue and get the highest grade for their restaurants.
New York City restaurant grade and fine appeals fluctuated depending on the judge overseeing the case. The previously common hundreds of dollar fluctuations in fines will be much more controlled and normalized. This will allow the restaurant to appropriately prepare for a violation’s fine instead of hoping the good will of the judge who may have personal feeling about the violation or restaurant will result in a low fine.
New York City Health Commissioner Mary Bassett also commented on the changes. The changes will allow for a more transparent system as well as be much more fair to all restaurants in the city. The changes to the city’s food inspection over the years since it’s creation in 2010 has steadily increased the amount of fines paid either due to changes in fines applied or number of fines issued over time. The first year the program was implemented, New York City gained over $32 million and is projected to return to that level from the all time high of $52 million.
by Andy Diaz