Taxi drivers face possible changes

By: Daniela Fierro Email
By: Daniela Fierro Email

LAREDO, TEXAS (KGNS) -- Monday night, the Laredo City Council considered some possible changes to the permitting process for taxi drivers on city streets.

An ordinance that was tabled by council members yesterday would restrict permit holders from selling their licenses.

Under current rules, taxi permits have sold between drivers for thousands of dollars, and current owners that paid that price want a chance to someday cash out themselves.

The City of Laredo has 80 taxi licenses in circulation.

It costs $100 to buy a taxi permit, the city says.

But that opportunity has come for few people, and the market value of those permits, some say, is out of control.

Arnulfo Valdez has had a taxi permit for nearly three years, he bought his after driving for a man who was getting ready to retire.

Now Valdez has a business with his name on it.

But before that, came an investment.

Kristina Laura Hale is working on a proposed revision at the city attorney's office.

She says the current system is out of control.

Attorney Nelly Vielma is the daughter of Valdez.

She's representing some taxi drivers and says permits can't simply be taken away by the city manager.

She says the business and brand that a driver builds during their career would be lost with the new rules.

Hale says the city needs to have the say about what happens on its streets.

Drivers who work under a permit holder say they want to buy permits, and permit holders say they're happy with their purchase.

Vielma says the current ordinance in place already gives the city manager's office discretion to deny any sale or transfer that comes up.

Hale says the ordinance they're working on would restrict all transfers of permits, except for when the permit holder dies.

And that would only be transferable to a spouse or child.

Although the ordinance was tabled this week, hale says it should reappear in a council meeting set for June.

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