1. Fines that were previously set at the discretion of the hearing officer, and could cost the restaurant owner up to $2000 will be set at a fixed $200 per violation; 60% of all violations fall into this category
2. most commonly issued violations will be reduced from 15%-50%
3. Food service establishments that receive less than 14 points pursuant to a decision at a tribunal hearing for their initial inspection will not have to pay any fines
4. If a restaurant receives a structural violation and can prove that a structural violation was never cited in any prior inspections, the fines associated with that violation will be waived, however operators will still be required to fix.
5. These reforms if passed will reduce the total fines collected on behalf of the Department of Health (DOHMH) by more than $10 million per year.
The proposed changes are part of a bigger package. The Letter grade system was implemented to increase food safety, reduce food born illness and to give consumers access to information necessary to make informed decisions when choosing a place to eat. The fines associated with compliance should not create an undue burden, nor put restaurants out of business. As City Council Speaker Christine Quinn stated “Letter grading . . . was never designed to nickel-and-dime restaurants out of business, and that’s what’s been happening,”
If the above changes are passed, they may give NYC food service establishments the relief they have been looking for. Will they pass? Stay tuned……