City to reduce some restaurant fines

A Manhattan restaurant rated with a Health Department  'A' grade. Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images
A Manhattan restaurant rated with a Health Department ‘A’ grade.
Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The city will modify the health rating system in an effort to reduce restaurant fines, officials announced Sunday.

Sixty percent of all violations will result in the minimum $200 fine under a package of legislation that will be introduced in City Council Thursday.

“Restaurant letter grading was never supposed to be a way to generate additional fine revenue, especially since the Health Department discovered long ago that higher fines don’t by themselves result in better sanitary conditions,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement.

While restaurant violations now result in fines between $200 and $2,000, under the agreement with City Council, the Department of Health and Mental Hygine specific fine amounts for the first time.

Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said that the letter grading system was established to provide additional incentive to improve food-safety practices.

“At this point, moving to fixed fines will help give the system more predictability,” Farley said.

Council Member Gale Brewer, who chairs the Committee on Governmental Operations, said the new fine system will improve the relationship between restaurants and the city.

“One of the most common complaints we receive from restaurants in regard to the current grading system is that fines are excessive, and vary wildly from inspector to inspector,” Brewer said.

The most commonly-issued violations will have a fine reduction of 15 to 50 percent, officials said.

For general and low-severity violations, such as having five flies in a food preparation area or a sewage disposal in disrepair, the fine will be set at $200.

Fines for more serious violations would also drop, officials said.

Integrity and operation violations—such as operating without a permit or tampering with a closure sign—would result in a set $1,000 fine.

Under the new guidelines, restaurants with violation points of less than 14 on their initial inspection will also not have to pay any fines for that inspection.

The fine reductions are expected to reduce total fines collected by more than $10 million per year.

Kurt Gutenbrunner, owner of TriBeCa’s Blaue Gans restaurant where the new guidelines were announced, was pleased with the upcoming changes.

“This is really exciting for news for restaurateurs as the fines have been so expensive over the last few years,” Gutenbrunner said.

In addition to lowering restaurant fines, the package of legislation also includes a bill to establish an office to investigate concerns over the inspection system. Another bill would allow restaurants to request an ungraded inspection for educational purposes.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Man dies trapped in elevator shaft at Bronx…

A man in his twenties died after being trapped in an elevator shaft of a Bronx building early Monday, police said.

International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

National

New York Times calls for legalization of pot

The New York Times editorial board on Saturday endorsed a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana, becoming the largest paper in the nation to back the idea.

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…

Career

Feeling stuck? Get out of the entry-level job…

Television and movies may be littered with 20-something characters who seem directionless when it comes to their careers, but author Mary Traina says she finds…