Thursday, January 24, 2019

Rochester, N.Y. — The most recent meeting of Limousine, Bus, Taxi Operators of Upstate New York (LBTOUNY) was held February 25. In addition to showcasing a few buses from sponsor Empire Bus Sales, the evening meeting hosted a three-person panel and had the roughly 25 members in attendance discussing topics such as state taxes and the association’s first-ever Day on the Hill.

The increasing burden of state taxes is a hot issue for Upstate New York operators. LBTOUNY has spent nearly two years pushing its bill to get the state sales tax eliminated, an effort that had previously met with success in the Senate but stalled out in the House, according to LBTOUNY President Kevin Barwell of Giorgio’s Limousine Service.

LBTOUNY “We still have our bill in the House with Senator Schimminger and we’re going back to the Senate, where we’re hoping to get Senator Robach to sponsor that bill,” Barwell said. “The fight’s going to start again, and we’re looking for assistance from everybody who has helped us in the past.”

Members also addressed a new state tax that had come to LBTOUNY’s attention shortly before the meeting, which pertains to any automobile with a gross vehicle weight ratio exceeding 26,000 pounds. Barwell says that the association will “need to get the full details” on the proposed tax that would go into effect next year, but is concerned about another cost being passed along to New York State taxpayers.

“We do a lot of senior work with our coaches, and these seniors do not have that additional income,” he said. “They’re not going to be able to do their trips anymore with that loss of revenue. We’re very concerned.”

The meeting also hosted a new-trends panel comprising Mark Crisafulli from Haylor, Freyer & Coon, Rob Maloney from Empire Bus, and Dave Bastian from Towne Livery, and was moderated by Barwell.

“They talked to members about what people are looking for, and they also discussed new problems for vehicles now, and what the best warranties are,” said Barwell. “Everybody learned a lot, so it was definitely worthwhile to have those three members—one from bus, one from car, and one from insurance—talking about new things that are affecting the industry right now.”

While TNCs are still a passionately discussed topic among LBTOUNY members, Barwell says that the association is “staying the course” in that fight. “Our goal is to educate others and to focus on fair legislation for everybody,” he said. “We’re not opposed to TNCs operating in this area, we’re opposed to them operating illegally. I don’t think they understand that.”

Local concerns rounded out the meeting. One of LBTOUNY’s committees has been meeting with area wineries to foster a relationship between them and the association, ensuring that its operators are following wine trails’ rules and policies. Disregarding established protocol is grounds for being banned from the wine trails.

LBTOUNY is also planning its first Day on the Hill in Albany, tentatively scheduled for May 20, which Barwell hopes will become an annual event.

“We’re going to open it to all the operators in the state, and we hope to get some of the other associations up here,” he said. “I think it’s been too long since the state heard our voice. They don’t really know who we are but we want to change that.”

The next LBTOUNY meeting is planned for April 22 in Syracuse.

Visit lbtony.com for more information.

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