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Published: Wednesday, 7/28/2004

Swanton considers taxi-operator rules


SWANTON - Village officials are looking into regulations for taxi operators after a business owner inquired about providing the service in the community.

Regulations would ensure the safety of people who use the taxi service, said Jon Gochenour, Swanton village administrator.

He doesn't anticipate restrictive rules such as what might be found in large cities, but rather some basic rules, such as making sure that taxi drivers are licensed and insured.

Dale Mattin said he and his wife, Lisa, who own and operate Smiley's Delivery in Swanton, hope to expand their business with taxi service. Smiley's Delivery, which picks up and delivers restaurant orders, groceries, and movie rentals for customers, has been getting calls from people needing rides to and from places such as a doctor's office.

"There is a need out in Swanton," he said.

The Mattins, who live near Liberty Center, haven't set hours of operation. The hours would depend on the need, Mr. Mattin said. Taxi service could be available in a month or two, he said.

Mr. Mattin said that he isn't opposed to regulations that the village might impose but said he doesn't want to get bogged down by restrictions on the books in some cities. "I do not want to be forced to have a dispatcher," he said, such as some cities require. Dispatching, he said, can be done via cell phones as needed.

Mayor Tandy Grubbs said that possible regulations would be discussed with Police Chief Homer Chapa. Chief Chapa said he hasn't been contacted about the service.

Mr. Gochenour said that it hasn't been determined if the village would charge fees. He said that perhaps a taxi's meter would need to be certified by the Fulton County auditor's office.

Randy Ruffer, weights and measures inspector for the auditor, said that he hasn't inspected any taxi meters because there isn't any taxi service based in the county.

He said an operator could go into business without first getting the meter certified. He could stop in and do a random check on the meter after the taxi service is in operation to make sure the meter is working correctly.

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