City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has reached an agreement with the Department of Health that could cut the amount restaurants are fined for health violations by $10 million a year. Up until now, under the system instituted by Mayor Bloomberg in 2010, all fines were up to the discretion of a hearing officer, and could range anywhere from $200 to $2,000 even for small infractions. Now under Quinn's plan, specific fine amounts will be attached to each violation, and 60 percent of those will be set at the minimum of $200. The fines for many of the most common violations will drop by 15 to 50 percent from the current average.
The agreement is the result of a legislative package that Quinn proposed last month, and also includes a provision to waive all fines for any restaurant whose point total is less than 14. And if restaurants can prove that they were not cited in the past for certain structural violations, like a misplaced sink, that fine will also be waived. Overall the plan should reduce the total fines collected by the city to pre-letter-grade levels, but the New York Post reports that Quinn is still backing further legislation to help restaurant owners avoid more fines in the first place.