By Martin Romjue
One of the strongest sentiments among industry operatives at the ILCT Show was a growing exasperation with increasingly meddlesome governments at all levels. It seems as if politicians grasping for more tax nickels can’t seem to leave their pudgy, smudgy fingers off the polished limos. Like the fat kid that wants one more cookie-jar treat, the greasy-slippery finger crowd keeps trying to pick the pockets of limousine and chauffeured vehicle operators.
At a summit of regional limousine associations during the ILCT Show, the industry’s leading lobbyist, Barry Lefkowitz, voiced some of these frustrations regarding stringent airport access rules, sales and gas taxes, licensing fees, and ever-creative ways to nickel-and-dime the industry.
Lefkowitz hinted at the root of the political animus that drives the kleptocratic regime-lets: “They think you are rich. Your client may be rich, but you are not. All of you are hardworking small businesspeople.”
NLA figures show that 85 percent of all chauffeured transportation operators in the United States have 1-3 vehicles. 44 percent have less than $250,000 per year in revenues.
Bottom line: Chauffeured transportation becomes an easy political target since politicians (many of whom ride around in black chauffeured SUVs and cars) can evoke the shopworn hysteria of class warfare rhetoric.
The impetus to tax and regulate those services associated with success and comfort is about as American as the 1040 form. Government needs money for bloated public sector programs, services, and salaries? Tax the limos. Angry that you’re stuck in a smelly cab – or you can’t fetch one? Tax the limos. Don’t like how your life has turned out? Tax the limos.
“All of you are competitive – but what will be compete about if airports and regulators take away our ability to do business?” Lefkowitz said, in a challenge to regional association leaders.
Lefkowitz told regional association officials and assembled operators that the industry needs to educate, organize, and unite behind its interests.
“Stop acting like victims, and beat the hell out of them,” Lefkowitz said. “We will come into your states and work with you,” he said of the NLA and its lobbying efforts.
“We will win our battles, but all of us have to pull together,” he said.
That requires operators to sign up with the NLA and their regional associations – and show up for meetings. As of March 10, the NLA had 2,534 members out of more than 9,500 operators nationwide. That is a 28 percent increase in membership since December 2006, when the NLA had 1,973 members.
Limousine and chauffeured transportation industry supporters can send personal checks to
c/o National Limousine Association
49 South Maple Ave.
Marlton, N.J. 08053
Or call the NLA office at (800) 652-7007 to contribute via credit card
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