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Local Lawmakers Line Up Against FDNY 'Crash Tax'

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- The FDNY's so-called "crash tax" has some new opponents.

A couple of state and local lawmakers are stepping in to try to stop a plan to charge drivers for accidents, reports CBS 2's Derricke Dennis.

Chances are you've been in one, and it may have even been your fault. Either way, though, the New York Fire Department wants you to cough up the cash for getting into a crash.

"If a fire engine comes to your help, you've gotta pay for that service now, after paying taxes, if it's not your fault?" Riverdale resident William Hay said.

"I mean, that's just another excuse – it's excuses after excuses after excuses – another way to get money out of our pockets," Lizette Wills, of the Bronx, said.

State Senator Eric Adams and City Councilman Damani Williams are sponsoring companion bills against the proposal, calling for any crash tax to first get state and local approval.

"We find this accident tax to be horrendous," Sen. Adams said. "We cannot balance the budget on the backs of the unfortunate number of middle class New Yorkers merely because of a vehicle accident."

The proposed crash tax comes from the city's fire commissioner, who wants to bill drivers for accidents, saying valuable city services are being tied up by carelessness.

He also needs to balance his budget, estimating the tax will add $1 million to city coffers.

"I have 20 company closings at night on the table right now, so every fee that I don't get to collect for, that's just another operational resource that we lose," FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano said.

The fire department would charge different prices depending on the crash – $365 for a simple car accident would become up to $490 for an accident involving fire and injuries.

The Insurance Information Institute is against the idea, saying most insurance policies wouldn't cover it.

Drivers like cabbie Belam Buba would be on their own.

"That's why the taxpayers, we pay our taxes – that's why we pay our taxes," Buba said.

If approved, the crash tax would take effect in July.

The public will have a chance to weigh in on the proposal at a public hearing next month.

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