Schwartz, L., J.c.c., Temporarily Assigned.
Plaintiff, a taxicab licensee in the City of Passaic, instituted this action seeking judicial review of the refusal of the local governing body to increase the authorized taxi fare by adopting an ordinance establishing a rate which plaintiff alleges is essential for it to remain in business.
The authority and procedure by which a municipality may engage in rate-making is legislatively uncharted.
When the matter originally came before the court it was remanded to the municipal council because an inadequate record had been made of the initial proceedings before the public body, which resulted in the adoption of an ordinance establishing a flat-rate taxi fare of $1.15 per trip within the city instead of the rate of $1 per trip which previously had prevailed.
At the new hearing plaintiff presented financial data for the purpose of supporting its original request for a flat-rate charge of $1.50 per trip. The governing body adopted a resolution denying the application without expressing any factual or legal basis for its decision.
What authority is delegated to municipal bodies by the Legislature in the sphere of taxicab regulation?
N.J.S.A. 48:16-2 requires the owner of a taxicab to obtain the consent of the governing body before operating his vehicle along any street in a municipality and also makes provision with respect to insurance requirements.
N.J.S.A. 40:52-1 provides:
The governing body may make, amend, repeal and enforce ordinances to license and regulate:
a. All vehicles used for the transportation of passengers, baggage, merchandise, and goods and chattels of every kind, and the owners and drivers of all such vehicles; * * * [Emphasis supplied]
Authority to implement these powers may be found in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2:
Any municipality may make, amend, repeal and enforce such other ordinances, regulations, rules and by-laws not contrary to the laws of this state or of the United States, as it may deem necessary and proper for the good government, order and protection of persons and property, and for the preservation of the public health, safety and welfare of the municipality and its inhabitants, and as may be necessary to carry into effect the powers and duties conferred and imposed by this subtitle, or by any law.
The purpose of the statutes should not be frustrated by an unduly narrow interpretation of the power to "regulate." Authority delegated to an administrative agency should be construed so as to permit the fullest accomplishment of the legislative intent. Cammarata v. Essex County Park Comm'n , 26 N.J. 404, 411 (1958); 42 Am. Jur., Public Administrative Law , §§ 4, 35.
In Kirzenbaum v. Paulus , 51 N.J. Super. 186 (Law Div. 1958), the court, in interpreting N.J.S.A. 40:67-1
which provided for the delegation of the power to "regulate" structures on the streets, permitted the construction of a sidewalk bank depository, saying:
In the opinion of this court the term "regulate" in the cited statute is held to constitute a delegation of power by the Legislature to the municipality to authorize and encumbrance such as is here contemplated if, in the opinion of the municipal body, such authorization is in the public interest, with particular reference to the improvement of ...