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Restaurant letter-grade system overhaul could bring fine relief

A restaurant letter grade in an eatery's window

A restaurant letter grade in an eatery's window Photo Credit: Getty Images/Mario Tama

The city's letter-grade system for restaurant health inspections could get less onerous — and less costly — under reforms being proposed by lawmakers.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said that the reforms to the grading system introduced by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg would signficantly reduce fines for restaurants while still upholding safety standards.

Restaurants could see a reduction of 25 percent in fines under the new rules, which could mean a drop in revenue for the city of about $10 million a year.

"Letter grading was never intended to be a revenue generator for the city of New York," Mark-Viverito said.

The New York City Hospitality Alliance said it had advocated for similar reforms.

Since its debut in 2010, the letter-grading system has been criticized for being inconsistent and arbitrary. Some critics charge that the system is nothing more than a moneymaking scheme.

City health officials say the system has led to a decrease in food poisoning cases.

Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said the health standards weren't changing.

Anyone can submit comments on the proposed changes online here until 5 p.m. on April 29.

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