New York bankers were planning counterstrategy Thursday after their lobbying failed to prevent the city council from adopting strict security requirements for automated teller machines.
The security bill was passed Wednesday by 40 to 3. It mandates video cameras, improved door locks, and other hardware designed to discourage crimes at the more than 1,000 ATM sites in the city. The bill is expected to be signed into law by Mayor David N. Dinkins in the next 30 days.
Local bankers argued that the measures are unproven crime deterrents and will be difficult and expensive to implement.
Big Banks Join Forces
Led by the New York State Bankers Association, several of the city's largest banks have vowed to fight back. Representatives of Chase Manhattan Corp., Chemical Banking Corp., and Citicorp are planning to meet next week to consider al least two options:
* They could file a lawsuit to invalidate the measure. According to a report from the New York State Bar Association, the city council may have overstepped its authority by imposing regulations on federally chartered institutions.
* They could push for federal legislation, perhaps an amendment to the Bank Security Act of 1968, that would supersede local law.
Six Months to Comply
In the immediate future, though, the banks plan to continue to lobby for changes to the just-passed measure.
"There are indications that some changes might be possible before the law actually takes effect," said Michael P. Smith, executive vice president of the New York State bankers' group. Noting that the banks have six months to comply after the mayor signs the bill, he said, "Our arguments did not fall on totally deaf ears, so perhaps the door hasn't closed on a compromise."
Mr. Smith said his members have endorsed additional safety features at automated tellers, but they disagree with several of the specifics of the safety bill and will work to change them.
Meanwhile, confirming suspicions that other cities might follow New York's lead, a Los Angeles City Council member expressed interest in sponsoring a similar bill. The official, Joel Wachs, plans to initiate committee discussions on the issue next week.
"The question in our mind is whether bank customers will pay more to finance the safety features," said Greg Nelson, a spokesman for the councilman.