Ordinance 122 – regarding peddlers, solicitors and transient merchants – is in deliberation to see some changes following a workshop discussion during Tuesday’s scheduled city council meeting.
The main issue presented about the ordinance arose around Section 122 Chapter 18 (122.18) regarding the third rule listed relating to license exemptions.
It reads as follows:
Chapter 122.18 License Exemptions: The following are excluded from the application of this chapter: .... 3. Local residents and farmers. Local residents and farmers who offer products for sale.
The license exemption allows those who fall underneath it to be exempt from paying license fees before receiving a license.
The main issue the council faced with the current wording of the ordinance is what fell under the definition of local resident or farmer.
“The other thing that would be helpful would be clarification on what’s a farmer,” said City Attorney Marion James. “Somebody that files a schedule F on their tax returns?”
What product the vendor was selling presented an issue as well. Council members discussed whether it should read as “products or produce.”
“I think if that one word was changed from products to produce all the issues would be gone,” said Dave Koets, Ward 5 council member.
“No, because then the Little Green Trailer wouldn’t be able to operate because they are not selling produce. They’re selling a product,” responded Police Chief Paul Ver Meer, who is responsible for approving permits.
“I denied (Little Green Trailer’s) permit originally because products, I was thinking produce, the farmers market type stuff,” said Ver Meer. “He went to the city attorney and Marion agreed with him that he was exempt because of the way it was worded in the code.”
Council considered leaving the ordinance alone, but James recommended changing the ordinance would make the ordinance clearer from a legal standpoint.
Pushback on added exemptions came from Councilman At-Large Steve Wintermute.
“I’m not going to go into names and figures, but they (local businesses) pay lots of taxes, plain and simple,” said Wintermute. “I don’t want to sound like I’m picking on somebody, but everybody needs to pay their fair share. I’ve paid a lot of taxes on my business so, you know, maybe I’m a little biased.”
“If it were my personal preference, I would want to support a brick-and-mortar restaurant that is going to be there in perpetuity and pay taxes,” said Ward 3 Representative Gabe Carroll.
“But, I don’t think it’s our job as a city council to dictate what business we want to let run and what fee we want to give to what business. I just don’t know if that’s our place to dictate.”
Any changes to the ordinance are still required to have a public hearing and three readings before being officially voted on and/or passed by the council.
City council will have time to discuss how it wants to put any changes in writing, but since it was just a discussion, action on the matter will take time to draw up and pass.
In other city council news:
• The council voted to table the resolution regarding Mark Williams’ easement request to place a water line underneath a city parking lot for a potential use in a new business.
Council was advised to table the decision because Public Works Director Kevin Kruse said Williams was no longer sure he was going to open a business in that location.
“Last time I spoke with Mark, last week he wasn’t even sure if he was going to do this now,” said Kruse. “I would recommend postponing the vote, I guess, until we find out if it’s actually going to happen, for one, and two an actual route (of the water line).”
• City council unanimously approved an EMT class at Southwestern Community College for two full-time Fire department employees.
The class is a five-month program and will run $1,500 per person, but the cost won’t be covered entirely by the Creston Fire Department. Some financial responsibility will fall on the two taking the class as well.
“It will likely make us have to amend the budget for the fire department, I wanted to make you aware of that,” said Taylor. “I am all for the training when it’s that local.”
“They can attend a class while they are working, but when they’re off-duty we are not compensating,” said Todd Jackson, Creston’s fire chief. “Which is kind of a bonus for us – we are not paying the whole time they are in class.”