County may lower food permit fee at yard sale

April 19, 2003|by TARA REILLY

With the annual Mile-Long Yard Sale less than three months away, the Washington County Health Department has proposed lowering the fee for temporary food vendors at the yard sale and other once-a-year events to $15.

Last year, residents said the Health Department's strict enforcement of a $50 permit requirement for food vendors ruined the annual Fourth of July event. By noon, sellers began packing up their goods, some saying the scrutiny from health officials had limited the number of food vendors and contributed to low attendance.

They also said the high temperature, which hit 98 degrees, contributed to poor attendance.

The proposed $35 fee reduction would apply to all vendors who sell food only at annual events, according to a document from County Attorney Richard Douglas.


The food vendors typically set up shop along the road or in their driveways during the yard sale and sell items such as drinks, snow cones, hot dogs and hamburgers.

Laurie Bucher, the Health Department's director of environmental health, said Friday the proposed fee reduction is a result of concerns from people who take part in events like the yard sale. Some concerns were voiced by Mile-Long Yard Sale participants who said the $50 fee cut into their profits, Bucher said.

The County Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the proposed fee change Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. at the County Administration Building at 100 W. Washington St. The commissioners are expected to vote on the proposal following the hearing.

At least two commissioners said Friday they support the fee reduction.

"I know the public felt that price was a little high," Commissioner James F. Kercheval said. "This allows them to get their permit and not have to spend as much money."

Commissioner John C. Munson said that while he would prefer that no fee be charged, reducing it to $15 would be better than maintaining the current rate.

"I don't like any permit fee for somebody who's selling hamburgers, hot dogs and soda in their own driveway," Munson said. "That's wrong."

Munson said the fee is a way for the health department to make money.

"All they want is their $15," Munson said.

As they did last year, health officials plan to inspect food vendors' operations to make sure their food is safe to eat, Bucher said.

Last year's yard sale had 21 food vendors, double the number at other yearly events such as the Blues Fest, Bucher said.

The Mile-Long Yard Sale, which is in its 23rd year, is put on by residents of the Paradise Drive and Long Meadow Road neighborhood.

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