May 19, 2017 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff WriterThe Riverton City Council has scratched a proposal to issue four separate permit fee options to temporary merchants, instead agreeing to a one-year application fee of $100.
Initially, city staff had proposed charging anywhere from $50 for a day permit to $450 for a six month permit.
The city weighed different fee options, looking at the fees other municipalities charge compared with other permits as well as overall revenues, expenses and the work staff would have to put in to deal with the permits.
Flat rate best
The council agreed that a flat rate would best cover the administrative costs.
"In my mind there's no difference in (being there) three days or the six months," Mayor Lars Baker said.
Once the city takes in an application for a permit, municipal employees also ask to see proof that the merchant has the proper paperwork stating they pay sales tax, have liability insurance and are following state health codes.
The city also has to check that merchants are following rules pertaining to minors at their location.
After all of that work is completed, Baker said, "there really isn't a cost" to allowing temporary merchants in Riverton.
However, interim city administrator Courtney Bohlender noted that, when permits involve alcohol sales or consumption, city staff has to do more work and often handle the same application up to five or six times. In addition, community development director Sandy Luers said if there are complaints about vendors, the city would have to initiate an inspection to respond to any issues.
Keep it simple
Regardless, Councilman Tim Hancock suggested the fee verbiage remain simple.
"The more that we complicate this the more we're going to be bearing cost as the city," he said. "So I think the simpler we can make this the better because then we're not having to go through and enforce it."
A year from now, Baker said the council could revisit the fee and determine whether it worked well and covered the city's costs. If a merchant needs a dumpster for garbage or some other service related to his or her business, he suggested the city could help for an additional charge.
The temporary merchant permitting ordinance passed on third and final reading on May 9.
During that meeting, community member Amanda Ablard said the former fee for temporary merchants was too expensive, especially for her idea of operating an ice cream truck for the summer.
Under the old ordinance language, she would have to pay $300 for a three-month permit or $450 for a six-month permit.
Van Marken, who offers his lot for temporary merchants, also approached the council and said he thought the previous fees were "exorbitant."
Prior to approval the council decided to change language pertaining to the distance between two merchants on the same lot. The ordinance now states the merchants shall be 50 feet away from each other, as opposed to the initial 100 feet.
The city also established a separate special event fee of $100 for vendors wishing to do business on city-owned property such as the vacant lot on 422 East Main Street, the city parking lot at the intersection of East Fremont and North Broadway avenues, or city parks. The council decided the city should approve of those permits on a case-by-case basis, because such events could possibly involve the sale of alcohol.
The council members discussed the possibility of allowing alcohol at City Park and Jaycee Park in particular. Current city codes state no alcohol is permitted at those two parks.
When the council asked for his opinion, interim Riverton Police Department chief Eric Murphy recollected a past Friday Night Cruise event that resulted in numerous complaints related to alcohol consumption.
"It was a nightmare, to say the least, for the police department," Murphy said.
He said he was supportive, however, of events where hosting organizations work with the police department to coordinate alcohol consumption. In the past, Murphy said the RPD has been in contact with organizers as early as a month before an event to address alcohol consumption "as a team."
"If it's a very specific event and they're willing to work with us I'm willing to work with them," he said.
He noted that during the eclipse celebrations on Aug. 21 a group has already approached him regarding an event at the softball fields off of Smith Road that would include a live band and alcohol consumption. He also anticipates another group approaching the city about an event to be held at City Park during the eclipse, with alcohol sales involved as well.
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