By Colin Hogan
After hearing complaints from local business owners last fall, the Fulton Common Council will hold a public hearing on Feb. 24 on modifications to the city’s food truck vendor permit stipulations.
The issue arose in October after business owners along state Route 3 on the west side of the river called it “unfair” that they pay what they call some of “the highest taxes in the state,” while thriving food truck vendors set up in Bullhead Point pay a smaller once-yearly fee to the city.
“With lower cost structures for those businesses, they can charge less and they’re going to have more customers,” Lakeview Lanes owner Mike Tryniski told the council in October. “It doesn’t seem like a fair balance between the businesses and the vendors.”
Following a special meeting Wednesday, in which the public hearing was scheduled, Common Council President Larry Macner said the council agrees that raising vendors’ fees and other permit modifications are in order, but that would be the extent of how the council intervenes in the affairs of these businesses.
“It comes down to competition and free enterprise — who’s got the best product at the best price,” Macner said.
During earlier deliberations on the subject, Councilor Jim Myers, who chairs the Codes Committee, noted that if the fees were to be assessed in the same way as property taxes, the city would be collecting even less from its food truck vendors than it already does.
“The average price (of a food truck on eBay) is like $10,000. If that was considered real property, and they had to pay taxes at our tax rates, they’d be paying $196.62 instead of $750,” Myers said.
Macner said Wednesday that fees would be rising from $750 per year to $1,000.
“The biggest change here will the fee increase, because there hadn’t been one in several years,” he said.
When discussing the matter last fall, Crystal English – owner of the Shannon’s Hot Dogs food truck, which has been regularly parked at Bullhead Point for 30 years – said she would be willing to see that figure increase “a reasonable amount,” such as $300 or so, but felt it would be unfair for a business like hers to be held up to the same taxing standard as a property-based business.
“We’re mobile. We’re on wheels. At the end of the day, we pack up and leave. There’s no comparison to be made there,” she said.
Currently the city has permits issued to three vendors at Bullhead Point, two at Indian Point and one downtown.
The public hearing will take place at the start of the Common Council’s Feb. 24 meeting at 7 p.m.