Scottville's Extortion Scheme on Food Trucks and Street Vendors

The greed of the City of Scottville is so vast that their commission is scheduled at their Monday meeting to effectively run street vendors and food trucks out of town by creating an insane 'establishing' fee scheduled to increase a modest fee set in 2017 by a factor of 185!  

On July 25, an ordinance will likely be passed to revise a vendor ordinance passed in 2017.  This new set of rules appears to allow a little more latitude on where a food truck or other street vendor can set up; they used to be effectively banned from the downtown, though you may have noticed they can currently set up in the expansive parking lot west of the downtown, as long as they are 400' away from Man Street.  Scottville-based R&T's Colossal Kitchen is frequently based in that area, profiting from the US 10 traffic passing through and the lack of other Scottville restaurants on that highway in the downtown of Scottville. 

Ordinances in Scottville need three readings before they can be voted on.  In June they introduced the ordinance and on July 11 they even had a public hearing on it-- though they never showed the actual ordinance in their packets.  The mom and pop owners of R&T's Colossal Kitchen, Rob and Tammy Ringler, heard how it was marketed by city leaders and spoke of their approval of it at that hearing, as did former Commissioner Sue Petipren who voted on the prior 2017 version.  Clowncilor Rob Alway remarked that it was exciting and would be so beneficial to other downtown businesses.

But like any good charlatan experienced with legerdemain, Alway didn't establish why this would be so beneficial to other businesses in competition with these mobile vendors, nor did he establish the potential gold mine city hall had tapped into if the Colossal Kitchen and other vendors were to sprout up along State Street.  

Let us first look at what happened in 2017, when they revised the rules for street vendors into what currently is the law.  An entirely different cast of city officials set the costs for annual permits for street vendors and food trucks and established it at $100, a reasonable figure since many of these vendors effectively run themselves with minimal need of city services or utilities.

Five years later, the Scottville City Clowncil sees the Colossal Kitchen and other food trucks near Ludington operating fairly successfully as other brick and mortar restaurants continue to have issues after a punishing pandemic period.  Craftily, they draft a revised ordinance that they market as a Godsend to city businesses of all types, while it technically makes the rules tougher, but permits expansion of vendor franchises.  Seeing that success, and that they can make some quick bucks without having to do anything more than write up the permits, their avarice kicks in and they create a resolution to pass on the same day (Monday) that they pass their ordinance.  Recall an annual fee is currently $100.  

This update of fees indicate that a daily permit will cost $100 during the summer.  If the Colossal Kitchen or any other food truck or street vendor looks to get the cheapest annual permit allowed, they need to spend about $18,500 ($500 X 22 summer weeks + $250 X 30 off-summer weeks) rather than the $100 for an annual permit currently allowed .  

Such an exorbitant fee is totally out of whack and will drive such businesses away from the Scottville city limits, consider the City of Adrian's food truck permit fee structure which considers many factors but settles on $100 when vendors are not in a park or in the farmer's market:

The annual rates above are fairly normal rates for municipal food truck permits, much less than the Scottville rates being considered; an annual permit in PM Township (known for its "10 Spot" food court) only costs $155.  As the resolution indicates that the fees will go into effect immediately, one wonders (if this resolution passes) if those who currently paid their annual permit fee will be expected to pay up to another $100 per day to operate in the city for the rest of the year.  A food truck will need to make $100 in profit each day just to break even, which will price many of these businesses out of considering setting up in Scottville. 

If the resolution passes, Clowncilor Alway will be proven to be right for once, that other downtown business who have to pay a lot less than $18,500 per year in property taxes will be doing a lot better than they have been, particularly if they have to compete with food trucks.  

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These Scottville clowncilors are totally out of their minds raising the permit fees this way, and what should follow, no food trucks in Scottville at all. NONE! No one is going to pay $18,000 to operate, period! What on God's green earth are they thinking? This total thing stinks to the high heaven, and they just closed the door on food trucks there forever, sad, nasty, greedy, and brainless people that have no idea what they are doing.

One hopes that this resolution was drafted by City Attorney Carlos Alvarado (whose command of English-- his second language-- is not the best) without ever being proofread by any other city official, because it will have that effect if passed.  

A food truck would lose some of the city's foot traffic they generate from the west parking lot, but gain additional motor traffic if they were able to set up at one of the places west of the city limits before the Scottville bypass in Amber Twp, such as the lot where the Mercantile used to be and a mattress store is now.  

It seems like some of these yahoo's in Scottville don't understand that they want to bring money into the community, not chase it away. I can maybe see increasing the fee a little bit, maybe $500 for the year, any more than that is silly and no one will pay it. The people that run the food trucks and other vendors will simply move their trucks to a new location that is more reasonable with their fees

Hopefully, we'll learn at this upcoming meeting why they think this policy will work; it should be interesting to hear what they say and how it grates against the common sense you and I have.  This arbitrary change by the clowncil is similar to what they did with chickens last year.  If you recall, they had a process where if you wanted to have chickens on your property, you'd contact city hall and the commission would decide the fate of your permit at an open meeting, where your neighbors could speak out for or against your permit. 

They had a couple of requests in a short period and decided to streamline the process.  Sounds good in theory, but in practice they added a lot of purposeless regulations, added an application and annual fee that wiped out any hoped-for savings on egg prices (this fee affected even those who already had been granted permission at prior meetings), and otherwise made raising chickens in Scottville a power-tripping cash-raising enterprise for city hall-- just like this new resolution does. 

One could say this clowncil did the same thing with the Riverside Park Campgrounds fees and policies too, which was tweaked to gain better financial advantage to city hall without any regard to how it would affect the enjoyment of those who camped there. 

While I doubt that any food vendor would set up shop through the winter months trying to make a living in Scottville . A vendor that would pay $18,500 bucks to do that would have to have some fine hot dogs to sell .    Then make a profit. Sounds to me that the council doesn't want to deal with food vendors in town and that is the way not to.

Scottville is not doing this to make money. As Stump says they are trying to discourage vendors from setting up shop in town. I'm sure many of the businesses in town do not like the fact that someone can sell their products out of a trailer that can be moved at will. And I agree with them. Imagine you have invested lots of money into your business including property taxes, rent or mortgage, insurance etc. and along comes a converted travel trailer towed into town to sell products and compete with established businesses for their customers. They pay no taxes, mortgages, rent, etc and they can tow that trailer back home whenever they want.

I have my own suspicions about what brought about and motivated this Food Truck Ordinance and Resolution, and the words of the city manager and the Ringlers at tonight's clowncil meeting affirmed that I may be on the right track.  You guys have good points with the given information, but I believe there's even more politics underlying everything here.

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