Council to consider rule for special event vendors

Published 10:32 am Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Ironton City Council may consider an ordinance that would regulate vendors at special events in the city and could possibly affect the activity of established businesses during those special events as well.

The Friends of Ironton group has approached the council about the issue during regular meetings and most recently at a joint meeting of the council’s public utilities and finance committee.

The group is seeking an ordinance that would require vendors who set up outside the special events’ parameters to pay a fee to the host organization or the City of Ironton.

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Dave Smith, who came to the meeting Monday along with Friends chair Rick Jansen, argued that the organization pays $200,000 to put on Rally on the River and some vendors set up during the event without paying a fee.

The Friends ultimately invest its money into city projects such as the Splash Park and the restoration of the Ro-Na Theater, the group argues.

“Right now… we have a total of 22 vendors that have paid us to have spots and across the city during that four-day event there will probably be two to three times as many as that scattered throughout the city that aren’t paying anything but they’re reaping the benefits,” Smith said. “The Friends of Ironton is spending in excess of $200,000 to put on that event.”

A question was raised if an established business should pay a permit fee to operate outside of its standard business or outside its normal parameters during special events.

Smith argued that in the instance where a business is selling items on the sidewalk outside their building during the special event, that business should have to pay a fee.

“The way you’ve got to look at it is why is he doing that sidewalk sale?” Smith said. “Because he’s benefiting from the (special event). So why shouldn’t he (pay a fee)?”

Councilman Frank Murphy and Finance Director Kristen Martin later said the city permits businesses to have a certain number of sidewalk sales each year.

Martin said it might be difficult to enforce which established businesses should have to pay a fee because the city does not issue business licenses, only Lawrence County does.

An ordinance concerning vendors during special events has not been written and will not be on the agenda for tonight’s council meeting. Council members have, however, expressed an interest in getting such an ordinance passed quickly.

Murphy suggested passing an ordinance concerning transient vendors first in time for Rally on the River in August and then making any necessary adjustments to the law later.

“This is not going to be a real easy, quick decision,” Jansen said. “There’s a lot of different elements that fit into this whole situation. But we need to start somewhere and sometime and start building the framework as to what the expectations are because I’ll be honest with you, you guys want us to keep doing things like the spray park and the Ro-Na, we can’t keep taking this amount of financial risk that we’re personally responsible for.”