NEWS HEADLINES

Council to revisit health inspection fees

By Messenger Staff | Published Saturday, December 14, 2013

{{{*}}}When the Decatur City Council meets Monday night, it will ponder whether to raise health inspection fees on dining establishments, or leave them as they are and let city taxpayers “eat” the difference.

The 6 p.m. meeting was scheduled last Monday but postponed due to the ice storm.

At its last meeting on Nov. 25, the council looked at fee increases for building and restaurant inspection, public swimming pool and spa operating permits, sign permits and fees and garbage rates.

But they couldn’t swallow the health inspection fee hike when they saw a letter from a hotel operator who said it would quadruple his fee.

Currently the hotel pays $100 for an annual health inspection for its modest breakfast layout, which includes only a few items offered to guests. Under the new fee schedule, that would go to $400 annually.

The city’s health inspector resigned during the past year. After posting the position and getting no response, the city contracted with an independent inspector, Bureau Veritas, for the service.

Planning Director Dedra Ragland told council the proposed fee increase would simply cover what the new contractor charges for the service.

“We don’t believe it’s the citizens’ responsibility to subsidize those fees, so these fees need to be charged to the food establishments,” Ragland said at the last meeting.

At the hotel’s request, Ragland contacted the company to see if they would lower the fee for smaller-volume businesses. She said they would not.

Councilmember Randy Bowker asked Ragland to come up with some information on how many restaurants would be impacted, and see what it would cost the city to leave the fees where they are and make up the difference from city funds.

That information will be presented Monday.

OTHER BUSINESS

The council will consider plat applications from Umesh Patel, Tony Lemieux and Dwight Reeves, all of which were approved unanimously by the Planning & Zoning Commission, and issue a ruling on a request for financial assistance for the 2014 State Championship Clay Shoot at Fossil Pointe.

They are expected to get a first look at a policy that would guide them on such requests in the future, setting aside a fixed amount for marketing, for which promoters could apply. The city’s hotel-motel tax provides funding for that sort of request, but it is also a major source of funding for the Civic Center.

The council will also:

  • consider a request for an alternate date for the Decatur Chamber of Commerce to close streets for the Moonlight Madness lighted parade Friday, Dec. 20. The event was originally schedule last weekend but was cancelled due to the ice storm.
  • consider whether to postpone or cancel the meeting scheduled for Dec. 23;
  • consider approval of a Red Cross shelter agreement that would designate the Civic Center as a temporary disaster relief refuge;
  • approve minutes, bills and reports.

The meeting at City Hall is open to the public.

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