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By Forrest Hershberger
Publisher, Sun-Telegraph 

The Price of Being a Food Vendor

Sidney Resident Questions Daily Fee, License


February 16, 2022

Sometimes lunch is on the run, a quick sandwich and a drink. Sometimes “quick” is a street corner vendor, but what are the options when the vendor has days when the daily receipts aren't much more than the daily fee to operate an approved food cart? That is the question Stephen Wood brought before the Sidney City Council in the February 8 meeting.

Wood asked to be on the agenda to gain clarification on licensing for “transient merchants,” those who include food trucks and carts and temporary locations by design. City Manager David Scott referenced licensing needed that covers businesses including door to door sales. Daily permits are $30 per day. City Attorney J. Leef said food vendors are also limited in location by the City code. Wood said his concern is not just the fee, which could be much of some day's sales operating a hot dog cart, but also the need to get a permit daily.

“What this ordinance has done is limited convenience for the people of the city,” he said.

Scott said a business can get multiple permits at one time. Wood suggested a reasonably-priced annual fee.

The council agreed to meet on the subject at a future date.

LB840 Changes Approved

In other business, the council agreed to changes in how LB840 is administered.

The LB840 “Sidney Economic Development Plan Revised — 2018” has been revised to reflect all eligible businesses approved by the Nebraska Legislature in the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act. Scott said the Legislature allowed discretion on how to spend funds including housing, and a shortage in childcare and education. In his report to the council, Scott said business recruitment and job creation is difficult because the community needs more workers, which requires more housing and daycare. He added businesses are looking for communities with diversified entertainment, housing, daycare, and opportunities for other family members.

The changes were approved unanimously.

City Customers Will See Change on Online Bill Pay

Online payments of City fees will soon take on a different approach. The City of Sidney is moving away from Express Pay and contracting with Invoice Cloud. Finance Director Lane Kizzire said the program is expected to be implemented by February 23. The program will encourage auto-pay of accounts, can accept most debit, credit card and bank payments and will save the city in costs and staff time. Kizzire said City staff answer up to 1,250 calls per month from residents paying bills. Correspondence from the city to customers can be attached to the bill in the Invoice Cloud system.

Kizzire said costs are important because a municipality cannot charge processing fees for utility services. Customers can sign up to Invoice Cloud by clicking on the Online Payments link on the city website. Residents can also call the city offices at (308) 254-5300 for assistance setting up an Invoice Cloud account. Residents also have the option of paying through the City's website without an account.

The council also approved purchase of a horizontal drill for the Electric Department, and a Slope Mower for the Parks Department.

The meeting ended with the council resigning to an executive session regarding real estate negotiations.


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