'Hardship' is more than in LA or NYC

Columbus raises licensing fees 10 percent on mobile-food vendors

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Owners of mobile-food vendors will see a double-digit increase in licensing fees from the city of Columbus in the new year.

The Columbus Board of Health on Dec. 18 approved a 10-percent increase on licensing fees for food trucks, carts and similar types of businesses, raising the price to $430 annually.

The increase is not sitting well with the Greater Ohio Showmen’s Association, which represents nearly 300 mobile-food operators.

“It’s getting cost-prohibitive,” said Kevin Pope, a member of the association’s board of trustees and owner of Mowry’s Pizza, which attends multiple events in Columbus.

The new fee makes a Columbus license more expensive than that any other city or county in the state, Pope said. By comparison, Franklin County charges $128 per year, and Delaware County charges $163. Columbus now charges more than New York City and Los Angeles, he said.

“We’re opposed because it’s a hardship on our members,” he said. “In these tough economic times, this is not the time to raise prices. It’s time to stick to common-sense measures. Bottom line is the smaller businesses once again are shouldering the financial burden.”

Roger Cloern, an assistant health commissioner, said the increase is necessary to offset increasing personnel costs associated with those types of enterprises. He said the mobile-food trucks, for example, are becoming far more elaborate and the cuisines more sophisticated, requiring more time for on-site inspections.

For more on this story, see the Jan. 3 editions of ThisWeek Community News.

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