Commissioners consider new food vendor fees


February 9, 2023

Wahkiakum County Commissioners covered a lot of ground when the met Tuesday, approving expenses for construction and other projects and previewing proposed changes in fees for food service vendors.

Commissioners approved a contract for landscape design services for Forrest Mora Landscaping, $3,500. Once a design is completed, the county will seek quotes for implementing the landscaping around the courthouse.

The board accepted a quote from Renaud Electric to upgrade the electrical service at the Grays River Valley Center, $18,770.

The board also accepted bids from Columbia River Carpet One for replacing water damaged flooring in a courthouse restroom, $2,655, and from Hilton Painting for repairing and painting walls as part of the sheriff's office relocation project, $7,316.80.

The board received an annual report from county Treasurer Tammy Peterson stating that the office had refunded $27,525.83 in property taxes to county property owners; most were senior citizens qualifying for tax relief.

Health and Human Services Department Director Chris Bischoff presented a report of proposed changes in fees charged to people wanting to sell food at community events such as street fairs.

Bischoff commented that officials have received complaints from vendors about the county's fee schedule and suggestions to revise them.

"There are a few more places where we could be a bit more friendly," Bischoff said.

The county currently requires a permit for each event, and one such change would add a fee for multiple events in which the vendor maintains the same menu.

The report also compared Wahkiakum rates, current and proposed, with those of Cowlitz and Grays Harbor counties.

"Overall, your proposed rates seem real fair," commented commission Chair Lee Tischer.

The fees are not designed to cover the cost of food inspection services, Bischoff said, and they could be set at any level without much impact on the department budget.

"They're small ticket items for us," he said.

"I'm really excited about this proposal," commented Monica Budd, executive director of the Wahkiakum Chamber of Commerce. She added that the Chamber will host a class next month on how to be a food vendor.

Bischoff said department staff would consult with the prosecuting attorney's office and return with in a few weeks with an updated fee ordinance for commission action.


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