Permit fee agreeable

Published 10:17 am Saturday, February 26, 2011

MURFREESBORO — Town officials and Watermelon Festival coordinators here have reached a conclusion to the issue of vendor fees and street peddlers.

On Tuesday, the Murfreesboro Town Council agreed to charge the Watermelon Festival Committee a lump sum of $2,500 for a permit fee that would include all of the vendors on festival grounds.

According to Interim Town Administrator Richard Hicks, the conclusion to charge that lump sum was the result of two meetings held between a committee of town and festival officials.

In addition to the $2,500, Hicks said there was a second question regarding the vendors paying sales tax, which would come back to Hertford County and the Town.

“It was asked that the (vendor) applications include information on their sales tax number,” he said. “(The committee recommended) we also look at the possibility of the option of an ordinance where vendors would not be allowed outside of the grounds.”

Some council members seemed concerned about the sales tax number requirement as some craft vendors who create their items as a hobby may not have a number.

“That was one of my concern because you’ve got a mom and pop selling jams, jellies, quilts and churches coming out,” said Mayor John Hinton.

Watermelon Festival Event Coordinator Laurie Brook, who was in attendance, said it was brought up in the meeting, but that it was up to the individual to be honest as to file what they earned or pay the sales tax.

“This is really not something that we can monitor or even count necessarily,” she said.

It was noted that aspect could always be changed.

“It’s a start,” said Councilman Billy Theodorakis. “Everyone in business should have one.”

“So this wouldn’t prevent a church from having something there,” asked Town Attorney Buddy Jones.

Mayor Pro-Tem Molly Eubank said they would have to pay the Watermelon Festival Committee for the vendor fee and stay within the grounds.

Jones asked if the ban of vendors outside of the Watermelon Festival grounds would prevent local churches (and civic groups) from having simultaneous events on their own property.

Council members said it would not.

Councilman Lloyd Hill moved to approve the recommendation to accept the $2,500 permit fee from the Watermelon Committee. Councilwoman Sarah Wallace offered a seconded and the motion passed without objection.