published Monday, January 16th, 2012

City of Jasper, Tenn., plans fee and fine increase for vendors

By Ryan Lewis/Correspondent

JASPER, Tenn. -- Concerns about unlicensed vendors at the city's Christmas parade prompted the Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen to investigate the issue.

Last month, city officials said unidentified and unlicensed peddlers were weaving through parade traffic, selling various items such as lighted toys and balloons to every willing buyer they could find.

Mayor Billy Simpson said the way the vendors darted in and out of traffic at the parade was "really a hazard."

Last week, the board voted unanimously to revise the existing ordinance to require a $50 application fee instead of $20 and a $50 fine plus court costs for each day someone violates the town's current vendor law.

The board will vote on the changes at its next meeting Feb. 13.

After examining Jasper's existing laws, City Attorney Mark Raines found that the town's rules on the matter already are fairly strict.

"We have a pretty good ordinance already," he said. "Our ordinance is very detailed and requires a lot of information" from anyone who wants to be a vendor. The current ordinance requires prospective vendors to fill out an application 10 days before the event and to pay the $20 fee, he said.

After that, the ordinance requires the Jasper police chief to approve the vendor, officials said.

"[The police chief] is to note any concerns or requirements that he has in regards to safety and whatever additional restrictions [he] imposes," Raines said.

Charitable organizations do not fall under the same guidelines, officials said.

"The problem we've run into is these people at the park or at the parades that don't come in and get the permit," Raines said. "What do we do with them?"

The consequences for violating the current ordinance could be considered to be a little vague, Raines said, but the law does allow for police officers to "immediately eject" any vendors who do not have a permit at an event.

The maximum penalty for violating the ordinance under state law is $50 plus court costs for each day of violation, Raines said.

Officials said state statute allows the maximum fee for a temporary vendor's license to be $50.

"I think we definitely need to go up [on the application fee] to $50," Alderman Steve Looney said.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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