Erie City Council votes to increase vendor fees. Now, those downtown vendors are speaking out.
The vote was to double the fees that vendors pay to operate within the city. The increase will affect food trucks as well as vendors at downtown events like Roar on the Shore. The decision is not sitting well with many in attendance.
Ellie Cullen, Development Director for Roar on the Shore, says, “For our local and small vendors, that’s a very unanticipated, blind-sided increase.”
George Albert has been in the food truck business for a year and a half with his Long Island Lunch Wagon. He tells us, “I don’t have a problem with an increase. It’s the amount that they want to increase by.”
In a statement released by Mayor Joe Schember’s office, the city states that the vendor fee has not been raised since 1983. If it were adjusted for inflation, it would actually be over $250.
They add that incremental increases over the years would have lessened this burden, but to continue to cover the cost to the city, the fee must be raised, drastically.
Members of City Council tell us that this isn’t the first time that raising these fees has been considered.
City Council Member Curtis Jones tells us, “We’ve had conversations about this for years. We’ve tabled this multiple times… It wasn’t just coming at the vendors, it’s really a part of a strategic process that the city is going through, again, to recoup fees and to be able to get fruitful service, which the rest of the world is doing.”
Albert says, “They want us to make up for a 30-year loss that they have apparently neglected themselves and then want us to be held responsible for their neglect.”
And, for some vendors, the new fee is too much.
Tracy Geibel, Owner of Cluck Truck, says, “You won’t see the Cluck Truck downtown… It’s not our fault that they haven’t accumulated any raises in the last 30 years, yet we’re taking all the burden. And it’s not just the vendor fee; it’s an accumulation of fees that they just said they’ll be raising all of them.”