The city of Parsons enacted a new food vendor ordinance earlier this week, and it’s elicited feedback from residents on social media who wonder why it is necessary. City officials say it is necessary for the health and safety of food truck owners and patrons who eat at them.
“It makes legislative sense; it makes safety sense,” said Jim Zaleski, economic development director for the city of Parsons.
The Parsons City Commission approved an ordinance Monday for mobile food vendors. It went into effect upon publication in the Parsons Sun on Thursday.
Zaleski said this ordinance is needed no matter what. He said it is positive for business with keeping the health and safety of everyone intact.
“It’s not about doing what’s popular. It’s about what’s doing what’s right for the residents,” Zaleski said.
The registration requires proof of qualifying general liability insurance and proof of a state-issued food service permit. Failure to register with the clerk’s office could lead to a $500 fine.
Vendors who live in the 67357 ZIP code pay $25 annually for the registration fee.
“That was something we did want to protect,” said Commissioner Eric Strait.
Other vendors pay $100 for a week (seven consecutive days) or $300 a year. If vendors will use city electricity, they also must pay $25 a day.
The city looked at similar ordinances in Coffeyville, Independence and Chanute, among other cities.
“I think it was the right time because it had been brought to the board before,” said Mayor Kevin Cruse.
He said cities and towns across Kansas and the country have these types of rules in place to protect the health and safety of patrons.
“This is one step to ensure that happens,” Cruse said.
City Attorney Ross Albertini said City Manager Debbie Lamb crafted the ordinance — taking pieces from neighboring cities’ ordinances. Albertini reviewed the ordinance and made suggestions.
Albertini said Parsons likes to look at surrounding cities’ ordinances since those towns are comparable to Parsons.
The commission had talked about this idea several years prior, even three city commission changeovers ago, Zaleski said. Albertini, too, said the commission looked at a vendor license about five to 10 years ago, but it didn’t pass.
“This is not the first time this issue has been visited,” Albertini said.
Albertini said this ordinance was not driven or forced upon the commission by city staff.
Strait said he got the ball rolling on the topic.
“When I came on the commission, I knew that there were things that I didn’t know,” he said. Strait, who manages Taco Mayo in Parsons, joined the Parsons City Commission in January 2022 after voters elected him to the post.
He said he learned the city did not require any permits, fees or regulations for food trucks or mobile food vendors selling goods.
“So I wanted to look into that,” he said, noting that it’s a common practice among other cities.
City staff then looked into the topic.
“It was certainly needed,” Strait said of the ordinance.
A post on the Parsons, KS Public Information Office’s Facebook page about the ordinance drew 269 comments and 67 shares as of early Friday afternoon. Zaleski said the comments on that post were inaccurate and blatantly wrong.
Some food truck operators weighed in on the issue as well.
J.R. Keene, owner of Outsider’s Tacos in Parsons, said this ordinance is nothing new for food truck owners.
“Parsons has needed one for years,” he said.
Genelle’s Kettle Korn posted on its Facebook page it would not sell its products within the city of Parsons “because the new city ordinance requires us to have a million-dollar insurance policy.”
“Please visit us in other towns and we will give the sales tax to them. They appreciate us bringing business to their town,” the post said.
As for insurance, Keene said he has double what Parsons requires with the ordinance.
Keene said he thinks the city should give any food trucks located in Labette County — not just Parsons — the $25 annual registration fee, though.
“That’s something I would like to see,” he said.
He said he hated to see other food truck owners upset about the new ordinance.
“I’m happy to run my business here,” he said, noting he has many great patrons.
Overall, Keene said competition in this field is a good thing. He said he thinks a lot of residents may have thought this ordinance came to fruition because local restaurant owners didn’t want competition from food trucks.
He said locally owned restaurants, such as Taco Mayo and Kitchen Pass, have always offered a helping hand to Keene with his food truck business.
If the city finds this ordinance drives away food truck business, maybe it can revisit it and possibly change things, Keene said.
Sorry, there are no recent results for popular commented articles.