EAST LIVERPOOL - A plan to raise food licensing fees met with silence by the Board of Health Thursday, with members saying local businesses are already having a tough time.
Health Commissioner Jelayne Dray presented for the board's consideration a resolution that included some increases and some decreases in fees, but no motion to consider the legislation was forthcoming.
Dray and Mayor James Swoger had derived the new fee schedule based on a cost methodology using data from 2011 that was then put into the computerized system provided by the state department of health to determine what fees should be enacted.
The determination was to raise some fees while decreasing some others, and Dray reminded the board that current license fees had not been raised or lowered since 2005.
The proposed increases included $10 per year for Risk Classes I through IV and $3 per year for Vending. This would take Risk Class I to $70 a year; Class II, $80; Risk Class III, $185; Class IV, $235; Vending, $17.
The Risk Class in which an establishment is located depends upon the food being served. For example, Class I includes carry-outs and gas stations; Class II, those selling pre-packaged foods such as potato chips; Class III, most restaurants; Class IV, caterers, hospitals, long-term care facilities.
Decreases were proposed for temporary commercial licenses from $30 to $25; temporary non-commercial from $15 to $12.50; and for mobile from $100 to $60.
"Do we need more money?" board member Carl Covert asked, with Swoger saying the food service fund is currently seeing a slight deficit.
The license fees must go into the food service fund to operate that department, including the cost of the sanitarian's salary and benefits, Dray explained.
The new fees would go into effect in February 2013, and Swoger told the board, "When given a choice, everyone wants to go to the maximum. I think (the proposed fees) are fair."
State maximum fees in each of the Class Risk and Vending categories are higher than the proposed increases.
Dray and Swoger emphasized the proposed decreases must be enacted by law, although the board has the option of approving or denying the increases.
Member Dr. Jeff Caldwell himself the owner of a downtown restaurant said, "A lot of these businesses are fighting for their lives now," and Covert said it seemed "a little quick to make a decision," having just seen the proposal that day.
It was agreed to table the issue and hold the Nov. 15 meeting at 3:30 instead of the regular 4 p.m. time to allow for additional discussion after members have the chance to consider the matter.
Member Bob Duffy asked Dray for a breakdown of how many establishments are in each Risk Class.
In other matters, health nurse Stephanie Summers issued a reminder that flu shots are still available, with appointments strongly encouraged. Appointments and more information are available by calling her at 330-385-5123.