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NR City Council to investigate food truck policy

City Finance Director Rae Ann Ailts presented three financial scenarios for council members to consider and a timeline leading to an adopted budget by December in time to issue tax bills in January. Submitted image

At their work session Monday night Aug. 27, members of the New Richmond City Council took the first step toward establishing policy to address the operation of food trucks within city limits.

A request by Roger Keopple to park a truck at Freedom Park to serve at youth football practices through the end of October spurred a vigorous discussion among council members.

Issues involved with food truck operation include impact on established brick and mortar restaurants, licensing at all levels of government from the state down to the municipality, and fee structure.

Alderman Jim Jackson shared with the council from his experience with regard to operation and licensing of food truck businesses.

"This is kind of my world. In a lot of the cities we deal with, they have certain locations only where the trucks can go. In Eau Claire for example, they allow trucks in only four parks, they restrict the hours they can be there and they have to stay so many feet, say 150 feet, from the door of an existing food establishment. So we need to look at protecting the downtown businesses," said Jackson.

Jackson addressed some of the practical considerations and licensing.

"We need to be precise about handling waste and waste water. He's (Keopple) probably self-contained, but wherever I go, they always spell out wastewater requirements including back flow meters on your water sources, they spell out how you dispose of grease and where you can and cannot dump grease. There's a lot for us to consider here," said Jackson.

"There can be multiple licenses for one food item running from the city to the county to the state. Requiring health inspections in conjunction with licensing and the same with posting of your license or your seller's permit needs to be considered. Insuring the public's health and safety is our first directive," added Alderperson Scottie Ard.

The council approved Keopple's request on a temporary basis contingent on his obtaining consent from the Football Association and with the understanding that issue of a fee will be revisited once the council has had time to research policy considerations further.

Oh, deer

In response to a letter from residents of the West & East River Drive/Summit Road/Fairfield Road neighborhood regarding damage to flowering plants and other vegetation by deer, the Council suggested a multi-pronged approach to remedy the problem.

City staff will make available on social media maps indicating areas where bow hunting is permitted within city limits as well as the rules accompanying that hunting including obtaining permission from the owners of private property. They will also remind and educate community members about the ordinance outlawing the feeding of deer.

Budget time

City Finance Director Rae Ann Ailts officially kicked off the 2019 Budget Review process by handing out copies of the 2018 Budget Book and providing an overview of how property tax dollars are spent. She also provided a look at the ten-year history of the city's mill rate, the distinction between equalized value and assessed value, the city's 2019 Budget Vision Statement:

"The City of New Richmond strives to be a destination for our residents, businesses and employees. We seek to create an efficient, inclusive budget process driven by fiscal responsibility. We challenge ourselves to allow for greater innovation, collaboration and transparency through a fun, community driven process."

The review concluded with statements from each of the seven department heads (General Government, Police, Fire, Public Works, Library, Airport and Community Development) summarizing what they see as the needs and goals for their departments in this budget. Each department's percentage of the budget was depicted graphically along with its actual revenues and expenditures for 2016 and 2017 and budgeted revenues and expenditures for 2018.

Ailts presented three financial scenarios for council members to consider and a timeline leading to an adopted budget by December in time to issue tax bills in January.

Police Chief Craig Yehlik reported that Officer Aaron Anderson began his duties as the new Student Resource Officer (SRO) at the high school this week.