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The City Journals

Reduced food truck vendor permit approved

Jun 23, 2017 10:08AM ● By Jana Klopsch

A sampling of Udder Joy Creamery’s tasty frozen treats. (Jake Gifford/Udder Joy Creamery)

By Becca Ketelsleger | [email protected]

Across the country, an easily recognizable and refreshingly local phenomenon can be seen driving down the road: the food truck. From waffles to Korean barbecue to chicken wings, these mobile delicatessens are not a new trend, but they are one that is growing rapidly.

According to an article published by The Economist on May 14, 2017, “America now boasts over 4,000 food trucks.” The same article sites that while the restaurant industry in Salt Lake City grew roughly 20 percent between 2010 and 2016, the food truck industry grew over 400 percent during that same time period. 

With such rapid growth come issues each individual city will have to address. The two most prominent of these issues in the minds of the West Jordan City Council are what fees food truck vendors will be required to pay in order to operate within city limits and how sales tax is to be monitored by the city and paid from the vendors. 

These questions were addressed at the May 24 city council meeting.

The main item up for approval in regard to the food truck industry was the introduction of the “secondary vendor permit” fee in the amount of $120. This permit allows businesses that are already licensed in another city to be able to sell within a second city. 

This amount was met with some concern. 

“What do we do for that $120?” asked Councilman David Newton.

City attorney David R. Brickey said it will essentially be a processing fee for the licensing department to verify the truck is properly licensed through their city of origin. 

“I will indicate to you there are some cities who are not charging anything,” Brickey concluded.

After further discussion, the lowering of the fee to $20, instead of $120, was proposed. 

“I hate to break it to you, but I pay more for my dog than $20,” said West Jordan resident Steve Jones, who spoke out against the lowered fee during the public hearing. “They are coming in and collecting money in West Jorda, and they should be required to pay a fee in order to do that. Every business is the same, and they shouldn’t have a free ride. Twenty dollars is nothing.” 

After much discussion, the fee schedule was amended and approved with the new fee of $20. 

This approval though was perhaps partially contingent on the hope that by lowering the fee, West Jordan would be able to have more vendors coming to the area and paying their sales tax to the city. 

“I would be in favor of the $20 fee to encourage them to come out here so that we can start working with them to become compliant on remitting that sales tax,” said Councilman Chris McConnehey. 

However, this gathering of sales tax will not be a reality. City Ordinance 17-29 was passed later in the council meeting. This ordinance brings West Jordan into compliance with Utah State Senate bill 250, which was passed in the 2017 general session. The ordinance states that food trucks will not need to receive a special sales tax number in a secondary city unless the sales are at an event where other vendors will be, such as a rodeo or fair. All sales tax otherwise will go to the city of origin and not the city where the sale is made. 

Despite the inability to collect sales tax from food trucks operating in other cities, the lowering of the secondary vendor permit may have another desired effect for West Jordan. 

On Feb. 21, prior to her senate bill 250 passing, Sen. Deidre Henderson posted a visual on her Facebook page. The visual stated that the fees associated with operating a food truck in West Jordan for a six-month period are $1,400, and that food trucks are “prohibited from operating in the city the other six months of the year.” Out of the 13 cities shown on the visual, West Jordan’s fees were nearly double the next highest city shown. 

While the information in this image has proven to be false both regarding the fees involved and the length of time the permits allow for, a larger issue remains: public perception regarding West Jordan’s approach to its business fee schedule.

“It's not just food trucks…West Jordan is very business un-friendly,” wrote one Facebook user. 

“Even though it (the graphic) was incorrect, it got a lot of people making comments about West Jordan and did not make us look good,” said Councilmember Dirk Burton at the May 24 city council meeting. “This is part of the reason I wanted to go with the $20 fee and make it small, so that we don’t have that false reputation popping out there again.” 

Currently, there is only one food truck vendor licensed in West Jordan, a soft-serve ice cream truck named Udder Joy Creamery. 

“We are based here partially because the owners own other businesses in West Jordan,” said Jake Gifford of Udder Joy Creamery.