Food truck business allowed as city works out details

City Council
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     A new, potentially good problem presented itself to the Monticello City Council at its recent meeting.

     Holly and Juan Trevino addressed the council during the Open Forum at the Oct. 1 meeting. The couple wishes to see a change in the fee the city charges for transient merchants.

     However, the Trevinos plan to offer a food truck service in Monticello, which does fit the definition of a transient merchant.

     “We have not had food trucks except at special events,” said City Administrator Doug Herman.

     He said bigger cities like Dubuque and Cedar Rapids address food truck permits separately (and have separate rules) in their city ordinances. “Those are rules we’ve never considered here,” added Herman.

     Holly said they plan to park their food truck in the industrial park in Monticello to serve the employees who work in the factories and don’t have a lot of time to leave work for lunch.

     She was given an application from the police chief regarding being a transient merchant, but felt the fee was too excessive. Monticello charges $1,000 for six months, or $1,500 for a year. Holly said her research showed that Dubuque charges $100 a year per location and Cedar Rapids is $550 a year. She felt middle ground might be $250 in Monticello, considering the size of the city as well.

     “I’d like to keep my business local,” she said.

     She wants to offer her food truck service five days a week during the lunch hour. She said the health department has inspected the truck, with a final inspection set for tomorrow (Oct. 2).

     Council member Tom Yeoman asked Herman if the council could expedite the code amendment process at all in this matter. Herman said the Trevinos could go into business while the council worked through the ordinance process.

     “They could maintain certain hours while the rules get fully developed,” Herman offered. He said as long as the food truck was on private property, and not in the city right of way, he didn’t see an immediate issue.

     Typically an ordinance takes three separate readings to go into effect, three separate council meetings.

     The couple would still have to fill out the permit application, and present proof of insurance/liability and a food license.

     “I am not in favor of not having any kind of regulations,” said Yeoman of establishing some rules and getting a fee in place. “Other businesses in town are paying taxes.”

     The council gave the Trevinos their blessing to move forward with the food truck business as they worked out the kinks in establishing an ordinance and applicable fee.

In other council business:

     • The council approved a water service line cost-share agreement between the city and Cliff Payne for a water issue that affected E. First Street.     

     The total cost of the repairs was $8,430.09. The agreement states Payne would pay half, or $4,215.04, with half of that amount due by Dec. 1 and the second half by March 1. Payne has already paid the first half.

     • The council awarded a bid for repairs to the downtown clock tower to Barnhart Construction. Two bids were received from Barnhart (58,294) and Kraus Kustom Builders ($56,546). While Kraus was the lowest overall bid by $1,748 (including the base bid and bid alternate), the council felt Barnhart’s proposal was more to their liking.

     One issue was allowing Kraus to set up scaffolding versus the use of a lift.

     “I am not comfortable with scaffolding on the roof,” voiced Yeoman. To that, Council member Butch Pratt agreed.

     While Kraus could perform the work yet this fall, Brock Barnhart felt he wasn’t able to get to the job until early spring. Herman said the city’s insurance adjuster was fine with the timeline, so long as the city had someone under contract before the end of the year. (The work being performed is due to hail damage from 2014.)

     • The council approved a 28E agreement between the city and the Monticello Community School District for a school resource officer. Monticello Police Department Sgt. Dawn Graver would move into the position, splitting her time between the MPD and the school district.

     • The council tabled action to amend city code Chapter 50.10 Animal Protection and Control to allow residents to have pitbulls as emotional support dogs within city limits.

     Herman said based on the committee’s recommendation, the consensus was to keep the pitbull ban in place at this time.

     Council member Dave Goedken felt it was also important for the committee to recommend to the council an ordinance that would stand up against scrutiny.



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