New state law brings ‘transient merchants’ selling fireworks

City Council
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Residents of Monticello and those traveling through, driving past Karde’s 151 might notice a couple of large temporary tents selling fireworks in town. Per a new state law in Iowa, this is legal.

     Both vendors have secured the proper paperwork from the state to legally sell fireworks anywhere in Iowa. During the recent Monticello City Council meeting on June 18, City Administrator Doug Herman informed the council that city code does not supersede state law.

     “This is a new issue for us,” warned Herman.

     These two merchants are described in city code as “transient merchants.” Herman said the merchants have agreed to complete an application with the city to sell merchandise within city limits; however, he said they have an issue with paying the $1,000 fee spelled out in the city code. (They must pay a $500 fire marshal inspection fee with the state.)

     Herman said the city raised the fee for “transient merchants” to discourage/prohibit the action in city limits. The fee is $300 for one week, but it jumps to $1,000 for six months. Herman felt the fireworks vendors might only be selling for three to four weeks.

     Herman said some provisions of the city code might have to be amended to coincide with the new state law. Though there is pending litigation in Des Moines in terms of what control cities could have in this matter.

     Council member Tom Yeoman asked whether the city could restrict the timeframe of sales. Herman simply said no.

     “We could restrict the areas where they sell by modifying our zoning ordinance,” Herman said. Fareway in located in C1 and Karde’s 151 is in C3, both commercially zoned areas.

     The council voted to have Herman draft a new city ordinance in line with the state law, and to charge vendors $100 a week, for a maximum of $300.

     “I feel $1,000 is a little excessive,” commented Council member Tom Yeoman.

     Herman said the city does spend time, manpower and resources to verify the vendors have the proper state permits/inspections.

     “It does bring additional traffic to those parts of town,” Herman said, meaning Fareway and Karde’s could get more congested than normal.

     Police Chief Britt Smith said the vendors are required to provide their own 24/7 monitoring and security.

     “But we still maintain our police presence in the community,” noted Herman, another city expense.

     The council will look to review and possibly approve the first reading of the ordinance at their next meeting.

In other city business:

     • The council approved an agreement between the city and Faust Construction, Inc. (Brandon and Ashley Faust).

     The agreement was needed to finalize the public infrastructure improvements in the Willow Ridge Addition. The city previously approved an agreement with developer Bob Faust, but due to his extended illness, Herman felt a new agreement needed to be put in place with Brandon Faust, Bob’s power of attorney.

     The agreement provides that the city will pay for the necessary improvements, and Faust will reimburse the city for those improvements upon sale of one of the remaining lots.

     • The council approved a Supplemental Agreement between the city and Iowa DOT for maintenance on primary roads in Monticello. The city should be reimbursed $9,284 to cover general maintenance of sections of Highway 38 in city limits.

     • The council approved wage increases for non-bargaining city staff for FY 2019.

     The city clerk (current salary of $61,572), public works director (current salary of $52,530), and police chief (current salary of $63,532) will receive a 2.5 percent wage increase. The Police Department’s administrative assistant/local access coordinator (current wage of $17.68 an hour) will receive a 45-cent-an-hour increase. Herman’s contract does not call for a wage increase for this new fiscal year.

     Herman said he would review the Parks and Rec director’s contract concerning a wage increase.

     • The council acknowledged the hourly wage increases for library staff and the director, per the library board’s approval: Michelle Turnis from $18.96 to $19.23, MaDonna Thoma-Kremer from $10.90 to $11.50, Penny Schmit from $11.96 to $12.50, and Molli Hunter from $8.50 to $8.85.

     • Based on the ADA sidewalk compliance discussion at a previous council meeting, Herman felt the city should add language to the city’s building permit application to put contractors on notice.

     “The city will not be the decision-maker as to whether the sidewalk meets compliance or not,” Herman clarified. “We will just provide guidance to the builder to verify compliance.”

     • Parks and Rec Superintendent Casey Reyner resigned from his job, effective last week. Based on word of mouth, several people applied for the position. Herman said a committee of city staff and Parks and Rec board members interviewed four applicants.

     “Some are very qualified,” he said. “We had a better candidate pool now than when we advertised.”

     Herman said the goal is to fill the position sooner rather than later to have someone to manage the Aquatic Center.



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