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County to consider lowering its food truck permit fees

Madison County is considering reducing permit fees for food trucks by more than half, a move that could help bolster the growing trend.

The Health Department Committee discussed amending the county’s food sanitation ordinance on Friday. The committee voted 4-1 to reduce the annual fee from $375 to $175.

Director of Public Health Toni Corona said there are 18 licensed mobile establishments in the county. The health department charges fees for food permit licenses based on three categories of food establishments.

Mobile food trucks are considered Category 1 and Category 2 establishments and are inspected the same as “brick and mortar” restaurant and eateries.

Category 1 and 1a facilities receive three inspections per year, or two inspections per year if one of the following conditions is met:
• A certified food service manager is present at all times the facility is in operation; or
• Employees involved in food operations receive HACCP training exercise, in-service training in another food service sanitation area or attend an educational conference on food safety or sanitation.
Category 2 and 2a facilities shall receive one inspection per year.

Corona said the fees cover administrative costs within the health department.

“All our fees are used to offset the food sanitation program,” she said.

Corona said she compared Madison County’s food truck fees to adjacent counties, including: St. Clair ($78 to $100 for six months), Jersey ($100), St. Louis ($150), St. Charles ($150), and Sangamon ($591).

She said the $200 cost of a plan review fee would remain the same. That cost is similar as other counties.

The county established rules and permit fees involving the operation of food trucks in 2018.

During the May committee meeting, Alton city officials and the owners of Alton’s new food truck park — Flock — asked the county to consider reducing the permit fee to attract more food trucks to Madison County.

County Board member Mike Babcock and chair of the health department committee, said he believed lowering the fee would foster economic activity for the county.

County Board member Terry Eaker and health committee member said he was against lowering the fees as he didn’t feel that food trucks should pay less than established restaurants in the same categories.

The Finance Committee will further discuss the issue at 4 p.m. June 9 before the County Board’s anticipated votes on the fee change at its 5 p.m. June 15 meeting.

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