Vending Oversight Committee amends licensing ordinance for street vendors

Vendors, including those on Library Mall, will experience an increase in fees if the ordinance passes.

Image By: Betsy Osterberger

The Vending Oversight Committee met at the Dane County Municipal Building Wednesday evening to amend a series of licensing fees ordinances for downtown street vendors.

The first series of amended ordinances, which passed unanimously, creates what is known as an Umbrella Basic Street Vendor License, and gives vending businesses the option to register an unlimited number of workers with city government for $450 per year.

According to District 4 Alder and amendment sponsor Mike Verveer, the current ordinance requires a license fee be paid for any worker interacting with the public, whether it be handling cash or delivering food.

As stated in the ordinance’s legislative draft, the license fee is currently $150 per year on top of any necessary specialty licenses, which includes food vending and arts and crafts.

According to Verveer, the new amendment gives vendors the option to pay one universal fee to cover all workers, instead of requiring separate licenses.

In addition to the umbrella amendment, the committee unanimously voted to increase a series of street vending fees.

The vending fees, according to Verveer, serve a variety of purposes including “funding to the Public Health Department for important health inspections [as well as] funding for downtown programming.”

The amendments to this ordinance would increase fees for vendors near State Street and Capitol Square from an annual $850 to $1000. Fees for vendors in the southeast campus area, which ranges from Union South to Grainger Hall, will increase from $150 to $200.

Verveer said he thinks the new ordinances will benefit the city. He especially emphasized the redistribution of licensing fees to downtown programming.

“Every single dollar of the fee increase will go toward programming downtown in the State Street, Capitol Square area,” he said.

Late last year, the Madison Common Council similarly approved a license fee increase for sidewalk cafes, which Verveer noted will also contribute to downtown programming, such as live entertainment and music.

In order for both ordinances to take effect throughout the downtown area, the Common Council will have to deliberate and approve the amendments.

Both the umbrella vending license and licensing fee increase will be addressed later this year.

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