Columbus increases permit fee for food trucks  

Published 10:40 am Friday, August 4, 2023

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COLUMBUS—The Columbus Town Council recently raised the permit fee for food trucks to operate within town limits, and some businesses have concerns with the decision. 

At its meeting held June 14, Town Manager Tim Barth suggested that the council needed to set a firm fee for food truck permits since July 1 would be the beginning of the fiscal year. At the time, the permit fee for food trucks was $75 for six months. 

Councilman Mark Phillips made a motion to set the permit fee to $250 for a 30-day permit. Councilwoman Becky Kennedy seconded, and the motion was passed unanimously.

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For comparison, Tryon charges $100 per year for a food truck permit. 

The increase came as a surprise to some local business owners, including Rodney Dofort of Iron Key Brewing Company, which recently began hosting food trucks within its own fenced property. 

“The issue isn’t that they had to set the fee, it’s that they had to change the $75 for six months to $250 for one month,” said Dofort. “There were comments made that food trucks are not a good look for the town, from the point of view of parking and the appearance of the service area.” 

Councilman Phillips explained why the council chose to increase the permit fee.

“The biggest reason (for the fee increase) was food trucks don’t have to pay taxes, they don’t have brick and mortar, they don’t have to pay sewer. We didn’t want to give them an advantage over businesses participating in our community,” said Phillips. “It’s easy for these food trucks to make a quick buck and not give back to the community. It’s really not a bad deal at $250 a month in my personal opinion.” 

We’re a very small, close community and we want to make sure that the guys and gals that have permanency here don’t lose out on their business.”

Town Manager Barth says that no fee is set in stone. 

“Any of our fees can be changed,” said Barth. “Our schedule of fees is adopted as part of our budget ordinance every year. We adopt a schedule of fees, and if need be that schedule can change if some information becomes available that leads them to a different conclusion about what a specific fee could be.” 

In response to the fee increase, Iron Key has invited the Columbus council members to its brewery on Monday, August 14 to get a first-hand look at the effect food trucks have on the town. 

Dofort says he intends to address the council at its next meeting on Thursday, August 17.