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Hot Dog Vendor: Permit Fee to Double 'All at Once'

Chiming 'Jimmy' Yang understands why fee hike is proposed, but wishes it was gradual.

Chiming "Jimmy" Yang has operated his hot dog cart on Main Street in Madison since about 1990.

In his more than 20 years in business, the annual fee for a "mobile food vendor" license from the borough has always been $500.

But if he plans to keep selling hot dogs—and he does—the fee will double to $1,000 starting next year under a new rate to be voted on by the Borough Council at its meeting Wednesday.

The fee hike is part of a proposed law that also has an element Yang sees as good news: as long as he renews his license, there would be limits on potential competition. The borough will cap the number of annual mobile food vendor licenses it gives out at three, down from the current maximum of five.

The law also adds the borough zoning officer to the location approval and enforcement process, and is designed to protect the borough's brick and mortar businesses, Councilman Robert Landrigan said in presenting the ordinance at the last council meeting.

Landrigan said the $500 increase amounts to about $2 a day and puts the fee in line with other fee increases in the borough over the years.

"As you go through other ordinances, these things kind of jump out," Landrigan said Tuesday. He said it's not to be punitive to any vendor, but to be sure the borough has a better handle on regulating vendors.

"It was time to update it," he said.

A farmer who sells produce in the parking lot behind the former Esposito's market on Elmer Street, and another food truck that operates at a cleaners were identified as the two other "mobile food vendors" in Madison.

Yang said he agrees with increasing the price somewhat, "but double is too much for me." He would have rather seen it increase more gradually, though he doesn't expect the law will change.

His operating costs also include insurance and a license from the Board of Health, he said.

Yang's wife operates a hot dog cart in Summit, the city where they live with their 10-year-old son. Yang, who sometimes practices tai chi at the cart near Waverly Place, said he plans to keep selling hot dogs because it is the business that he knows.

The public portion of Wednesday's Borough Council meeting is scheduled for 8 p.m. in Hartley Dodge Memorial.

Steve Wells October 09, 2012 at 09:59 PM
And yet again Republicans - still the majority on Council until January 1 - strike a blow, not FOR the little guy and small business, but AGAINST. Double the guy's rates in recessionary times. Just a hint of what would happen on a larger scale if Republicans were to get elected at the state and national level. Of ALL people to pick on, over a lousy $500. Shame on you.
Mary McCann October 10, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Some people will blame Republicans if it rains and they can't find their umbrellas. Restaurants downtown, also small businesses, pay property taxes either directly as landlords or indirectly as renters. No doubt their daily cost is greater than $2 a day. Shouldn't everyone pay his "fair share"?
The Madison Truth Squad October 10, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Wow, he might have to charge a whole $.05 per hot dog extra to cover the increase. More faux outrage from Madison's version of Will McAvoy. At $1,000 per year having a corner to yourself in downtown Madison is a bargain, just ask any of the nearby merchants who are spending more than that on a weekly basis for rent. And if you really want to be the champion of the middle class Madisonians, how about showing some concern for how much more Ms. Baillie will raise our taxes and utility rates if she gets back on the council. Last time she had a seat at the table we saw our property taxes jump by 45%, our water rates climb by 60%, and our electricity rates explode by 80%! And she keeps promising us a return to her previous council leadership model. I think we can all live with a nickel increase in the price of a hot dog, but we cannot stand a combined $4,000 to 5,000 annual increase in our property taxes and utilities bills.
Brian Shores October 10, 2012 at 04:54 AM
If a brick and mortar has to be protected from a hot dog cart, maybe they shouldn't be in the restaurant business in the first place.
Catherine with a K October 10, 2012 at 10:51 AM
Tell you what, you have my property taxes stay the same for the next 20 years and I promise I won't complain if you double them after that.
Steve Wells October 10, 2012 at 12:16 PM
If ever a string of comments illustrates how right-wingers miss the point, this is it. Not even the vendor is complaining that there's an increase, simply that it's a 100% increase all at once rather than spread out over 2 or 3 years. And yet not one of the opposing posts expresses ANY concern as to the real-world fairness of this, or how it will impact him. The guy couldn't be making much of a profit on the cart as it is, and no doubt is struggling to make ends meet like most of the middle class. A classic example of why I left the Republican Party after over 40 years, a tone-deafness to people's needs.
kcd October 10, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Maybe he should become a janitor and make $80,000 a year while our taxes go up!
my2cents October 10, 2012 at 12:32 PM
He has a totally CASH business, Hmmm... I think he is doing OK
Stephen Mindnich October 10, 2012 at 01:27 PM
I think it's great that Democrats are finally angry over raising taxes and more government regulation on small business. Welcome back to America.
kcd October 10, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Get over yourself Steve, stop using a hot dog vendor to illustrate your blow hard liberal views on the middle class getting the shaft. I doubt this guy even wants you to convey his politics. We all know you're a republican hater. Ask anyone who has opened a business in Madison how permits have skyrocketed, from parking to upgrades, signage and fire inspections. Add rent and overhead to that. It's next to impossible for anyone to make a profit. No one cares about a cash business on a sidewalk where the vendor doesn't even pay property taxes in Madison. Get on a more worthy soapbox Stevie.
vee October 10, 2012 at 04:07 PM
If I want to open a hot dog stand. Do I have to pay for a license? I'm A Army veteran
Mary McCann October 10, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Anyone wonder what the peddler's fee is in Summit where Mr. Yang's wife runs a sidewalk hot dog stand? I did and looked it up. The "mobile food vendor's" annual fee is $809 plus $578 for a fixed location, an annual cost of $1,387. Madison's new yearly fee of $1,000 is a bargain. Rather than rail at the doubling of the cost, let's look at the glass half-full. Mr. Yang saved thousands of dollars over the past 20 or so years, compliments of taxpayers. Memo to bitter partisans: taxes are neither Democrat nor Republican; they're either reasonable or not..
The Madison Truth Squad October 10, 2012 at 04:46 PM
"Not one of the opposing posts expresses ANY concern . . or how it will impact him." Go back and read my comment. This increase is soooo small that a NICKEL increase in the price of a hot dog or drink will easily cover it. That won't even be noticed by the poorest Drew U student stopping by for lunch. On the other hand, where's your concern for the MASSIVE impact former councilwoman Baillie has had on all our pocketbooks?? Thousands in annual property tax and utility bill increases, way beyond the cost of living increases during the same period of time. And she did this while drawing down the borough's surplus accounts AND borrowing tens of millions of dollars. And you're ranting a raving about a nickel increase in the price of a hot dog?!!
CoolBreeze October 10, 2012 at 05:42 PM
I was wondering when the commander was going to reappear as he's been quiet for a little while. And bam, out he comes on his valiant charger with the fervor of John Brown himself rallying his troops against the evil of those nasty Republicans (who have not voted yet) who want to punish the little guy! Oh woe to you Republicans, he cries while brandishing his righteous sword of ridiculous analogy as he compares this minimal, overdue increase in fess to what would happen to the middle class if Republicans win State or Federal elections. Man, I can't wait to see his retraction if any of the 5 R's on council vote against it, or if the one D votes for it.
Larry Bruce October 10, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Must be a good day for you "Truth". You got an opportunity to spread the same mis-information twice and all over hotdogs. Read the letter to editor in last week's Eagle by Joann Burke. PS - the idea of a guy calling himself Truth with a phony name is pretty fuuny.
Steve Wells October 10, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Another anonymous coward flails in his spewing of right-wing venom. I broke my rule of not debating with phantoms, so I'll focus on Mary's thoughts. Again, I don't oppose an increase, just one of 100% all at once. $500 may not seem like much, but this is where there's a right-wing disconnect with the real world...to many, many people it's QUITE a lot. If there should have been incremental increases all along, that's the fault of the borough government, not Mr. Yang. Everything is relative, and I can only imagine the (rightful) outcry if Council were to double the tax on any business with four walls.
The Madison Truth Squad October 10, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Talk to Mr. Wells, he started this whole mishegoss, we're just providing the Truth. As for Ms. Burke's letter, we could almost see Ms. Baillie's mouth move as I read through it. It was also amazing that she (Astri) blamed a 45% tax increase, a 60% water rate increase, an 80% electric rate increase, and millions taken from the surplus accounts on an event that, at best, cost the borough several hundred thousand dollars. She also conveniently left off the fact that all councils use some or all of the prior year's surplus, but as long as they aren't exceeding that number, all is well. Unfortunately for Madisonians, unlike this year, where the overall surplus will not be drawn down, during the Baillie years, millions were drained as councils consistently spent more than they took in. Which is amazing, given the 6% average property tax increases and the tens of millions in debt that was incurred during the same Golden Years.
Catherine with a K October 10, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Right, Steve, the guy would have been better off with a 5% per year increase over 20 years. . . . if you don't see what a boon this guy got by having his overhead stay the same for 20 years. . . well, I'll just end it there to avoid being flagged as inappropriate!
Steve Wells October 10, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Just to make clear, I never said 5% per year over 20 years, you did, Katherine. Also interesting to note that almost ALL of the right-wingers use screen names to hide their true identity. Wonder why.
Madison Cyclist October 10, 2012 at 11:17 PM
If anyone is sincerely concerned about this small businessman then buy more of his hotdogs.
The Madison Truth Squad October 10, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Mr. Wells doesn't care about the vendor, he's just using the story to score cheap political points. It's his MO.
The Madison Truth Squad October 10, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Probably because we all have real lives and aren't dying for attention. It's also interesting that the only factual piece of information provided by the people who use their real names is just that, their name. Everything else is hyperbole, spin and lies, written in the most hysterical manner possible.
Catherine with a K October 10, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Steve let me break this down for you: If the fee was increased $25 per year over 20 years, he would have paid $5,250 more than he is. So on what planet would this guy have been better off if they increased it gradually over 20 years???
Catherine with a K October 10, 2012 at 11:50 PM
steve, and I wonder why you seem so much more interested in ad hominem attacks than discussing the merits of a position. 5% a year or raising it $250 every 10 years -- he's still better off having the rate stay flat for 20 years for chrissake.

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