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Vendors won’t need business license

One-day permit fees to be considered
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Vendors at Lincoln events such as the Rib Festival and ClayFest could in the near future be charged a fee by the city to display their wares here. The conclusion after a Jan. 20 meeting held by City Manager Jim Estep and Assistant City Manager/Chief Financial Officer Anna Jatczak is that the city will look at whether vendors will pay a fee to work at events here. The meeting was set up after Jeff Greenberg, a nonprofit organization president, expressed concerns to Estep and Mayor Paul Joiner after a Jan. 11 city meeting about vendors being charged a business license fee. Greenberg said he was told by a recreation department employee during the Jan. 11 city special events and incidents committee meeting that “all event vendors would be required to have a Lincoln business license.” Founder and president of Friends of Lincoln Kids, Greenberg presents the annual Rib Fest and Italian Festival. “In my opinion, based on our research with other cities and vendors, vendors would not come back because the cost is not charged by the majority of cities in the region and they couldn’t afford to come to events if that happened,” Greenberg said. “We bring a lot of people into town and the businesses that are open during those Saturdays have told us that their business has doubled and tripled.” During the Jan. 20 meeting, Jatczak said a business license fee “will not be imposed” on vendors at events. However, the city could still collect other fees from vendors. “We need to do some research and figure out whether we will charge a fee for a one day or two-day event,” Jatczak said. “We are going to consider a one-day permit fee.” Jatczak said the city will research what other cities charge vendors and then put together a recommendation for City Council. Estep said this would happen “as a part of the budget preparation and we would ultimately have it done by the end of June.” Estep said the one-day permit fee would be “less than the cost of a business license” but the price has yet to be determined. Residents pay $60 for a business license with an additional $15 tacked on if it’s a home business, according to the city of Lincoln’s public information officer Jill Thompson. Non-residents pay $60 for a general business license or $80 per person who is going door-to-door, Thompson said. “What we want to know is who is doing business in the city for tracking purposes? Should they pay sales tax?” Estep said. “If we get any complaints about a vendor, we have no idea who that vendor is and we want to be able to assist people.” The fee would “cover the price of administrative costs,” Estep said, and “isn’t to make money.” Another option, Estep said, is to require each event organizer to provide the name and contact information for each vendor coming into the city for events. Estep said the events that could be affected include the Rib Festival, organized by Greenberg, and the Farmers’ Market that takes place during the summer time and is organized by the Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce. Also attending the Jan. 20 meeting were Lincoln Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Bob Romness and Leslie Campbell, owner of downtown store The Green Goat. Romness puts on events with vendors and Campbell is considering doing so. Before the Jan. 20 meeting, Campbell said she would like to organize a craft show in October. She was “concerned about the prospect of vendors being charged a business license.” “I think a single-use permit is good,” Campbell said. The city benefits from community downtown events, according to Campbell. “Let’s bring people into Lincoln,” Campbell said. “They go get ice cream, shop, and whether they buy or not, they’ve seen it so they have exposure. It’s a moment to promote our town.” Lincoln Arts, another nonprofit organization, plans annual events including Clay Fest and Feats of Clay. Lincoln Arts’ executive director Claudia Renati said a one-time fee for vendors could compromise her events “since it would be an additional fee on top of what they already charge vendors.” “I think it would keep vendors from coming into the city and harm the nonprofits who count on vendor fees,” Renati said. “For Clay Fest, we charge $25 a space that helps us bring artists out to give kids a hands-on clay experience.” Renati added that events are good for the city, “in more ways than one.” “If we don’t offer programs to the community, the public would miss out on the art part, the cultural aspect of Lincoln that we have to offer,” Renati said. “Fun programs that bring people into the community that bring tax dollars into the community through sales tax.” The News Messenger asked Romness how the possible fee could affect events organized by the chamber of commerce. “I suppose it would depend on the amount of fee but I don’t want to speculate until I get an idea of what they will charge,” Romness said. “We are one of the organizations that puts on events so I’d be happy to give them (the city) some input.”