MEREDITH — Vendors at Laconia Motorcycle Week may have to fork over some money to the town for the privilege of having a booth, despite their complaints about such fees this summer.
Town Manager Phil Warren said yesterday that selectmen are reconsidering a proposal to levy the fees to cover town costs, an idea which was tabled in August after meeting resistance from Laconia Harley-Davidson, Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant, American Police Motorcycle Museum.
Warren said the proposal was revived during a brief discussion of the process for preparing the 2016 town budget when the selectmen met Monday evening. He said that the issue will most likely be discussed in the course of reviewing revenues from sources other than property taxes when the selectmen hold three workshops on the budget on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and 2.
In August, selectmen considered a proposal to require all transient vendors, other than nonprofit organizations soliciting donations toward a charitable purpose, to be licensed by the town at a fee of $450, which would entitle them to operate from noon on the first Friday until midnight on the last Sunday of the rally. Vendors operating without a license would be liable to a fine of failure to obtain a license would carry a fine of up to $500 for each day of unlawful operation.
Warren told the board that the fees were intended to defray the costs to the town of providing police and emergency services during the rally. This year, he explained, the town incurred expenses of $18,017 during the event, which consisted of $7,149 for police overtime, $5,868 for fire service and $5,000 in dues for the town's membership in the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association. Revenues amounted to $660, which represented special use permits issued to Laconia Harley-Davidson and Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant at $330 apiece.
Anne Deli, president of Laconia Harley-Davidson, warned that if the town levies a vendor fee "We will lose vendors."
"Does Meredith really want to put one more nail in the coffin of Motorcycle Week?" she asked.
If vendors fees sap income from the dealership, Deli said, the costs would have to be offset by reducing employment, charitable contributions or marketing expenses, all of which would adversely impact the rally itself.
Warren said that if selectmen choose to introduce the vendor fees, he would recommend presenting a warrant article to Town Meeting in March. He explained that there is some question about the authority of the selectmen to enact ordinances, which would be dispelled by a vote of Town Meeting.
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