By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
MEREDITH — A proposal to charge itinerant vendors plying their trades during Motorcycle Week is among eight articles on the warrant for Town Meeting on Wednesday.
Despite misgivings expressed by the owners of both Laconia Harley-Davidson and Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant, who together host vendors during the rally, the Board of Selectmen unanimously recommended introducing a licensing fee.
Mirroring the precedent of Laconia, the ordinance would 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 and $500 for food services, 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 could be fined up to $500 for each day of unlawful operation. The licensing fee would first be charged in 2017.
The licensing fee is intended to defray the cost of municipal services incurred during the rally. Town Manager Phil Warren said that in 2015 expenses were $18,017, 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 from special use permits issued to Laconia Harley-Davidson and Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant at $330 apiece.
Anne Deli, the owner of Laconia Harley-Davidson, has repeatedly warned the selectmen against imposing the licensing fees, which she believes will deter vendors from operating at the rally. When the licensing fee was first proposed, she asked "Does Meredith rally want to put one more nail in the coffin of Motorcycle Week?"
Russ Hart of Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant told the board the proposal was "not welcoming" and said "we don't need anything to diminish Motorcyle Week."
A petitioned warrant article to rescind the designation of Blueberry Hill Road on Meredith Neck as a scenic road may also spark some discussion.
Other articles on the warrant include the 2016 town budget of $13.7 million, which represents an increase of less than 1 percent, and four warrant articles which together would add $460,000 in expenditures. One would raise $300,000 for the fund to replace equipment of the Department of Public Work's, another would raise $100,000 for the fund to replace vehicles of the Fire Department and the last would raise $60,000 for the fund to replace the solid waste trailer. By accruing these expendable trust funds the town the town can apply cash to all or part of the price of expensive equipment and vehicles and eliminate or reduce the cost of borrowing.
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