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Council ponders means to keep tabs on mobile food vendors in Forest City

Council ponders means to keep tabs on mobile food vendors in Forest City

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After a lengthy discussion on how to treat unlicensed food trucks and mobile food vendors, the Forest City City Council directed City Attorney Steve Bakke to draft an ordinance for consideration at its May 17 meeting.

Councilman Dan Davis said mobile food vendors are highly regulated by the state, unlike door-to-door sales people. The former police chief said he's talked to several operators who did not think they needed a license at locations including Bomgaars and Hy-Vee.

He said there have been other vendors at the annual Country Thunder music festival who he doubts had licenses. Davis noted the city does not routinely send police to check vendors at events such as Country Thunder or RAGBRAI.

Several council members noted the city owes it to citizens to know who is operating in town. City Clerk Daisy Huffman said mobile vendors must be invited to operate on private property, so a license is not a pass for all venues. She suggested there needs to be additional guidance as to where they can be.

Nancy Hertzer, director of the Forest City Chamber of Commerce, said officials would like to see some controls over such operations. Mayor Barney Ruiter suggested the issue could be reviewed by the safety committee.

Assuming vendors are licensed by the state, which should have applicable information, council members reached a consensus that mobile vendors should present credentials to operate in town. The council will await the draft ordinance and further direction from the city attorney before proceeding on the matter.

The council unanimously approved an ordinance establishing a 3% increase in municipal electric rates effective June 16. Residential customers will see a monthly meter charge of $7.31 per meter and electric usage rate of 10.9 cents per kilowatt hour, up from 10.6 cents.

The council also unanimously approved an agreement with WHKS for preliminary design work on an estimated $12.5 million in improvements to the wastewater treatment plant at 1890 River Road. Final design is anticipated by next summer with permitting by fall 2023. Construction could begin by spring 2024 and be completed by fall 2025.

In other business, the council:

  • Set a 7 p.m. June 7 public hearing to receive comments on a proposed fiscal year 2021 budget amendment, which will be published in advance of the hearing.
  • Approved a final pay estimate of $1,793 to K&W Coatings of Elkader for work on the city’s water storage reservoir cover rehabilitation. Water and wastewater superintendent Kevin Reicks reported the cover is on and everything looks good.
  • Approved a two-year extension of a parklet agreement with Red Paddle Brewing for Paddler’s Tap, 136 N. Clark St.

Rob Hillesland is community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at


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