FULTON, NY — As the summer ice cream season cools down, the competition between Fulton’s local brick-and-mortar businesses and the Bull Head Point seasonal food truck vendors appears to be heating up.
Lakeview Lanes owner Mike Tryninski addressed the Fulton Common Council during its first meeting in September and asked city leaders to take a look at what the city charges the vendors who are permitted to sell from food trucks at Bull Head Point.
“It seems to be that we made a big investment in a mini-golf course and some ice cream and the first thing that happened was my tax assessment got raised $100,000,” the small businessman said. “And that would be good and fine if everybody was paying their fair share. But it seems that all the vendors at Bull Head Point pay no taxes. They pay a $750 permit fee for the year, and can stay there and compete against businesses that actually pay taxes and contribute to the city.”
The current assessed value of Lakeview Lanes is $525,000. The business’ 2014 city and county taxes and 2013 school tax amounted to approximately $32,315 according to county real property records.
Tryninski asked the Common Council to look at the fee structure. He noted that without a heavy tax burden “they can charge less and they will have more customers,” he said, adding that the city has created an unfair balance between vendors and businesses.
Currently there are two food trucks at the city owned recreational facility: Shannon’s Hot Dogs and Dingles Ice Cream.
Shannon’s Hot Dogs truck vendor Crystal English said in an interview with Oswego County Today on Wednesday (Sept. 10) that the truck has been doing business at Bull Head Point for 30 years and the permit fee has been $750 a year since she bought the business 9 years ago.
“I think the city should look at the vendor’s permit fee,” English said. “But if they’re going to make it fair then they need to consider what we’re doing here and not compare us to markets like Syracuse.”
“If they do plan to increase the fee we want it to be for the correct reasons and not influenced by outside businesses,” English added. “I would like any increase to be fair.”
Dingles Ice Cream co-owner Paul Cooper said he would not be opposed to a change in the permit fee, but like English, said the city needs to take all things into consideration.
“Whatever they say we’ll have to do,” he said. “We don’t have much control over it.”
Operating five days a week for about four hours a day, and six months out of the year, English said she would not be opposed to a rate calculated on the actual amount of space she uses or the value of her food truck.
“Remember, I move my equipment out at the end of each day,” the hot dog vendor noted. “The businesses down the road can do business 24 hours a day, seven days a week, rain or shine.”
“If the other businesses are complaining because they have to pay more in taxes, then figure out what we use for taxable space and use that to determine the permit fee,” she said.
English added that calculating the vendor’s permit fee based on the assessed value at Bull Head Point and what she has invested in her food truck might be one way to look at it fairly.
While her truck takes up about 128 square feet of parking lot space and has a value of about $22,000, using the current assessed land value of $330,000 at Bull Head Point and the 2014 tax rates, that would equal about $635 for the half year she takes up space.
As of this year, English and Cooper each pay the city for the amount of electricity they use on a monthly basis.
During the council meeting Mayor Ron Woodward confirmed the vending permits have been $750 annually for a long time and said he asked the council to address this issue before next year’s permits are issued, noting that the lease for Mr. Mike’s is also up at the end of this year and it was also something that would be looked at.
“We leased it for a small amount of money. At the time the council wanted to get someone in there,” the mayor said.
“My personal opinion, because of the focus on the lake, is to keep them there. But it has to be something that’s equitable to everyone,” Woodward said.
Councilors Tom Kenyon and Jay Foster advised Tryninski during the meeting that they would review the process over the next weeks to try to find a balance for all the businesses involved before next year’s ice cream season.