By Vanessa McCray
---- — TRAVERSE CITY--There's still time for the city to backpedal on its plan to double peddlers' fees after confusion about where the hike would apply.
City commissioners earlier this month hiked the fee transient merchants pay to sell goods in commercial areas. The increase, which takes effect Sept. 15, means peddlers will pay $100 daily during prime summer months and $100 weekly in the off-season. That's up from $50 daily for the period from May 16 to Sept. 14 and $50 weekly for the rest of the year.
The commission asked the Downtown Development Authority to recommend a new fee structure and adopted the DDA's suggested fees.
Now, DDA officials are stating the recommended rate increase pertained only to the downtown district it covers, not other commercial areas around the city where peddlers might operate.
"We want to clarify that we weren't speaking about the rest of the city," said Bryan Crough, DDA executive director.
The rate change impacts vendors throughout the city's commercial areas, including a falafel seller who sets up near Munson Medical Center and opposed the rate hike.
"We didn't know this was city-wide," said DDA board member Bill Golden.
The DDA board on Friday considered, but did not vote on a suggested motion encouraging city commissioners to look at a different policy for peddlers in other parts of the city. Mayor Michael Estes, who also serves on the DDA, said he and city Manager Ben Bifoss will bring up the item at a future commission study session.
"(The) city commission has to consider the new clarification," Estes said.
Earlier, Estes said he favors a simple fee policy and wants to avoid "too complicated" laws that require more code enforcement. Estes said any discussion about changes should occur before the fee increases go into effect.
City officials cited a desire to even the playing field for business owners who pay rent or property taxes and the cost to administer permits as reasons to raise transient merchant fees.