Tonda Bruckner

Phy-Ros Food Truck Owner Tonda Bruckner speaks before the Shenandoah City Council on Tuesday, June 11, 2019.

(Shenandoah) — Shenandoah’s City Council has given the first round of approval to a lower peddler’s fee in town.

Meeting in regular session Tuesday night, the council unanimously approved the first reading of an amended resolution that would lower the annual fee charged to peddlers to $50 from the current $900 fee that is charged. Other peddler’s permits include $10 for a one-day, $15 for a week, $20 for a month and $25 for up to six months. The vote came after a plea from a local food truck owner. Tonda Bruckner co-owns and operates Phy-Ros in several southwest Iowa communities. She says she stopped operating in Shenandoah due to the high fee.

"The city of Omaha charges $100 and that's for hundreds of thousands of people," said Bruckner.  "The city of Des Moines charges $100 and again, that's for hundreds of thousands of people, as opposed to the small communities.  We come from the city.  We moved out here and we love it; we love rural Iowa.  We wanted to bring our food out here, but we can't afford these fees."

The council had originally considered reducing the fee to $400 annually, but after further discussion agreed on the $50 fee. Bruckner says paying administrative fees in each town adds up, making the cost of operating a food truck skyrocket.

"We like doing this," said Bruckner.  "This is our bag, I guess.  I've owned restaurants, and I don't want to be married to a restaurant.  I want to hop around and let everybody enjoy a little bit of it, but I can't afford to at these kind of fees.  I'm just hoping that maybe you guys will think about your fee structure a little bit to maybe get some other folks coming in.  Food trucks are fun and people like food trucks."

City Administrator A.J. Lyman tells KMA News the previous peddler’s fees were implemented prior to RAGBRAI coming through town to account for the large amounts of vendors. He says by reducing the fee, Shenandoah would sit on the lower end of area communities.

"We're not getting rich on this fee," said Lyman.  "I know Red Oak charges $500 annually, Clarinda charges $50 annually and Essex charges $400 annually -- I just heard that tonight.  It's one of those things where we have to balance attracting a business to town or do we want to have a large administrative fee?  I've eaten at that food truck and they have great food, much like all the restaurants here in town.  More food options and choices in town are never a bad thing, in my opinion."

The council approved the first reading. The resolution requires two additional readings, or the council could waive the third reading at its next meeting before the new fee structure takes effect. Additionally, the council approved a revolving loan fund committee recommendation for a $15,000 loan to The Donut Stop to repair damage incurred due to a sewage backup. Lyman says with the loan, the business is expected to be back up and running in 2-3 weeks.

"That's one of the points of this revolving loan fund is to make those bridge loans in times of need like this or to help existing business bridge that gap to get back in business or stay in business in the short term," said Lyman.  "We're hopeful that they'll be able to get back on the mend and start kicking out some more great donuts."

In other business, the council approved an agreement with Simmons Restoration for work on the city hall basement following a sewage backup. The work will be paid for by the city’s insurance. The council also approved a contribution of $1,000 toward the annual Fourth of July fireworks display.