Athens City Council heard from Athens residents regarding ordinances on the body’s evening agenda Monday night, including ordinances amending parking fees, fines and pass charges and penalties for vending without a permit.
An ordinance that will increase the price of motorcycle parking passes was read for the second time at the meeting. Sam Girton, a citizen of Athens and a professor in the School of Visual Communication, said the ordinance will discourage motorcyclists from even buying a pass.
“If the price went up to 50 (dollars), there’d be a breakeven point where I’m going to just start dropping quarters in the meter instead of buying a pass,” Girton said.
Councilman Micah McCarey, D-At Large, asked for clarification on why the prices will be increased before the next reading.
“We don’t just arbitrarily increase rates because they haven’t been increased in a while. There should be some rationale as to this is all out of sync with some sort of standard or there’s a need to offset some new expense,” McCarey said. “I just hadn’t heard the clear reasons, so I’m thinking that’s going to be helpful for anyone who’s trying to understand.”
Council also discussed an ordinance that would add a maximum jail sentence of 30 days as a penalty to vending without a permit after the second offense, with subsequent fines and jail time added for each offense.
Council heard from a resident of Athens regarding that ordinance. James Wanke, owner of Hot Shots food truck. Wanke has been denied a vendor permit due to his truck being too large to fit regulations, according to a previous Post report.
“In desperation, I decided to set up my food truck outside my family business with the relative consent of my neighbors and the explicit consent of my landlord, which I say is a victimless crime,” Wanke said. “This all feels like a money-based popularity contest, and this isn’t the time or place for it. So, please, show your support for local business, and vote ‘no’ to this harmful ordinance, and consider withdrawing it.”
Councilman Jeff Risner, D-2nd Ward, voiced his support for the ordinance.
“If you vend in the wrong place, you are breaking the law,” he said.
In other business, an ordinance was introduced to incentivize continuing education for non-union city employees. The ordinance introduced by Councilman Sam Crowl, D-3rd Ward, would increase city employees’ paychecks by between $250 and $1000 for increased education. The continuing education incentives would be given for associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees as well as professional certifications.