Wednesday, April 10, 2013
DALLAS -- The Dallas City Council on April 1 narrowly approved drafting an ordinance instituting a garage sale permit fee within city limits.
On one side of the debate were those councilors who saw the fee as "nickel-and-diming" residents. On the other were councilors who said issuing free permits was costing too much to continue without recouping a portion of the costs.
At the heart of the issue was not the time spent issuing permits -- in 2012, 676 garage sales were held in Dallas -- but checking in and out and maintaining garage sale signs.
Currently, the city doesn't charge for a garage sale permit, but it does require city-issued signs for advertising sales with a $15 deposit that is refunded if the signs are returned in usable condition. That means the city is paying for the majority of the upkeep and purchase of new signs.
Councilor Jackie Lawson
City Finance Director Cecilia Ward estimated the true cost of the program would require charging $50 for permits, but recommended a $5 fee to cover costs. Later, the city's Administrative Committee recommended $8. The April 1 debate, which resulted in a 5-4 vote, was over directing staff to draft an ordinance creating the fee. It will be presented for a first reading at the council's April 15 meeting. According to a staff report, the city of Monmouth charges an $8 permit fee and the city of Stayton charges $5.
Councilor Beth Jones suggested the city get rid of the sign requirement, but the majority of the council was against that. Councilor Jim Fairchild said the signs' purpose was to eliminate homemade signs being posted around town, most of which would have to be removed by city staff.
Councilor Jim Brown
The four councilors who voted against moving the fee forward still thought it was too much to ask.
"I think we are nickel-and-diming people to death if we are asking $5 or $8," Councilor Jackie Lawson said. "My suggestion would be to continue with the $15 (sign) deposit and if they come back damaged or dirty, they don't get their $15 back. To raise revenue through garage sale permit fees to me seems a little ridiculous, especially in light of the economy right now."
Councilor Jim Brown, part of the contingent voting to move the ordinance forward, noted that if the city didn't ask for the fee, it may have to make cuts to other programs.
"I think that the $8 imposition we are proposing is relatively reasonable," Brown said. "They have to be able to make $8 or they shouldn't be having a garage sale. "