The City Council of Webster City Monday night revisited the matter of fees and regulations for the RAGBRAI overnight stop July 24. Last week, the council, on a 3 to 2 vote, turned down a resolution outlining fees and rules. This week, council members unanimously approved virtually the same information as an ordinance.
The change from a resolution to an ordinance gave some teeth to the enforceability of one section of the document, according to Gary Groves, city attorney.
"Last week, as I mentioned to you, I thought it was a better to set it up in an ordinance form that was pretty clear and to the point," he said.
Councilman Geary Meyer holds up the RAGBRAI overnight stop planning guide at Monday’s council meeting as Councilman Jerry Kloberdanz looks on. Meyer pointed out that the guide offers cities many pointers for hosting a successful RAGBRAI experience.
Groves told the council that the previous resolution mentioned nuisances with regard to persons selling food or products without a permit.
"Since there's really no nuisance provision for this type of penalty, I thought it best that we get it right even though it took an extra week," he said.
The section of the ordinance now reads that anyone "selling or supplying food or merchandise to the public without an authorized vendor permit issued by the RAGBRAI committee for July 24 or July 25, when such a permit is required, is in violation of this ordinance." The penalty for this violation, if convicted, would be a simple misdemeanor and a possible fine of up to $500, Groves said.
"I think that this is enforceable now," he said.
For the most part, City Manager Ed Sadler said the ordinance was much the same as the resolution presented at last week's council meeting. The fees for vendor permits would be as follows:
Commercial vendor - $500
Nonprofit vendor - $375
Expanded business - $425
Electrical services - $50
Refundable cleanup deposit - $100
The expanded business permit would allow an existing business to set up a booth or stand at a location other than their regular established place of business.
Just prior to the meeting, Groves said he received an administrative law decision that challenged whether a city could deny a business with a liquor license from going outside to sell alcohol.
"But I would guess that if that was the law, we would have heard about this in the (RAGBRAI) manual. The inspection people that I have been talking with would have told us about it," he said.
"While this is interesting, and there may be some merit, I would recommend that you pass and adopt this ordinance," he said. "We've got to get this passed. We're not going to stop tonight and read this and let me research and review it."
Groves said if he had received it earlier, he could have looked into the matter.
Kay Ross, owner of Seneca Street Saloon and Pizza, said she had given the document to Councilwoman Linda Conaway.
"We only just received this as well," Ross said.
Ross, who serves on the RAGBRAI advisory committee and is a volunteer, stepped to the podium to ask a question about an expanded business.
"If the council chose not to allow us to expand our business onto public grounds - which they certainly have a right to do - am I to understand the you might not be opposed to granting a permit to us if we went onto private land?" Ross asked.
Mayor Janet Adams said she didn't think the council could answer that question Monday night.
"I think different rules would apply and we can certainly look into that," Adams said.
Councilman Doug Getter, chairman of the RAGBRAI Ride Right committee, said he felt it was a key element of public safety to make sure the city right-of-ways were clear and accessible.
Geary Meyer, councilman and beverage garden chair, said he had voted no last week because the city attorney had concerns.
"Whenever he's concerned, I'm not going to vote in favor of something unless he's fully satisfied," he said, asking Groves, "And you are fully satisfied with this?"
"Yes," replied Groves.
Meyer also made reference to the RAGBRAI overnight stop handbook which gives communities an outline of procedures.
"They (RAGBRAI) have addressed probably every question in this book that I have been asked," he said. "They say, 'We've had the experience of 40 years, don't make the same mistakes that we're telling you about in this book.'"
The council approved the first reading of the ordinance, then waived the second and third reading. The ordinance was passed and adopted.
The council also approved the preliminary budget of $142,850 for the entire RAGBRAI event. The budget includes expenses for entertainment, hospitality, beverage garden, law enforcement and aspects of the planning and implementation for the overnight stay.
Volunteers and T-shirts
Adams said after the meeting that volunteers are still needed for RAGBRAI. To volunteer, fill out a volunteer registration form at www.webstercityragbrai.com. Officials estimate a total of 800 people are needed in various volunteer capacities.
Adams also said that T-shirts are available at City Hall at a cost of $12 each through May 1. After that time, the cost goes up to $15. She added that the official Webster City logo shirt would serve as admission to the concert planned for the evening of July 24 as well as the beverage garden.