Restaurant inspection fees will go up in Madison County, though an amendment to exempt schools was narrowly approved by the County Board on Wednesday.
Permits for most restaurants and fast-food establishments will go from $350 to $375. Permits for taverns that don't prepare food and similar low-volume establishments will go from $125 to $150.
Likewise, initial permits will go up $25, as will permits for temporary events. Farmer's market permits will remain the same. County officials estimated about 1,300 establishments and 400 temporary permits are issued each year.
County Board member Brenda Roosevelt proposed amending the ordinance to exempt schools for three years, after which the county could re-evaluate the issue. "I'm concerned about increasing the costs to schools when they are struggling," Roosevelt said.
County Board member Hal Patton agreed, saying he estimated the cost of exempting schools to be less than $3,000 a year for the county. But County Board member Michael "Doc" Holliday pointed out that during multiple rounds of discussion in committee, no one suggested exempting the schools.
The amendment narrowly passed 13-12. The amended ordinance then passed 20-5.
Holliday said the increased funds are needed to keep up with state-mandated exemptions. Every food-serving establishment must be inspected, he said, from churches hosting fish fry events in Lent to grocery store chains.
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at email@example.com or 239-2501.