County will consider revised health inspection ordinance with lower fees
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (March 15, 2010) — County commissioners received the most recent draft of a proposed food inspection ordinance Monday and said they’ll probably consider it later this month.
However, Presiding Commissioner Don McCulloch said he wanted to make sure the revised ordinance from the Pulaski County Health Department contains important revisions in the language addressing the commissioners’ prior objections.
“When I first came on board, you remember we had the health ordinance issue. That’s what this is; we need time to read it,” McCulloch said. “We’ve asked them to revise it on the costs … If everything holds true, and I have no reason to doubt it … we’ve said we would support the ordinance if they made it $25 across the board, and if it is so we will adopt it.”
That’s a reference to early objections from the county commissioners who believed that it was inappropriate to charge high fees to restaurants for the inspections, and preferred to focus on charging higher fees to restaurants that have problems and require a re-inspection to verify that problems have been fixed.
“They wanted to charge a large re-inspection fee. Now each establishment in Pulaski County will have to pay a $25 fee for a permit,” noted Commissioner Ricky Zweerink. “If they have to follow up, there will be a $100 fee.”
After further reading of the ordinance, Zweerink said there will be a $200 fee for subsequent follow-ups beyond the initial re-inspection.
While the commissioners believed the fees were appropriate, Commissioner Bill Farnham took aim at a new issue.
“I don’t like the first sentence there: ‘This ordinance shall be liberally construed and applied to promote its underlying purpose of protecting public health,’” Farnham said.
After looking at the ordinance more closely, Zweerink raised more concerns about whether food inspections would be required at events such as Crocker Railroad Days, Dixon Cow Days, Waynesville Frog Fest, the Tri-County Fair in Richland, the Pulaski County Regional Fair in St. Robert or similar activities elsewhere.
“If I understand this … I’m asking questions here … if Crocker, Richland or the other cities have these events that last one day or three days, what do they have to do?” Zweerink asked. “I haven’t read this yet, and that’s what I have to do.”
McCulloch said he’d probably bring the ordinance up for consideration on March 25 but wanted more answers first.
“We need to ask them specifically about a one-day event, the Lions Club or Frog Fest or something like that,” McCulloch said.
In addition to reviewing maintenance issues in the current county courthouse and the Old Courthouse Museum, commissioners also discussed the state of the national economy and how it’s affecting Pulaski County. Commissioners said that just a few miles away, the recreation-oriented businesses in the Lake of the Ozarks area are in serious trouble.
Zweerink said Pulaski County’s low tax rates could become a major factor in attracting new businesses to the area.
“A lot of cities are pushing them out … if we don’t go wild here, we may be able to attract some of them,” Zweerink said. “If you go up to the lake, it’s almost dead up there.”
“We wheeled and dealed for 30 years, and things are coming home to roost,” Zweerink said.