Multiple choice: The City of Platteville will charge a business wanting to set up a sidewalk café outside its doors:
(A) A $100 initial fee and a $25 annual fee.
(B) A $50 initial fee, but no annual fee.
(C) A $25 annual fee.
(D) A $25 initial fee, but no annual fee.
(E) No fee.
The correct answer, after a 5–2 Common Council vote Dec. 12, is D: $25 for an initial sidewalk café permit, and no charge for annual renewals.
City staff had recommended A, a $100 charge for an initial permit and $25 per annual renewal, in part to recover the cost of staff time processing applications.
That prompted District 4 Ald. Ken Kilian to ask what staff had to do to process applications.
Community Planning and Development Director Joe Carroll said the city Plan Commission had to approve applications after a staff review, “like any zoning issue … there’s staff time involved processing that request.”
Platteville Main Street Program executive director Jack Luedtke pushed for option E, saying businesses “should not be burdened by a fee structure of any type.” Luedtke called a fee an “additional burden on those people willing to invest in outside furniture and so on.”
Luedtke predicted “probably not more than four or five” businesses would apply for the permits, which would make it not “a real burden on administrative time. … To me, it doesn’t warrant a fee, and that’s the way the board felt,” referring to the Main Street board.
Heidi Dyas-McBeth, one of the owners of downtown’s Driftless Market, put out tables last summer to “enhance the atmosphere of the downtown area.” Dyas-McBeth said the fee should be “encouraged by the city and not discouraged” by a fee.
Common Council President Mike Dalecki asked if waiving a fee would encourage anyone to set up a sidewalk café irrespective of appearance and other standards. He proposed B, a $50 initial fee but no annual fee.
District 2 Ald. Eileen Nickels brought up the possibility of sidewalk cafés on Second Street, but added if Second Street was a problem, “a fee won’t change that; [that is] an issue of enforcement.” Nickels favored either no fee or a $25 initial fee and no annual fee, saying, “It’s not a moneymaker for them.”
At-large Ald. Steve Becker proposed C, but his motion for a $25 annual fee died without a second.
When District 3 Ald. Barb Daus asked how much street vendors are charged for permits, Police Chief Doug McKinley said the city charges $50, though that fee is waived for “some nonprofits.”
“If we don’t charge for street vendors, we shouldn’t have a charge for ongoing businesses,” said Daus, who made the motion for the $25 initial fee but no annual fee.
Daus’ motion passed 5–2, with Dalecki and Becker casting no votes.