Idaho Falls Citizen Journalism

Leslie Shumate's picture


Even though the Salmon City Council voted to not impose the usual facility rental fees for the recent Preparedness Fair held at the Sacajawea Center on Friday, June 30 and Saturday, July 1, a refundable deposit of $500 for unforeseen expenses or damages was still required. Due to the organizers’ not abiding by the specific days originally reserved, not all of the deposit will be returned.

Members of the Salmon City Council, Mayor Leo Marshall, Sacajawea Center Director Lin Gray and City Clerk Mary Benton discussed the situation at the July 5 council meeting. 

Benton reminded the council they and the event organizers had first agreed to Thursday, June 29 as the day the vendors would set up their wares in advance of the start of the Fair. The organizers then decided they wouldn’t need the advance time therefore the set up time was rescheduled for Friday the 30th. . Benton said when participants started driving stakes in the ground to anchor the vendor tents on Wednesday the 28th, even though the center director told them they weren’t scheduled for that day the set up continued and Gray didn’t want to ask them to leave. Benton said that since it is the city clerk’s job to carry out what the council decides, the premature occupancy situation was left up to her to resolve however; she found no support in her efforts to follow the schedule the council had approved.

In another segment of preliminary discussions with event organizers it was made clear that vendors would have to obey the rules concerning obtaining itinerant permits. When one of the vendors appeared at City Hall with uncompleted paper work for three Itinerant Merchant Permits Benton advised the woman that in order to issue the permits she needed all the required information. The vendor complained that Benton was impeding $40,000 worth of business for the community. The vendor paid for the permits and left without completing the paperwork.

Benton’s point was that a recording of the verbal agreement verifies that scheduling was thoroughly discussed at the council’s May 3rd meeting; specific days for the Preparedness Fair to occupy the center grounds were made clear and were understood.

She told the council that in her opinion council scheduling for fee-free days at the Sacajawea Center were not followed. Furthermore she said in the past when facility use agreements are not kept the city has withheld part if not all of the deposit. As a matter of consistency and treating everyone equally she encouraged the council to stick to the fact the center was occupied for unscheduled use and if there is to be no enforcement of council stipulations then, do away with them. Benton asked whether or not the council wanted her to do the job she was hired to do which is to enforce decisions set by the council.

There was some discussion about how much the extra rental time used by the organization would cost and whether it should be charged for those days. Councilman Jim Bockelman then stepped in to the discussion saying the council sometimes makes exceptions to rules for the good of the community, such as waiving fees for the Preparedness Fair. He said however; there are rules and the council needs to stick to them. He narrowed down the decision that must be made to whether or not the council will stand by the City Clerk in her efforts to enforce the decisions made by the council.

Councilman Neal James made a motion to withhold $150 for the extra day and a half used by the Preparedness Fair and return the remaining $350 to the organization. The motion passed unanimously.

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