Threatening event shutdown, chamber

Since 2006, the chamber's net income has dropped from $41,383 to $30,922, and the Garage Sale income is vital to keeping the chamber running all year long, Martinez said.

And since the chamber staff works all year planning, promoting and answering vendor inquiries, the chamber income needs to be shored up, he said.

Martinez said expenses for port-a-jons, and garbage removal have increased substantially.

Last year, the chamber-contracted cleanup crew hauled away 25 tons of garbage after the event, rather than the 15 tons collected the year earlier, he said.

The fee collected from vendors on private land applies to the "core area" of town, or along Main, Elm and Hudson streets and Richards Ave.

At the meeting, Smith and Martinez suggested voluntary donations from private vendors, but Eileen Frasier of Seasons Bed & Breakfast argued successfully that such a system wouldn't raise much money at all.

Only a handful of property owners - those with a conscience - would be donating, she said.

Don Bagwell of Warrensburg, one of the vendors that rents a plot on North Main St., said part of the sagging revenue is due not only to the economic slump, but because of the ever-increasing restrictions, and the crackdown in recent years by code enforcement officers, state sales tax enforcers, and health inspectors.

"Since 2001, it's been more of a financial strain to be a vendor at nearly any kind of event," Bagwell said. "Less and less people are doing shows each year, and there's less revenue."

Last year, dozens of food vendors, including local church ladies selling homemade baked goods, were shut down by the state inspectors for preparing food at home and not in a state-inspected commercial kitchen.

Also, dozens of others were shut down for not having a sales tax license or collecting taxes.

"If you're a little old lady crocheting 10 hand warmers, you now need a sales tax license," he said.

Other vendors, from out of the area, were arrested for selling counterfeit goods.

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