Message from Commissioner Kriebel Regarding Ice Cream Vending

A discussion about Ventnor’s ice cream vending began last summer when the City Clerk and Chief of Police mediated ongoing disputes between beach vending license holders and responded to numerous public complaints of disputes between vendors on the beach.

During the summer of 2017, Chief Biagi received the following reports on a nearly weekly basis:

1. Vendors disregarded the mobile requirement of the ordinance and set up at least three stationary tent “storefronts” with signage and flags.
2. Disputes between vendors over territories and behavior.
3. Vendors disregarded the ordinance by selling water.
4. Vendors disregarded dress code and code of conduct in general.
As I discussed these issues with Chief Biagi, I looked at the vending license process in other coastal municipalities.  Compared to Ventnor, most municipalities auction their license to the highest bidder.  The highest bidder pays significantly more for the vending license compared to Ventnor.  The bidder also manages the ice cream vendors and would be responsible for the types of disputes occurring in Ventnor. 

Currently, Ventnor contracts the vendor licenses to four Ventnor residents, who are veterans, and eleven veterans from other nearby municipalities.  Each vendor pays $55.00 for the license for total revenue of $825.00 per year.  In contrast, the following municipalities auction to single vendors:

Municipality Format Approx. 2017 Revenue
Sea Isle City  1 bid $251,000.00
Wildwood Crest  1 bid $217,500.00
Wildwood   1 bid $108,000.00
Margate   1 bid $85,000.00
Stone Harbor 1 bid $75,000.00
Longport  1 bid $30,000.00

The following nearby municipalities, including Ventnor, sell vending licenses directly to the vendors:

Municipality Format Approx. 2017 Revenue
Ventnor 15 licenses - $55.00 each - Veterans only $825.00
North Wildwood  7 licenses – roughly $120.00 each  $845.00
Brigantine  5 permits - $100.00 each – Veterans only $500.00
Atlantic City 125 licenses -$50 each – Veterans only $6,250.00

I believe the administration has the responsibility to improve the process and policies of all departments and to find new revenue in the face of increasing annual costs.  The current ice cream vending process benefits four Ventnor residents and eleven non-residents.  If we adopt the process used by most of the neighboring municipalities, we have the opportunity to raise thousands of dollars every year that will benefit all Ventnor taxpayers.

I suspect Mayor Holtzman and Commissioner Landgraf will not be in favor of putting ice cream out to bid as I propose, however given the data, I believe discussion was and still is warranted. At the end of the day there may not be any change to current way of doing things but an education of the facts is critical and discussions are always beneficial.
Before any decision or ordinance change is made, I encourage stakeholders and residents to discuss this topic during the March 8th Ventnor City Workshop with Chief Biagi and me or email me at  tkriebel@ventnorcity.org.

Finally, this discussion is tied to veterans because this ordinance historically singles them out as the only eligible candidates. To call the alternative of a single bidder auction, myself for proposing it, or anyone in this administration unpatriotic in some way for discussing it is false. It would also imply the other six nearby municipalities that do so year after year are anti-veteran as well and that would be untrue. We can all agree veterans deserve our respect and hardworking taxpayers deserve our support as well. I encourage you all to join the discussion as we as a community and commission make this decision.
Tim Kriebel
Commissioner of Public Safety

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