Roanoke County is taking steps to be more food-truck friendly.
The county is working to reduce fees for food trucks in the hope that more trendy eateries on four wheels will set up shop in Roanoke County.
At a board meeting Tuesday, county supervisors voted to reduce the annual fee on peddlers and itinerant merchants with perishable food from $250 to $50, bringing it in line with Roanoke and Salem.
“This is for our food trucks because it has become evident to us over time that these trucks are different than years ago when they used to go to football fields and high schools and games at night,” said Nancy Horn, county commissioner of the revenue. “They are becoming more prevalent.”
Roanoke County has issued three such licenses for food trucks this year. One of those businesses belongs to Supervisor Joe McNamara who runs an ice cream truck in the summer to accompany his two brick-and-mortar shops.
McNamara, who has run his ice cream truck for about 10 years, made suggestions beyond lowering the business license fees. The small-business owner suggested Roanoke Valley localities work together to find a consistent way of charging meals taxes, which vary across the Roanoke Valley.
Solely taxing truck owners the meals tax rate in their home locality could make switching between selling lunch in Roanoke County, dinner in Salem and late-night bar food in downtown Roanoke easier, McNamara said.
“The whole thing is too confusing,” he said. “People want to be fair and accurate all they want, but if it’s too complicated, they won’t be.”
McNamara participated in the discussion but did not vote, citing owning his own food truck as a conflict of interest. The other three supervisors in attendance voted in favor of the resolutions. Supervisor Charlotte Moore was absent from the board meeting Tuesday.
Supervisor Al Bedrosian encouraged county supervisors to find more ways to reduce taxes and promote economic development all in one fell swoop.
“We are, as a board, saying that we find when you reduce business license taxes, you promote economic development,” he said. “If we would just expand that to every other thing that we do in Roanoke County, I would love it.”
The board will have a final vote to reduce the fees later this month and if approved, changes will go into effect Jan. 1 or sooner.