Public hearing held on food establishment regulations

A public hearing was held during the Nolan County Commissioners meeting on Monday morning, November 26 at the county courthouse. The hearing was in regards to changes in the county ordinance which regulate food establishments--including food service establishments, retail food stores, day cares--a new addition to the list, mobile food units, temporary food establishments and roadside food vendors.In attendance at the meeting were Don Ware and Linda Kite with the Sweetwater-Nolan County Health Department. Ware spoke to the commissioners about the current system under which the county operates, distributing information to the commissioners.The informative chart compared the local ordinance to other area communities like Snyder, Brownwood and Abilene as well as the state. Currently, Sweetwater's fees are well below other cities.A modest increase to fees would be the main change to the ordinance, in which the money is used to fund the food inspector. Kite presently serves the area as the inspector.When asked if the increase would cover the costs, Ware noted that the extra funds would. The state recently made cuts to funding in this area, in which the addition to the fees would try to recover the lost funding.The state of Texas mandates that all temporary food services must have a permit. If they do not obtain one from the local level, the state will require the service to get one at their level.At this time, temporary food vendors--who can set up their space for up to fourteen days in conjunction with an event--paid $25 for a one-time permit, whereas retailers and restaurants have been paying $15 for a one-time permit. Now, the fee for anyone who wants to sell food has doubled to $50, which will also have to be renewed annually from this point on.After the presentation, the public hearing was closed and the commissioners decided to approve the changes for the county ordinance.