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City ordinance would regulate door-to-door sales

Potential door-to-door salespeople would have a chance to solicit in Brewton under a new city ordinance proposed Tuesday.

City attorney Ed Hines told council members that the city’s present ordinance, which bans such sales in residential areas, has been “informally attacked” by a company that seeks to do door-to-door sales in the area. The company alleges that its first amendment right is violated by the ordinance.

“Under the present ordinance, there is no solicitation in residential areas,” Hines said.

Hines said he has reviewed similar ordinances in other cities to craft a new ordinance in Brewton.

Under the proposed ordinance, which the council voted Tuesday to introduce, companies would be able to solicit door-to-door if they pay a business license fee and provide photo identification and fees for each salesperson. They would also be able to solicit only during certain hours.

Hines said he believes the ordinance balances the rights of the companies with the rights of homeowners.

“We believe it passes constitutional muster,” Hines said.

City Councilman Dennis Dunaway asked if the fee for a solicitor’s business license could be increased in the ordinance from $350 to $1,000. That does not include a $10 processing fee required by the state or the fee per salesperson.

Council members agreed to accept Dunaway’s suggestion.

Dunaway also asked that the ordinance include language about collecting sales tax from such companies.

“One of my biggest concerns is that people collect sales tax and never remit it,” Dunaway said. “If we add something to (the ordinance) notifying companies about sales tax, it may show them we’ll be looking at it.”

Hines said the ordinance does not affect sales from groups like Girl Scouts.

The council will vote on the ordinance at its next meeting.

In other business:

• Council members approved a $183,013 bid from Cobb Environmental of Tupelo, Miss., for a fuel farm construction at the Brewton Airport. The project will be paid for mainly by the Federal Aviation Administration, with the city and state paying 5 percent each.

• The city approved an agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation to repair the Lee Street bridge. The cost has been estimated at $140,000, and the state will pay $100,000, City Clerk John Angel said.

• Council members voted to hold Halloween activities on Oct. 30 this year, from 5 to 8 p.m. Police Chief Monte McGougin said the city of East Brewton will observe the same hours and day for trick or treating.