Columbia may increase inspection fees for restaurants again

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COLUMBIA - Bangkok Gardens, a Thai restaurant in downtown Columbia, is one of many businesses that will be paying more for permits and inspection fees if a city council proposal is accepted. 

The proposal would increase fees for a variety of services at businesses including tattoo parlors, junk yards, and restaurants.

John Pham who owns Bangkok Gardens said the increase will hurt small businesses like his.

"It doesn't seem like they want small businesses to succeed," Pham said.

During the 2018 fiscal year the city also increased inspection fees for restaurants and other food service providers. 

Pham said that fee increase should have been enough.

Under the proposal, businesses would pay $15 to $40 more for inspections depending on the total amount of money the business received annually. 

That would mean, for inspections, restaurants would pay between $220-$570

Pham said while an extra $15 or $40 might not seem like much, he fears it will have a bigger impact. 

"Where is the line?" Pham asked. "This just gives them cart blanche to start increasing more taxes."

According to a city council memo, the purpose of the fee increases is to "meet the Council Objective of increasing the costs recovered for the provision of services."

The council will discuss the proposed changes at its meeting Tuesday. If the proposal is accepted, the new fees will go into effect Oct. 1.