Assistant Managing Editor
A request for a refund of a temporary food license application fee was rejected Tuesday by Auglaize County Health Board members.
Health Board member Dr. Thomas Freytag suggested the board not approve the refund of $70 to Pat Allen, who brought an elephant ear “fair type” stand to a truck pull at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds.
Environmental Health Director Curt Anderson said a temporary permit is good for up to five days and takes fewer regulations into account, while a mobile license is good for the entire year but food stands must meet the same requirements as restaurants.
Anderson said he had concerns about granting Allen a mobile permit in Auglaize County because she did not meet the regulations required, specifically having no mechanical refrigeration, only a cooler with ice. Surfaces of the trailer also were not smooth and easily cleanable.
When she arrived for the event at the fairgrounds, Anderson said he got a good look at her food stand and it was “even worse than what I thought.”
He said it is a difficult situation, with different food stands coming into the county periodically for different events after many having gotten licenses from elsewhere.
Typically if the local health department has concerns after inspecting a business in their own county on a mobile permit from another county, they send a letter notifying that other county of their concerns, so personnel there can follow up with the owner.
“In the state of Ohio, if one county issues a mobile license, we have to accept it,” Anderson said. “Different counties allow different things.”
Allen had written the Health Board in May explaining that she was new to the process of acquiring permits from different counties to apply for mobile food units and asking if the fee she paid for a temporary permit here could be refunded as she was able to get another type of permit from Fulton County, which was good for taking her business throughout the state.
She said Fulton County worked with her to fulfill all requirements needed to get the yearly permit in time to satisfy both counties, so she would like to get back the money she had paid for a one-time permit to sell in Auglaize County.
“I completely understand that my lack of knowledge does not constitute a refund, but it would be very appreciated on my part as trying to start a new business and learning all the rules and regulations is a trying situation in its own,” Allen wrote in her letter to the Health Department.
Freytag said he was concerned that Allen had found a place that would grant her what Auglaize County wouldn’t but without the same level of approval.
“As much as I would like to think every county in Ohio operates under the same level of competency and scrutiny, it just isn’t true,” Freytag said.
He said by approving a refund, he did not want it to seem that the Health Board was giving the Good Housekeeping “Seal of Approval” on this business or this practice.
Anderson said he had already followed up with Fulton County Health Department’s environmental health director, who felt bad the mobile license was approved.
“It simply did not meet state standards,” Anderson said.
He said Allen did not do anything illegal, however, as she followed the law, having paid for a temporary permit here and then went and got a mobile permit elsewhere. She used the mobile permit when she attended the event in Auglaize County.
Anderson said in the past the Health Department has issued refunds but in cases where an event was cancelled or someone became ill and didn’t attend. The refunds were issued for different reasons.
Auglaize County Medical Director Dr. Juan Torres suggested a protocol be set and how to handle this type of situation be laid out step-by-step should problems arise in the future.
In other business during a regular meeting Tuesday of the Auglaize County Health Board, the following were approved;
• Renewal of contracts for school nursing with Minster and New Knoxville for the 2013-14 school year at the same rate.
• Renewal of contract with Stephanie Mosler for family planning pharmacist services. Mosler typically works between two and three hours a month writing prescriptions.