In March 2012, MVA raised a wave of major opposition to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s (DPH) proposed increase in vending machine license fees. At that time DPH was proposing to raise the license fee per machine from $3 to $20 or a 567% increase.
MVA’s opposition to DPH included
Appearing at a DPH hearing on the subject, offering testimony in opposition
Lobbying with various members of the Legislative Branch
Organizing a grass roots petition on the website change.org with outstanding participation by members, suppliers, employees and others in a consistent one by one criticism of DPH action and in favor of our industry.
The result, MVA created enough recognition of our industry’s plight that, when coupled with election year pressure on curtailing negative impacts on middle class incomes and taxes, resulted in DPH’s proposition being flushed down the drain with every other bad tax/fee idea.
Well DPH IS BACK!!!!!
In August 2014, as part of a full scale list of fee increase made by the State Department of Administration and Finance, and with the newest state fiscal year just beginning in a lame duck year, DPH notified MVA that there was a new license fee in effect (August 1st) that required the payment of a $10 fee for each vending machine license.
As our industry continues to suffer from an economy that struggles along, our members will now receive new machine license fee invoices demanding a $7 per machine increase or 333%.
Where does MVA stand today on this issue?
As background, this is not new blatantly exorbitant step by DPH to take money. In 1985 MVA took DPH to court seeking a rollback of a then fee increase from $1 to $5. The result of this class action suit, where MVA was recognized by the court as representing all Massachusetts state vending operators, was a court ruling in favor of MVA against DPH, with the fee increase overturned. All fees were reimbursed. The MVA maintained that DPH’s fee increase was not and could not be established as being in support of any additional costs incurred by DPH in support of vending machine inspections, and was, therefore, a tax and not a fee increase.
Once again MVA has filed suit in Massachusetts Suffolk Superior Court representing Foley Foodservice and all the member companies of MVA in opposition to the August 2014 fee increase. MVA maintains that DPH has failed to inspect licensed vending machines for a period of many years, while only inspecting a very few warehouse and distribution facilities where in almost all cases, there is no food preparation. Basically, the fee increase does not meet the test of a fair and necessary increase to meet inspection needs per the Massachusetts Law governing these fees.
At present, the Assistant Attorney General representing both the Department of Administration and Finance and the Department of Public Health has asked for an extension of thirty (30) days to review the case. We will keep all members informed.