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.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is proposing to increase the cost of Vending Machine Licenses from $3.00 to $20.00 per machine! That’s a 567% increase!
The impact of this legislation upon our small industry would substantially increase the cost of business for vending operators, would surely make the products more expensive for the consumer and would likely force some vending operators out of business.
DPH justifies this as necessary to underwrite costs of an anticipated increase in inspections due to Healthy Food regulations promulgated by HHS – and nutritional disclosures mandated by the US Affordable Care Act. On the first issue, this applies only to machines in public school locations which constitute a very small percent of the vending machines in Massachusetts, and on the second issue the FDA has yet to issue guidelines. We believe these are ill conceived agendas to punish an industry the DPH dislikes.
The Massachusetts Vending Association has been actively opposing this increase. MVA members testified on behalf of the industry on March 14, 2012 at a DPH hearing on the license fee increase and will be carrying our message to Beacon Hill soon.
MVA members testify at DPH hearing
MVA members testify at DPH hearing on March 14, 2012. From left: Dennis Surprenant, Rich Conrad, Steve Foley, Bob Frotten, Charles Brinkmann, Pat Arone, Jeff Terban and Steve Murphy
The MVA has also created a petition at Change.org (see below), started a sticker campaign for our memebrs’ machines, created letters to be sent to our legislators, and is gearing up for a grassroots campaign to counter this unfairincrease! You can help! go to www.change.org and sign our petition “Tell Mass. DPH: NO Increase to Vending Machine Fees!” (You can find our petition by searching under ‘vending fees’. Text of MVA’s Change.org petition:
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has proposed to increase vending machine license fees by 567% per machine. This is an outrageous increase on an industry that embodies the term “small business entrepreneurs.” The impact upon these businesses would be substantially increasing the cost of business for vending operators. It will surely make the products more expensive for the consumer and would likely force some vending operators out of business.
Vending machines provide a wide variety of food products to customers in many locations where other options are not easily accessible. Vending machines can be found in recreational facilities, in colleges and universities, in public and private schools and in hospitals and nursing homes. We are in business where convenience stores and cafeterias cannot be located, we provide immediate access to food, drinks and snacks and we are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We serve the public.
Vending companies pay income taxes, payroll taxes, real estate taxes, personal property taxes, fuel taxes, to name the most common. We pay registration fees, various operating license fee and tolls all supporting the government’s taxation on our businesses. We hire local employees who contribute in their own ways to the local economies and pay their fair share of taxes.
This proposed increase is exorbitant. The fees charged by the Department of Health for most businesses Is several hundred dollars. This increase will “tax” vending companies in the thousands of dollars. It could result in some job losses and surely will affect the prices of your vending favorites.
Help us by signing our petition and locudly proclaining to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health your opposition to this proposed increase. Say NO to this proposal.