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Auto sale concerns Malone trustees

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MALONE –– Trustees grilled the village code enforcement officer this week about a permit that allowed a Florida-based auto dealer to hold a temporary sale at the Malone Plaza, but Code Enforcement Officer Jim Haley said trustees bear the ultimate responsibility for allowing the sale to proceed.

Trustees Mike Maneely, Hugh Hill and Joseph Riccio said they had received complaints from local residents about the sale held by the Vision Resale Center of Sanford, Florida.

“Here we let somebody come in for $25 and take hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the village of Malone,” Mr. Maneely said, referring to the permit fee the company paid. “It’s not right.”

“People come into town, set up a tent, take the cash and leave,” he said.

The temporary nature of the sale gave Vision “an unfair competitive advantage” over local auto dealers, who must factor the property taxes they pay on their lots into the prices they charge their customers, said Mr. Hill, who is also the executive director of the Malone Chamber of Commerce.

Separately, the chamber issued a statement expressing concern about the sale.

“The chamber would like to remind area consumers that purchasing an automobile from one of the many reputable local dealers insures that any service or warranty issues that arise will be resolved quickly and fairly, an option unavailable from temporary sales operations once they pull up stakes and leave town,” the chamber statement read.

“Further, the chamber reminds local residents that our full service certified local automobile dealers support our community through property taxes, employing local residents, purchasing supplies locally and by participating in and financially supporting community organizations and events,” the statement said. “Purchasing an automobile from a local business is better for the consumer and better for the community.”

Mr. Maneely in particular was critical of Mr. Haley for granting the permit allowing the sale, but Mr. Haley said the responsibility actually rests with the trustees.

Trustees had been notified in May that his office had issued the permit that allowed the sale, and no objections were raised at that time, Mr. Haley said. He also noted that Mayor Todd LePine had signed the required peddler’s permit.

Minutes of the May 28 village board meeting show that Mr. Maneely made the motion to allow Mr. LePine to authorize the peddler’s permit and that Mr. Riccio had seconded it. The motion was approved unanimously.

Mr. Haley said he followed the applicable sections of the village code in determining the company was eligible to receive the permit, and beyond that, his responsibility is limited to determining the structure –– in this case a tent –– was safely and securely constructed.

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