By Mike Kruzman /

Livingston County is considering waiving food license fees for restaurants and related service businesses this year.

Livingston County Health Department Director of Environmental Health, Matt Bolang, made the request to the county’s General Government and Health and Human Services Committee, Monday. Food license fees are collected from about 437 establishments in the county. Fees for fixed establishments generally range between $627 - $1010, based on the size of the restaurant. Mobile unit fees are less. That comes out to around $335,000 annually that the county uses in conjunction with $137,000 from their Essential Local Public Funding Health Services contract funding to support food safety operations.

Bolong told the committee that COVID relief money is available to cover the costs this year and give restauranteurs a break. He said, “We feel pretty confident the relief money we’re receiving can offset those costs and we think it’s the right thing to do for these business folks, too. They’ve been hit pretty hard. We can afford to do it.”

Money generated from the fee helps in the health department’s efforts to teach food safety, investigate foodborne illnesses, and allows them to do consultations and planning reviews for new restaurants and remodels.

In addition, the county will also cover the state’s licensing fee, which ranges from $0-50 depending on the type of establishment.

The four-member committee was in full support of the resolution and encouraged Bolang, as well as other departments, to look for more opportunities like this where the county can help relieve some of the COVID stressors.

Commissioner Kate Lawrence said restaurants are in a position they didn’t put themselves in, and she hopes this passes the full Board. Commissioner Doug Helzerman said this help is one of the ways Livingston County shows it is unique and that he is glad for the way the health department handled the situation. Commissioner and Committee Chair Mitchell Zajac asked if there were more opportunities like this in the county, and thought they should be brought forward for discussion, if so.

The resolution will now go to the full Board of Commissioners for final approval.