Saratoga Springs' ban on kids selling water may be short-lived

October 06, 2017 07:12 PM

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Cold bottles of water have been sold from kids' coolers set up outside Saratoga Race Course for as long as anyone can remember.

They set up on every corner, selling for a buck apiece, far less than the $5 or so you'll shell out inside the track.

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But lately, say the city police chief and the public safety commissioner, it's gotten to be too much.

"I've had nothing but complaints from our code enforcement officers and from our police officers about the problem of the bottled water sales," said Commissioner Chris Mathiesen.

The commissioner says there have been disputes over territory.

People have even chained coolers to fences overnight to stake out spots and police have had to intervene.

Mathiesen says it was allowed for years even though kids were never required to get a permit or pay sales tax because the city thought it was a good way for aspiring young entrepreneurs to earn some money.

But the commissioner says the problems outweigh the benefits and it's banned beginning next July. Not so fast say other members of the city council. Although selling water is outlawed as of now, they say it won't be by the time the next track season rolls around.

"I think it's a great thing. It's the entrepreneurial spirit here in the city," said Accounts Commissioner John Franck. "Whether you sell lucky pencils, the pink sheets, water, lemonade. This is what makes Saratoga great."

Mathiesen is not seeking re-election this year, so Franck is certain the next public safety commissioner and next council will figure it out.

"There are some issues. We'll clean it up, it's not a big deal. We'll sit down with the new public safety commissioner in January," Franck said. "I'm certain of three things: death, taxes, and kids will be selling water in July of next year."


Mark Mulholland

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