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ALL ABOUT INTERPRETATION 7-6-16 LMS

The July 6 meeting of the Salmon City Council included an issue of interpretation of city codes which was resolved by the history behind the law’s original intent.

The code being questioned was first created in 1959 and then amended in 2007. It addresses the legality of door to door solicitations. The question was raised when a representative from Computer Zen knocked on the door of City Clerk Mary Benton’s home with an invitation to sign up for Dish Network.

Benton told the sales person that door to door solicitations are illegal in Salmon and against city code. The company then called City Attorney Fred Snook and he in turn requested a copy of the code in question from the city clerk. His initial opinion based on the code as written was the law was meant for out of towners, not businesses licensed in the city of Salmon. Snook said that just last year he and Mayor Marshall interpreted the code to mean it was not intended for local businesses.

The city pays the city attorney based on the number of hours spent on the city’s behalf. The recent research and phone calls involved about an hour’s work for which Snook billed the city.

Each month the council reviews the bills and votes to accept or deny them. City Councilman Rob Jackson questioned the bill on the premise it set a precedent that might lead to any resident asking the city attorney to research something and the city having to pay for the research. Snook vigorously refuted Jackson’s scenario and demonstrated his offense at the billing being questioned by offering to leave the meeting. Councilmen Jim Bockelman and Jim Baker calmed the tension by defining the sequence of events as being; the company first called Snook who called the city clerk for a copy of the code. The city then asked Snook to research the code related to the situation and render an opinion.

The council deemed the $120 bill valid and a motion to accept the bills was passed.

Due to the question raised regarding the city’s solicitation code the matter was placed on the July 6 agenda for further discussion.

City Clerk Mary Benton recounted the lengthy discussions which took place in 2007 and which resulted in that council’s final decision. She said the discussions addressed all aspects including the instance of home delivery services provided by the Schwan’s Man. She said no one on the council was in favor of uninvited knocks on the door therefore the outcome of the 2007 discussion was solicitors may approach a residence by invitation only. Exclusions to the rule are fund raisers for non-profit organizations raising money for area youth. Otherwise any solicitations for wares and merchandise are to be declared a “nuisance” and are punishable as a misdemeanor.

The ruling is reminiscent of Wyoming’s well-known Green River Ordinance. Based on his college days experience Councilman Neal James explained that under the Green River Ordinance the salesperson has to make an appointment and be invited to present any wares being sold.

After further review of the code language it was determined by the current council that the “by invitation only’ code shall remain as is and that according to established Salmon City Code, door to door sales of goods and services are illegal.


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