Adding a criminal charge to a county ordinance for door-to-door salespeople who fail to register beforehand was placed on second reading Monday night.
Bath Township administrator Vito Sinopoli spoke before the Summit County Council saying he would like to add a criminal penalty to the rules so police officers will be able to enforce the law when solicitors do not register.
“This deals with individuals and groups who go to various homes throughout the township and solicit goods and services,” Sinopoli said. “It would be a minor misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $100 and would give law enforcement the ability to issue criminal warrants rather than the threat of a lawsuit.”
The civil penalty already on the books allows the person to be sued if they fail to register their business. The proposed measure calls for a minimum fine of $100 and a maximum of $500.
“It all boils down to how much are you going to spend to chase the fine,” Sinopoli said.
Council President Jerry Feeman and Council-at-large Ilene Shapiro questioned whether the other townships were on board with the proposed legislation and whether they have their own legislation on the issue.
“We have had informal discussions with other communities,” Sinopoli said. “It was a surprise to Bath Township when we found out there were only civil penalties in place. The other communities have the same understanding that without any type of criminal penalty law, enforcement simply can’t get involved.”
Jason Dodson, chief of staff for County Executive Russ Pry, said typically the townships don’t have the ability to enact their own laws but here, they do.
“They have the option of either going under the county law or having their own local control if they wanted to do so,” Dodson said. “This provides the blanket and covers everybody who wouldn’t have one. If one of the townships wants to do something different they can do so, from a business perspective however, having the one law that applies to all nine townships is ultimately better and cheaper and more efficient for those businesses, because instead of them having to register in nine different places they would only have to register in one.”
Dodson said he will research to determine how each township handles the problem and how the proposed legislation would impact them.
“If we find out none of the townships have a local one and this covers all nine, we will see if council wants to apply it in all the townships.”
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or firstname.lastname@example.org.