Dennis Aci, owner of Aci Truck Stop on Route 46, thinks the county’s plans to add a whopper of an increase to the annual restaurant inspection fee is too much for restaurant owners like him to swallow, especially given the moribund economy.
Besides the fuel pumps, Aci operates a small restaurant with about 10 tables, enough to serve 15 to 20 people.
It’s the fuel, not the food, that keeps business going at the truck stop, Aci said.
He has been paying $25 for his annual restaurant inspection, a process he says consists of a five-minute walk-through by the health inspector, who spends another 15 minutes or so filling out paperwork before leaving.
Aci said he learned about a week or two ago that the inspection fee will cost him $300 a year, not $25, as a result of a new fee schedule that he believes is half-baked and should be sent back to whoever made it.
Aci said the fee increase will just add more red ink to his restaurant’s books. “We’re not making money at the restaurant now,” Aci said.
Rene Mathez, a Knowlton Township Committee member, showed up at Wednesday night’s Warren County Freeholder’s meeting with Aci and echoed his concerns.
Mathez called the proposed increase, a 1,100 percent jump, “enormous” and suggested the county consider a more gradual approach.
Mathez said there are about seven or eight restaurants that are “getting by, by the skin of their teeth” in Knowlton Township.
Freeholder Jason Sarnoski said, “We will continue to look at it, to see if we can gradually increase it.”