minnesota department of health logoST PAUL, MN – New food truck operations will pay more to get licensed in St. Paul as a result of the state Department of Health taking over restaurant and business inspections that had been handled by the city.

But that’s not the whole story, say officials with the Minnesota Department of Health. The new reality for food truck vendors is complicated by a series of differences between state and city practices.

Doug Schultz, a spokesman for the state Health Department, said startup food truck operations in St. Paul will pay up to $560, which includes a license fee of $210 and a plan review fee of $250 to $350. Future inspections would cost $266, which is actually a small cost savings for food truck operators in the long run.

Food trucks already licensed by Minneapolis, Ramsey or Hennepin counties or another jurisdiction would not be considered startups and would not have to pay the plan review fee.

The St. Paul Department of Safety and Inspections has been charging food trucks $244 for licensing, regardless of whether they’re a startup, Schultz said. The city’s food trucks have also been paying a separate $35 hospitality fee directly to the state, and that fee is now included in the cost of state inspections.

The overall difference: a $13 savings for established vendors.

In addition, food trucks licensed by the Minnesota Department of Health will be allowed to operate in any city or county where the department handles inspections. In other words, a St. Paul food truck could cross into West St. Paul or another Dakota County municipality without having to be reinspected, but not into Minneapolis.

That’s a potential cost savings that food trucks licensed solely in St. Paul did not enjoy. The switch to the state system, however, also opens the door to more competition from vendors coming from outside the city.

Find the entire article by Frederick Melo at twincities.com <here>