Car dealers oppose transient vendor who set up car lot
Wednesday, August 13, 2014 1:00 AM
An automobile dealer voiced opposition to a transient vendor the city allowed to set up a tent to sell vehicles.
Bill Griffis, of Griffis Motors, said while deemed legal by some, one needed to question whether they are "morally ethical or good for our city."
Griffis was joined by about 10 other automobile dealers at the Philadelphia Mayor and Board of Aldermen meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 5.
"These auto companies have no skin in the game," Griffis said. "Before every auto dealer in this room could sell one vehicle, we had to establish a permanent building, get the required permit from the city and state and have a sign signifying who we are."
He told aldermen that the people coming into Philadelphia own no property, have no building, make no payrolls and pay no taxes here.
"They just come here, set up a tent and get a big slice of pie, then take off, accountable to no one," Griffis said. "They use predatory selling and lending practices. The team of managers and salesmen that normally come with these tent events are usually from out of state. They set up shop, using highly questionable practices selling vehicles to Neshoba countians. Because of their predatory practices, the customer can not afford to make the payments and the vehicle becomes a repossession within the first 90 days," Griffis said.
Without a very strict policing effort, Griffis said the sales tax from the automobile sales can leave the county and go back to the county where the business is domiciled.
Griffis said the last tent sale in the city was paid for by a "mega dealer" out of Birmingham, Ala.
"I guarantee you, if one of these buyers can find a dealership for service, they will not be given a service loaner while their car is in the shop," he said.
He asked the mayor and board to "protect the current business owners by not continuing to allow these tent sales by transient vendors. I believe I speak for all Philadelphia dealers," he said.
Mayor James A. Young told Griffis and the other dealers that he had fielded several calls objecting to transient vendors in recent weeks but noted that the city's hands were tied because of state law.
Attorney Robert Thomas agreed.
Transient vendors permits are allowed by state law as long as the seller follows state guidelines and has a transient vendor license.
Thomas said he had discussed the matter with both the state Tax Commission and the Attorney General's office and received the same answer.
Thomas said if the city denied a permit to a licensed transient vendor it "would wind up in court. The state law says you have to issue a permit if they have a transient vendor license," he said.
Young told Griffis and others in attendance that it was important for them, city officials and others to voice their opinions "in a strong way" to state legislators to get the law changed.
In other action, the board:
Approved a resolution approving the transfer of the MetroCast franchise to BCI Mississippi Broadband, which is in the processing of purchasing the company.
Paid Waggoner Engineering $5,300 for professional services on the Police Station grant.
Approved a road bore by AT&T along Range Avenue and across west Main Street and across west Beacon Street.
Approved a road bore by C-Spire along Pecan Avenue to Herman Alford Highway to Saxon Airport Road.
Approved the rezoning of a 3.9 acres of property on Mississippi 16 west from Residential-1 to Commercial-3, after no objections were voiced.
Approved a street light at the intersection of Bounds Avenue and McKee Street.
Accepted the resignation of Casey J. McGowan from the Philadelphia Police Department effective Aug. 1.
Accepted the resignations of Jeremy Shields, effective Aug. 1, and Patrick Warner, effective Aug. 2, with the fire department.
Adopted an order proclaiming the City of Philadelphia as a Purple Heart city.