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Salem selectmen consider ending Sunday sales permits

SALEM — As selectmen and town officials have continued the process of streamlining and updating town ordinances, they have run across a handful that may not be worth keeping on the books.

One recent ordinance selectmen are considering doing away with calls for a $50 licensing fee for businesses that want to open on Sundays.

Several selectmen have raised questions about how many of the town’s businesses that operate on Sundays have the licenses as well as about the enforcement of the ordinance and if the processing of the permits is the best use of town resources.

Just under 230 Sunday sales permits were issued this year, according to Assistant Town Manager Leon Goodwin, bringing in more than $11,000 of revenue. Goodwin said there are costs associated with issuing the permits, as well as about a week of administrative work for one full-time staffer.

“You asked about enforcement; there is no enforcement that has been done,” Goodwin told selectmen earlier this week. “We could do enforcement moving forward and we may want to do so.”

Selectman Michael Lyons said 227 permits seems like a low number given the number of businesses in Salem that are likely open on Sundays.

“I think we’re one of like one or two communities that collects (this fee) in the state,” said Lyons. “I think it’s time for it to go.”

Selectman Stephen Campbell said if the town does keep the ordinance on the books, the town should enforce it.

“I’m not in favor of having laws that we don’t enforce,” said Campbell. “My general principle is that if it’s a law, it’s enforced. If it’s not enforced, why are 220 paying and the other how ever many are not?”

Town Manager Keith Hickey said he would try to determine how many businesses there are in town that are open Sundays by the time selectmen hold a second public hearing on the ordinance at their June 23 meeting.

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