Portage approves tightening solicitor's licenses

2013-12-08T00:00:00Z Portage approves tightening solicitor's licensesJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | Beginning next year, when a door-to-door solicitor bangs on a front door in Portage, they better have a large, visible identification tag.

The tag would be the first indication the solicitor and the company they are working for has been licensed by the city.

The City Council unanimously approved amendments to Portage's solicitor's licensing ordinance this week.

The Board of Works, Mayor James Snyder said, prompted the city to take another look at the ordinance and make changes. That board is charged with approving solicitor's licenses.

City Attorney Gregg Sobkowski said the changes will require a name and contact telephone numbers of a supervisor so that they could be reached in case of a problem.

It will also require the company to conduct and pay for national background checks for each individual going door-to-door. Previously, Portage conducted background checks, but were limited to only conducting statewide checks.

It also requires a $25 application fee to offset the cost of the application in the clerk's office.

In addition, each person will be issued an identification badge. The badges, officials said, don't endorse the products being sold, but let residents know the person at their door has been vetted.

Officials advised, with the new law, if someone comes to the door without the city-issued identification badge, Portage residents are urged to call police.

"Every summer we get people from out of state," Clerk-Treasurer Chris Stidham said. "Getting their information was difficult. Now we will be able to with the national background check."

"There's some animals out there and by requiring background checks we want to make sure those animals aren't knocking at your door," Councilman Ted Uzelac said.

"We want our residents to feel safe answering their doors," Snyder said.

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