Charlotte County will charge panhandlers a $10 fee

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Man panhandles as he holds a sign. (WINK News photo)
Man panhandles as he holds a sign. (WINK News photo)

In an effort to discourage panhandling, Charlotte County plans to charge a fee and designate certain roads where it is legal.

Donald Grupe said he has been living in Charlotte County for years. The one thing he does not want to see on local roadways are panhandlers.

“I feel like they need to be out finding themselves a job,” Grupe said. “There’s too many out there to actually be standing here bothering working people and slowing them down when they’re trying to do what they’re supposed to be doing.”

But Michael Zarzano said it is every American’s right to do so.

Charlotte County Commissioners as they unanimously approved an ordinance charging a fee for a permit to panhandle. (WINK News photo)

“This is a free country,” said Zarzano, a neighbor. “If you’re poor and you are down and out and need help, you should have the right to be able to stand on a street corner and beg for money or ask for money.”

Charlotte County Commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance that will charge panhandlers a $10 fee. Panhandling will only be allowed at certain intersections.

Jeffrey Jozefiak, who works with Charlotte County Fire and EMS, said in their panhandling they want to raise money for a good cause.

“We just want to get back out on the street, put money in the boots,” Jozefiak said, “so that we can help the kids here in Charlotte County that suffer with MDA,” or muscular dystrophy, which is where abnormal genes lead to muscle degeneration.

County commissioners said firefighters and any panhandlers need to have a permit by the second weekend of March.

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