Business license pricing comes under fire

May 8, 2017
Payette, ID

By Rob Ruth | Independent-Enterprise

Payette City Councilor Craig Jensen is unhappy with the City of Payette’s business license pricing policy.

The problem Jensen sees is that Payette’s charge of $25 is considerably higher than the price set by other small Idaho cities he has checked, and Payette also requires business owners to purchase a new license every time they move the business.

“It’s a 25-dollar pop each time,” Jensen complained during a discussion of the issue at Monday night’s work session of the Payette City Council.

Jensen had asked the item to be added to the work session agenda after he was contacted by Barbara Wilson, owner of ABM Alterations. Several months ago the business moved to 126 S. Main St., its third location within Payette, and Wilson was recently notified by City Hall that she needed to buy a new license immediately.

She said the new license would be the third she has purchased for this business.

For Jensen, whose personal focus area within the city’s long-running strategic planning project involves ferreting out all “nuisance fees” from the city’s policies and procedures affecting business and initiating the fees’ reduction or extinction, is certain that the business license policy so qualifies.

He said he contacted the cities of Fruitland, New Plymouth, and Weiser to check their pricing. Although Fruitland does require a new business license every time a business moves, a license there only costs $5. New Plymouth, meanwhile, only exacts a one-time charge of $5, and Weiser doesn’t even issue business licenses.

“My first concern is the cost,” Jensen said. “Since we’re trying to act like we’re a business-friendly community, … we’re a little expensive and a little hard to deal with.”

Jensen added, “I put this into the category of nuisance fees.”

Councilor Ray Wickersham said he could see eliminating the fee altogether, but he wouldn’t be inclined to take the partial measure of reducing it.

“I would either go with nothing, or keep it at twenty-five dollars as a one-time fee,” Wickersham said.

“I’m also in agreement [with Jensen],” Councilor Nancy Dale said. “It fits into your nuisance fee category.”

“Personally, I wouldn’t want to go the way of Weiser and not have a business license,” said Councilor Lee Nelson.

Mayor Jeff Williams pointed out that the fire chief makes contact with business owners and performs inspections as needed in connection with any new license. This can include performing inspections of a new location for an existing business that was previously licensed.

“I think it’s important to our public safety that we do have the fire department go out and look at the places,” Williams said.

The city’s business license pricing is set by ordinance, Williams said, so an ordinance change will be required.