Eddy County explores business licensing ordinance
August 28, 2017
Eddy County, NM
By Adrian C Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus
Amid a local controversy about man camps and RV parks in Eddy County, officials are looking to give teeth to a proposed requirement that the camps housing transient oil workers register for a business license.
All businesses in Eddy County would be required to register with the county if a drafted ordinance is passed after a public hearing and vote by county commissioners.
Work on the ordinance began in May amid efforts to regulate the RV parks and man camps after public outcry among La Huerta residents.
Eddy County currently has no mechanism in place to license and track businesses.
Director of Community Services Wesley Hooper said the ordinance will allow Eddy County to keep a record of new businesses in the area, and to inform them of various administrative requirements and tax dues.
"The biggest reason for it is just to know what kinds of businesses are coming to town, and where they're located," Hooper said. "It's trying to help the public and direct them where they need to go for the right forms."
The ordinance will apply to all businesses in the county, Hooper said, and will help identify gross receipts tax responsibilities.
"Any businesses in the county have got to pay GRTs," he said. "You really can't track it."
Hooper said many businesses that open in Eddy County are from out of state, and are unaware of New Mexico's requirements.
He said the ordinance will help ensure out-of-town businesses make a smooth transition.
Another advantage to the ordinance, Hooper said, is planning.
He said the county needs to be aware of what businesses are planning to set up in Eddy County, in order to fully plan public projects.
"The biggest benefit is it will help future planning," he said.
The business license ordinance will go to public hearing alongside the county's ordinance to regulate man camps and RV parks, Hooper said.
He said the business license requirement will work with the RV ordinance in creating a method of licensing the parks as will be required.
"We'd like to get two done at the same time, just to be efficient," he said. "We're trying to pass them at the same time."
County Planner Steve McCroskey said there are up to 50 man camps in the Eddy County unlicensed through county.
He said being able to track man camps, RV parks and all other businesses will help Eddy County's bottom line.
"Business licensing is something we need in the county," McCroskey said. "It will help track GRTs and other things that come into the county. Right now, we have no way to track it. There are a lot of GRTs that we miss.
Many businesses who pay GRT taxes file directly to the state, McCroskey said, when a portion is owed to Eddy County.
He said the ordinance will ensure the county receives the taxes it is owed.
"The ordinance is going to target all businesses in Eddy County," McCroskey said. "We won't be imposing new taxes, but we'll be able to see some taxing benefits at the county level instead of everything going to the state."
"It will help locate (businesses) and keep tabs on things. We'll know what's going on."
Anyone out of compliance with the ordinance, as proposed, could be subject to a $300 fine or 90 days in jail.
A public meeting on the ordinance is planned for 6 p.m. August 3, at the Eddy County Public Works Building, 2611 S. 13th St., in Artesia.
Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, firstname.lastname@example.org or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.