Fines may be coming for lapsed licensees

August 17, 2017
Jackson Hole, WY

By John Spina

In July Elevation by Salvador Dali, a high-end, anti-aging skin care store in Crabtree Corner, was found to have been operating without a business license for three weeks.

Sparking a wider compliance check, the lack of business licenses was found to be a much larger problem than initially thought. Lt. Roger Schultz of the Jackson Police Department estimated that around 100 businesses in Jackson are operating illegally.

“There are quite a number of businesses in the town of Jackson doing business without a business license,” he said. “From my understanding the town is losing in the hundreds of thousands [in application fees.]

“The new code enforcement officer is going to be addressing issues in regards to people operating without a business license,” he said. “If you have been getting away with it, that is going to be coming to an end very soon.”

Brian Morris, the town’s recently hired code enforcement officer, said he has begun digging into the town’s detailed records for businesses licenses, but his top priority is focused on reining in illegal short-term rentals.

“I’m just now delving into it,” he said, “but as summer slows down I plan on spending more time on business licensees.”

From his initial inquires Morris said it appears the bulk of noncompliant businesses is a symptom of oversight and ignorance. Business owners forget to renew their licenses or simply don’t know they need to apply for one.

“There are always those that don’t want to run their business properly, but I think that’s a small portion of the people,” he said. “There are a lot of rules and regulations. Coming into it I’m more focused on educating people and helping people get to where they need to be rather than punishing them.”

In the case of Elevation by Salvador Dali, store owner Joivanni Belinni said he thought he got his business license when he applied for a tax permit.

Because it never had a business license Elevation by Salvador Dali was fined $500 and forced to close until it obtained one. Those that allowed their licenses to lapse will be shown slightly more leniency and simply be required to reapply immediately.

It took only five days for Elevation by Salvador Dali to get its license. Most business licenses are processed within 14 workdays or less.

The application for a business license requires a federal employer’s ID number or employer’s Social Security number, unless the owner can prove an exemption, and stats about square footage, parking and intended use.

Once a fee is paid — based on the number of employees and type of business — the Planning and Building Department, Jackson Hole Fire/EMS and the police department must approve the application before the Finance Department puts it in the mail. A business license is valid for one year.

Contact John Spina at 732-5911, [email protected] or @JHNGtown.