August 10, 2016
August 8, 2016
Reading officials and trash haulers still at odds over business licenses, tax
By Dan Kelly
READING, PA - At least three of 12 trash haulers singled out by Reading officials for not having business licenses and failing to pay business privilege taxes believe they have an ironclad defense.
Cindy Kemp, co-owner of Cleon Kemp Sanitation, said Friday that she has a letter dated March 19, 2007, from the city tax department saying that unless the firm had a physical location in the city, it did not need a business license or have to pay business privilege taxes.
"We're not located in the city," Kemp said. "We're in Exeter Township, and we pay taxes there so we don't need a license or to pay taxes to the city according to this letter."
Kemp said all the haulers doing business in Reading also had received the letter absolving them of Reading business privilege taxes and license fees.
"We all have the letter," she said.
However, City Managing Director W. Glenn Steckman III said the letter was not based on legislation but rather on a Commonwealth Court ruling that said a business not located in the municipality didn't have to pay the privilege tax.
"That decision was appealed to the state Supreme Court and it was overturned," Steckman said.
Apparently the city tax division sent out the exemption letter to haulers after the Commonwealth Court ruling in September 2014 but before the case was shot down by the state Supreme Court in May 2015, Steckman said.
But that message apparently never got back to city tax clerks.
Keith Kemp, co-owner of Keith Kemp Sanitation, Robeson Township, said that he has the letter, too.
"I've gone in there every year for the past five years and the girl in there will not let me buy a license or pay any tax because she said we are exempt," he said.
The business license costs $55 and the tax is 1.5 percent of gross revenues.
The haulers made the comments after Steckman held a press conference Friday to announce that 12 of 19 trash haulers working in Reading have not obtained a business license or paid business privilege taxes for at least five years. City officials initially said there were 20 haulers, but one firm had bought another.
In addition to withholding licenses for the companies until they pay the back taxes and license fees, Steckman said he has asked City Solicitor Charles D. Younger to determine if criminal and civil citations can be issued against the haulers.
"They are required to obtain a license and pay the tax," Steckman said. "All of these folks were sent letters in mid-July saying they owed business taxes and license fees and only one responded and they (the others) chose to ignore them."
Contact Dan Kelly: 610-371-5040 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE: http://www.readingeagle.com/news/article/reading-officials-and-trash-haulers-still-at-odds-over-business-licenses-tax More...
August 2, 2016
Diamond City, AR
Diamond City considers new business license ordinance
Harrison Daily Times; www.harrisondaily.com
By David Holsted
DIAMOND CITY — An ordinance establishing the requirements for a business license in Diamond City was introduced into the July 26 City Council meeting.
The ordinance states that the city currently has no system to identify, classify or quantify businesses or their owners within the city limits.
First-time applicants will pay $20 with renewals being $10. Application for the license, along with the fee, is due by Jan. 31 of each year. All renewals will be due by Jan. 31 of each successive year.
Any person or entity doing business in the city and failing to make an application or pay the applicable fee may be cited with a misdemeanor offense, punishable by fines and costs up to $1,000. Diamond City may also take necessary civil action to close or collect from the business.
The ordinance also provides some exemptions from the requirement of a business license. They are churches and non-profit organizations, farmer markets and residential or commercial landlords.
The ordinance also addresses home occupations, which include, but are not limited to, art studio, dressmaking and the professional office of a physician, dentist, lawyer, engineer, architect, accountant, salesman, real estate agent, insurance agent or similar occupations.
Tuesday night saw the first reading of the ordinance. It will require three readings, the next two coming at the August and September council meetings.
In other business, the council accepted the resignation of alderman Tina Jackson. She was then appointed as interim treasurer/recorder. Mayor Jan Hudson said that Jackson will finish out the year, then will be subject to an election.
The council voted to table an agenda item concerning a new city building permit application and process.
SOURCE: http://harrisondaily.com/news/diamond-city-considers-new-business-license-ordinance/article_5797842c-550f-11e6-a1ef-cb75953b2213.html More...
July 27, 2016
The Speak Is Back, But the Speakeasy’s Liquor License Problems May Not Be Over
The Washingtonian; www.washingtonian.com
By Jessica Sidman
Most modern-day “speakeasies” only pretend to be illegal drinking dens, but K Street basement bar The Speak really was one. The place didn’t have a proper liquor license, and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board shut it down in November after about six months of operation. The regulatory troubles also put a halt to a “caviar fusion lounge” planned upstairs from the same owner, Ajiboye Laosebikan.
But now, The Speak is back, and the half-built caviar lounge is being transformed into Vieux Carre, a New Orleans-inspired cocktail bar serving po’ boys, Cajun fries, and snowballs. Both bars at 1413 K Street, Northwest, come from local construction company owner James Tillman, who took over the lease from Laosebikan. Tillman had been a fan of The Speak, so he called brand consultant Seth McClelland, who conceptualized the original speakeasy, to help him reopen it and create the new bar upstairs.
It turns out, however, The Speak may still be a real speakeasy. According to Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration spokesperson Jessie Cornelius, it’s a violation for an establishment to operate under any trade name that has not been approved by the liquor board. The Speak is not an approved trade name—only Vieux Carre is listed on the liquor license. Cornelius says ABRA is investigating the matter.
McClelland, who’s acted as the face of the business, declined to comment about the trade name issue yesterday afternoon.
“This is all news to me,” says Andrew Kline, the lawyer who helped Tillman with his liquor license application. “I don’t know anything about that.”
In an interview last week, McClelland—who previously owned One Lounge and whose consulting company YBC stands for “Young Ballers Creative”—said he wasn’t aware of any problems with the original liquor license before The Speak got shut down. The bar ran into problems when ABRA inspectors showed up on November 1, 2015, after receiving an anonymous complaint about the establishment operating without an appropriate liquor license. The liquor board had not yet approved a transfer of the license from the previous occupant of the space, Tattoo Bar, to Laosebikan’s company, Boyermarketing LLC. Also, the license did not cover the basement of the building where The Speak is located.
“We walked away very sadly because I just really loved this bar a lot,” McClelland said.
When the bar reopened last week, few changes had been made. Patrons still descend a set of stairs into an unfinished plaster-covered atrium with a “for rent” sign and enter the bar through a door hidden behind a framed mirror.
The bar plays hip-hop music and serves classic cocktails. Bartender Jeff Coles, who oversaw the drink menu at The Speak the first go-around, is back again as beverage director. The only foods are chips and olives.
Upstairs at Vieux Carre, one of the few remnants of the never-completed caviar bar was an ornate iron railing that lined the mezzanine and staircase. Between that and the alley-like entrance, “I immediately just thought of New Orleans,” McClelland says. That’s how the concept for a New Orleans-style cocktail bar came to be.
The cocktail menu, also created by Coles, will play on the French, American Southern, and Caribbean influences of the Big Easy. Coles plans to serve “craft” versions of sickly sweet party staples like Hurricanes and Hand Grenades as well as older classics that people may be less familiar with, like the Brandy Crusta, La Louisiane, and Absinthe Frappe.
The bar will also serve a Ramos Gin Fizz, which is a New Orleans breakfast classic. Many bars don’t serve it because it requires at 12 minutes of shaking to make properly. “Some of these big old New Orleans hotel bars you’ll see where people are ordering a lot of them, they employ people who aren’t actually barbacks, just sort of professional shakers,” Coles says. Vieux Carre takes a shortcut by using a whipped cream canister to emulsify the drink much faster.
The food menu will consist of Cajun fries and po’ boys with oyster, shrimp, sausage, or chicken. If you don’t want it in sandwich form, you can get a “po’ bowl” with just the proteins and a dipping sauce. There will also be snowballs with or without alcohol.
If all goes as planned, Vieux Carre will open Friday.
SOURCE: https://www.washingtonian.com/2016/07/27/d-c-s-real-speakeasy-now-faux-speakeasy/ More...
July 26, 2016
Business license fee raised
The Skagway News; www.skagwaynews.com
By Elise Giordano
Borough assembly members approved the first reading of an ordinance raising the cost of municipal business licenses and removing a provision for quarterly sales tax return compensation.
Licenses have cost $10 since 1996 but will now cost $50. Businesses will no longer deduct between $10 and $100 each quarter from their sales tax returns, as it results in a loss for the municipality.
The change was first discussed by the finance committee and later by civic affairs.
Assemblyman Tim Cochran said $100 was originally entertained, so $50 is a happy medium.
The ordinance was unanimously approved and should it pass a second reading, will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017.
SOURCE: http://skagwaynews.com/business-license-fee-raised/ More...
July 22, 2016
Pacific Grove, CA
Pacific Grove wants to increase business license tax 140 percent
By Caitlin Conrad
PACIFIC GROVE, Calif. —Pacific Grove city leaders will decide at Wednesday's City Council meeting if they will ask residents to approve an increase on business license taxes on the November ballot.
The city wants to increase the business license tax by 140 percent.
The proposed increase would take the current rate from $0.001 per dollar of gross receipts to $0.0024.
If passed, the initiative would also remove the current cap.
Right now, if a business makes more than $3 million in gross receipts, they only pay $3,000 in business license tax because that is the current cap.
City Manager Ben Harvey said there are about 20 businesses in Pacific Grove affected by the cap.
The city has been exploring ways to increase revenue for months and this is one of the ideas the council thinks could work.
"It's a beautiful old city but we need to start investing in our city," Harvey said. "Our infrastructure is very tired, and we don't have any mechanisms currently to do anything other than the status quo."
The business community is not happy about the proposal.
"Every dollar counts in a small business, and it would be an extra $200 or $300 a year for me," said Joe Shammas, owner of Pacific Grove Travel.
Shammas employs four people and said he already has enough expenses.
"We have rent, of course, all of our insurances, my salaries, you know everything that a small business has to pay," he said.
Shammas isn't the only concerned business owner.
"I think everybody is a little bit nervous about it," said Rosemary Valuch, owner of Carried Away Boutique.
Valuch said she plans to attend the City Council meeting to get all the details, but thinks the ramifications could be serious.
"Adding that extra 140 percent, I think it comes out to is a big chunk for someone like me," she said.
Harvey said the city currently takes in $350,000 from the business license tax and estimates raising the tax would bring an additional $500,000 to the general fund.
Because the funds are going to the general fund, the ballot measure will need a simple majority, 50 percent plus one, of the vote.
"We're hoping it doesn't even make it to the ballot, because the businesses are really squeezed in Pacific Grove," Shammas said. "We're just trying to make our way and make the town a nice place to live."
Tax measure for the general fund also have to go on a ballot for the general election.
If it doesn't make it on the 2016 ballot, the city will have to wait for the next general election.
SOURCE: http://www.ksbw.com/news/pacific-groves-looks-to-increase-business-license-tax/40805584 More...
July 20, 2016
Mountain Home, AR
City awards eight business licenses in June
The Baxter Bulletin; www.baxterbulletin.com
By Scott Liles, email@example.com
The city of Mountain Home issued eight new business licenses and collected more than $8,000 in licensing revenue in June, according to Roberta Pack, Mountain Home office manager.
The city issued licenses to two restaurants, a sewing center, a beauty salon and several home-based businesses, according to Pack’s June report.
June business licenses were issued to the following:
• Western Sizzlin, Richard Davidson, 1502 U.S. Hwy. 62 East, a restaurant.
• Mountain Wealth Management LLC, Josh Willard, 341 U.S. Hwy. 62 East Suite B, a financial consultant.
• Clutter Free, Michael Schnaufer, 120 Rosewood Loop No. 1, a home-based business.
• Ragalia Raz, Mary Burr, 105 Spring Park Drive, a home-based Internet business.
• Apex Lawn Care, Robert Jacobelli, 172 Lucky Place, a home-based business.
• Spice House, Ricky Mehmood, 50 Paul Wood Lane, a restaurant.
• Salon Red, Khin Ly, 9 E. Fifth Street, a beauty salon.
• Sew Smart Sewing Center DBA Pennelope’s Cupboard, Inc., Nelle Miley, 307 S. Main St. Suite 9, a retail sewing machine business.
Revenue from licensing in June totaled $8,794.44, according to June’s report. The breakdown is as follows:
• $7,215.44 from alcohol tax and licenses;
• $1,219.00 from occupation licenses;
• $40 from pet licenses;
• $320 from garage sales.
SOURCE: http://www.baxterbulletin.com/story/news/local/2016/07/12/city-awards-eight-business-licenses-june/86943502/ More...
July 19, 2016
Businesses thirsty for additional Canton liquor licenses
By Aimee Chiavaroli | Correspondent
Canton selectmen decided to issue up to four of the five pouring licenses and up to two of the package store licenses during their June 28 meeting.
At the June 7 meeting, selectmen announced Canton was granted special legislation to get five additional alcohol pouring licenses and two package store licenses.
Business owners will have the opportunity to apply for a license and present their case for why they need. The date for the separate public hearing has not yet been determined.
“The board contemplated not issuing all of the licenses,” said retiring Town Administrator Bill Friel, whose retirement began after the meeting.
Selectman Victor Del Vecchio suggested not all of the licenses should be issued at this point.
“It’s a good idea to make a number of them available, but it’s a good idea to hold back one or two of each,” Del Vecchio said.
Attorney Paul Schneiders, who was attending the meeting on behalf of four businesses, asked selectmen to allow applications for four pouring licenses.
Schneiders was representing Mai Place, Boston Mutual, Oliveira's Steak House and Best Western. He mentioned Canton Holdings may want to get a liquor license in the future if they decide to do a restaurant.
“I’d at least like to have them apply,” he said.
About a year ago, Schneiders said he asked for more licenses to be made available for establishments he represented. Now he wants to make sure those businesses can apply for the licenses.
Mai Place already has a beer and wine license, but Schneiders said the restaurant has been trying to get an all alcohol pouring license for 13 years.
Selectman Kevin Connolly said he felt the board was being blamed for that not happening.
“Several people have called me and said ‘why are you not giving it to them?’” Connolly said. “They chose not to purchase the license that was available.”
Connolly said Mai Place had an opportunity to purchase the license for $150,000, but declined.
Schneiders said Mai Place couldn’t afford that offer.
Schneiders said businesses want to come to Canton, but won’t if they cannot apply for a liquor license.
He said Oliveira’s Steak House wants to take place of the closed Gap store in the Village Mall in town with a 200-seat restaurant. This would be a $1.4 million project.
“That plan is dead in the water if we can’t at least apply for a license,” Schneiders said. “No one wants to do a restaurant without a liquor license.”
Selectmen, however, said they want to know these businesses are serious about having a space in town.
“We want a good faith demonstration that they’re gonna be here,” Del Vecchio said. “Many of these sound quite appealing, but let’s not do this prematurely.”
Selectmen Chairman Robert Burr noted that the liquor licenses are non-transferable and can’t be sold in the future. If the owners of Mai Place do get an all alcohol license in the future, they would have to give their beer and wine license back to the board.
“Now with this, we’re being given a little more authority,” Burr said, referencing the special legislation and the additional licenses.
Selectmen said they are being cautious with how many licenses they choose to make available at this time, but they may be able to ask for more if they need to.
Connolly said Foxboro has asked for more licenses, so it’s possible Canton could get more in the future as well.
Connolly suggested making four of the five pouring licenses and two package licenses available, which the board approved 4-0. Vice-Chairman Mark Porter was absent from the meeting.
SOURCE: http://canton.wickedlocal.com/news/20160718/businesses-thirsty-for-additional-canton-liquor-licenses More...
July 18, 2016
City of Tallahassee to repeal business license tax
By: Mariel Carbone
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- More money back in the pockets of local business owners.
Tallahassee leaders voted Wednesday night to repeal the city's business license tax, and became the first city in the state to do so.
This comes at the request of the Chamber of Commerce. Chairman Kathy Bell told Eyewitness News that it's all about the growth of local business. She said it's an important gesture from the city and lets business owners know the community appreciates them.
"Our city commission, our commissioners, our mayor, also look at it as a privilege to have business here. And if there is something that we can do on the public sector side to contribute to that, and show you that we understand, your being here is creating jobs, growing your business, employing our residents, it's a significant contributor to the stability and growth of Tallahassee."
The business tax is on average $119 for local businesses and $303 for non-local businesses. It will affect about 12,000 businesses across the city, and save a total of nearly $2 million.
Business owners have mixed responses, but some say that having one less thing to worry about benefits their consumers.
"When you own a business, you have 90 million different things going on at any different day. And what you're trying to do is make sure the customer has the best experience because that's the life and blood of your business. Not making sure you have to be at city hall to pay another tax," said Matt Thompson, owner of Madison Social.
"It goes back to the community for sure because we're able to increase our stock levels by that amount; it comes off the overhead," said Michael Rachlin, owner of Head Over Heels.
Still, other businesses owners said the savings are minimal, and it won't really make much of a difference.
However, for companies that employ individual professionals, like doctors or lawyers, there will be a big impact. Those businesses must pay the tax for each one of the individual professionals.
An ordinance change is still required for this repeal to go through. It won't go into effect until the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
SOURCE: http://www.wctv.tv/content/news/City-of-Tallahassee-to-repeal-business-license-tax--386879241.html More...
July 14, 2016
The City of Tucker will issue first business licenses beginning July 1
Dekalb Neighbor; www.mdjonline.com
Friday, July 1, the City of Tucker will begin issuing its first official commercial business licenses.
Tucker officials will take photos and celebrate the first official business license application, which is expected to go to Tucker business owner Gerald Carter of Carter Fiber.
Applications will be accepted at City Hall, 4119 Adrian Street, starting at 9 a.m. Business owners wanting to apply for a commercial business license must bring proper documentation to be considered.
“We look forward to taking our next step in making Tucker a fully functioning city,” said Mayor Frank Auman. “And issuing business licenses will bring us one step closer to our goal.”
If businesses have already obtained a 2016 business license from DeKalb County, there is no need to apply for a City of Tucker license. The City will use the County’s business license fee structure until it adopts one of its own.
Voters approved a ballot referendum in November 2015 to declare Tucker, a nearly 125-year-old community, DeKalb County’s newest city. Since the city’s inauguration, council members have worked to make sure the city begins on a solid foundation.
On May 23, the City of Tucker selected CH2M to provide municipal services for the newly-formed city. The CH2M team will manage the city’s administration, finance and community development departments.
CH2M will perform code enforcement, planning and zoning, and building permitting and inspections. The firm will also handle administrative services, including revenue collection, financial support and general staff support.
SOURCE: http://www.mdjonline.com/neighbor_newspapers/dekalb/the-city-of-tucker-will-issue-first-business-licenses-beginning/article_10eaacde-3ee4-11e6-acd6-a30fb21eda29.html More...
June 23, 2016
Gov. Cuomo Announces Agreement to Modernize Alcoholic Beverage Control Law
The agreement allows alcohol to be sold earlier on Sundays
New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday an agreement on legislation to modernize New York’s 80-year-old Alcoholic Beverage Control Law.
The agreement allows alcohol to be sold earlier on Sundays, adds provisions to broaden retail sales by producers, and reduces fees for wineries, distilleries, breweries and cideries statewide.
The agreement expands Sunday sales at restaurants and bars by changing the statewide opening hours from noon to 10 a.m. In addition, the agreement enables these licensees to apply for a permit, limited to twelve per year, to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises on Sundays between 8 a.m. and the new 10 a.m. opening hour in areas outside New York City.
The agreement also combines craft manufacturing licenses into one application to reduce paperwork for these small businesses.
Current law requires that wine sold at retail for off-premises consumption be kept in their original sealed containers, and consequently, New York wineries are prohibited from filling growlers. The agreement enacts a change to the law to allow wineries to fill their customer’s growlers. In addition, the agreement authorizes wineries and farm wineries to allow customers to take home partially finished bottles of wine.
The agreement allows liquor stores to sell gift wrapping and gift bags to their customers.
Legislation to amend the ABC Law was first proposed by Governor Cuomo in May as a direct result of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law Working Group – a blue ribbon panel created by Governor Cuomo in November 2015 tasked with developing recommendations to modernize the laws governing the manufacturing, wholesale and retail of alcoholic beverages in New York State.
SOURCE: http://www.mychamplainvalley.com/news/gov-cuomo-announces-agreement-to-modernize-alcoholic-beverage-control-law More...
June 22, 2016
Multnomah County, OR
Multnomah County Tobacco Shops Need New Licenses
By Kristian Foden-Vencil
Multnomah County adopted new rules for tobacco licenses this week.
Stores that sell tobacco will have to apply for a license starting July 1.
Whether a shop is a “mom and pop affair,” or a quarter of a million square foot Walmart, the new tobacco license costs $580.
The money pays for Multnomah County inspectors to visit stores and make sure they’re not selling to minors. Shops are meant to check the IDs of any customer appearing to be younger than 27.
Multnomah County director Tricia Tillman called it a major public health victory.
“I think in 2012 it was one-in-four retailers sold to children and in 2014, it was almost one-in-three. So we know that retailers are not adhering to the law that protects children,” she said.
No county general fund money will be used to run the program, just like the restaurant inspection program.
Enforcement doesn’t start until January 1.
SOURCE: http://www.opb.org/news/article/multnomah-county-tobacco-shops-need-new-licenses-/ More...
June 20, 2016
Grayson City Council changes roadways, enforces business license penalties
The Daily Independent; www.dailyindependent.com
By Rachel Adkins | The Daily Independent
GRAYSON - Converting a one-way street into a two-way street and enforcing penalties for businesses that have not paid their fees were discussed by the Grayson City Council Tuesday.
Making 5th Street two-way has been voted on twice already by the council and was approved for implementation on June 1 before falling through. At the Tuesday meeting, the transformation was finally set in stone and will be effective July 1.
Closing the alley on Armstrong Street outside the Church of Christ was also addressed at the meeting by resident Bill Bush.
“It’s not for convenience, it’s for safety,” said Bush, referring to the chance children could get hit by vehicles in the alley. Bush requested the alley, which runs adjacent to Short Street and Rupert Lane, be closed off from the front of the church to the nearby apartment complex.
His request was approved. The portion of the alley will close July 1.
Bush asked for the conversion of 4th Street, a one-way street, into a two-way street as well, but the council did not agree.
The council discussed six businesses that have not paid license fees. Council member Duanne Suttles, who took over for Mayor George Steele, explained that police must hand-deliver letters detailing the fees to the delinquent businesses.
The business then has 10 days to pay. If not, on the 10th day the business will be ordered closed and if it remains open will be fined $500 each day.
The council agreed to enforce the ordinance and to send out the letters on Wednesday to start the process.
(606) 326-2653 | firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE: http://www.dailyindependent.com/news/grayson-city-council-changes-roadways-enforces-business-license-penalties/article_9cf34d76-333b-11e6-bc81-2752e69a7fb3.html More...
June 17, 2016
Barrington serves up new liquor license to draw craft breweries, distilleries
Chicago Tribune; www.chicagotribune.com
By Todd Shields, Pioneer Press
Crystal Lake and Lake Zurich have them, and Barrington may be next in line.
Peggy Blanchard, director of economic development for Barrington, said breweries run by independent beer makers have recently opened in both nearby villages.
On Monday, Barrington trustees positioned the village for the budding trend by unanimously approving a new liquor license category that would allow businesses to distill and serve alcohol on site.
"This is a trend in suburban communities, and we are watching what's happening in other towns," she said.
According to the village ordinance, eligible businesses for the new liquor license include brewpubs, wineries and distilleries.
Village Manager Jeff Lawler said village officials have received several informal inquiries from potential businesses about opening breweries in Barrington, although none have yet to request a license.
"But we know there's a lot of interest here in that type of liquor service," he said. "The village wants to be prepared for it."
The number of independent, smaller craft breweries across the country have increased dramatically in recent years, as the market for craft brews sees heightened demand. Roughly 4,225 craft breweries operated in the U.S. in 2015, up from a total of 2,401 in 2012, according to figures from the Colorado-based Brewers Association, a trade group representing independent beer makers.
Illinois also ranked 10th in the country for breweries in 2015 with 157 total, association figures show. In 2011, Illinois had 54 breweries. The state with the most breweries last year was California at 518 total, according to the association.
Lawler said increased local interest in breweries also is tied to the influx of restaurants that have recently opened in downtown Barrington.
The new liquor license does not restrict where breweries can open, but they generally must be located in commercial areas and not residential neighborhoods, he said. The village board also will consider granting each license when applications are submitted.
The annual fee for a license would cost an interested brewery, winery and distillery $2,500 total, according to the ordinance. Other requirements for the new license are similar to existing liquor regulations.
Barrington requires people serving alcohol to receive training under standards set by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, Lawler said. The state training program, commonly known as BASSET, educates sellers and servers to identify signs of customer intoxication and intervention methods.
The training also includes lessons on how to prevent underage sales and underage drinking, along with educating owners and employees on insurance, local ordinances and state laws on alcohol service, according to the Illinois Liquor Control Commission website.
Village officials made similar licensing moves when another business trend involving alcohol happened in Barrington about three years ago, Lawler said. The local Jewel and Heinen's grocery stores both wanted to serve customers beer and wine while they shopped, he recalled.
"They both have licenses now," he said. "They came to us for them."
email@example.com, Twitter: @tshields19
SOURCE: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/barrington/news/ct-bcr-barrington-micro-beer-tl-0623-20160616-story.html More...
June 16, 2016
City to consider ending business license tax
Tallahassee Democrat; www.tallahassee.com
By Sean Rossman, Democrat staff writer
The Tallahassee City Commission will discuss whether to revoke the Business License Tax during this year's budget negotiations.
The tax, a levy paid each year by about 12,000 city businesses when they renew their business licenses, generates nearly $2 million each year for the city's General Fund.
The Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce's Business Advocacy Committee voted to ask the city to repeal the tax during its 2016-17 budget negotiations. The committee's chairman, NAI Talcor president Ed Murray, made the recommendation in a June 3 letter to City Manager Rick Fernandez.
Fernandez said city staff is asking the commission to discuss the Chamber's request at its budget workshop on Monday and direct staff to bring back a report at the commission's July 13 budget workshop. If approved, the city would then have to determine budget cuts to account for the lost revenue.
The city's 2016-17 budget proposal said the city's effort to restore capital funding for roads and sidewalks may be affected if the city votes to repeal.
"This $1.9 million tax break for business is an important step for creating a more business-friendly environment in Tallahassee," said Chamber chairwoman Kathy Bell. "The Chamber’s mission is to be a catalyst for local business growth, we do that by advocating for policies that create a better business environment. We believe that repealing the Business License Tax does just that. We appreciate the City Manager including our recommendation in his budget proposal for fiscal year 2016-17. We look forward to the City Commission’s support of this important tax break for businesses in Tallahassee."
Contact Sean Rossman at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @SeanRossman on Twitter.
SOURCE: http://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/2016/06/13/city-discuss-revocation-business-license-tax/85843854/ More...
June 15, 2016
San Francisco, CA
Treasurer Gives Uber And Lyft Drivers Longer To Obtain Business Licenses, Forgives Fines
BY CALEB PERSHAN
Drivers for transportation network companies like Lyft and Uber who were told, depending on whom you ask, somewhat abruptly in April that they would need to obtain business licenses, are being granted two forms of reprieve. First, they'll have more time to pay up and register with the city, and second, they'll be granted forgiveness from previously enforced fines for past non-registration. Business licenses come at a cost of $91 per year, and the penalty for working without a license is $155 per year.
“It is my duty to fairly implement the business tax regulations in San Francisco,” city treasurer José Cisneros said according to a press release. “The ongoing litigation regarding the employment status of TNC drivers has resulted in significant confusion about business registration requirements in San Francisco."
So, in consultation with City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Cisneros will allow drivers the chance to register without penalty until August 31. Drivers who already paid their penalties (and interest) will be refunded, the treasurer assures.
The Examiner, which puts that number of registrants so far at 8,000, adds that Service Employees International Union 1021 would still like to see more changes from Cisneros. Namely, they'd like it if the TNCs themselves were on the hook for footing the bill for their contractor's business licenses.
"Please force tech giants like Uber and Lyft to pay their fair share, to protect both employee-drivers and riders,” Union leadersship wrote in an open letter. “The business registration tax should be placed squarely on their shoulders—they are the San Francisco businesses.” Other entities like United Drivers and the San Francisco Bay Area Drivers Association signed on to the letter, the Examiner says.
SOURCE: http://sfist.com/2016/06/10/treasurer_gives_uber_and_lyft_drive.php More...
June 14, 2016
Trimble OKs Ballard beer permits, business license
State Gazette; www.stategazette.com
By Rachel Townsend | email@example.com
The Trimble Board of Mayor and Alderman convened late Wednesday afternoon for a special called meeting to discuss the approval of two business licenses, as well as two beer permit applications that were submitted by local business owner Michael Ballard.
Representing Ballard at the meeting was event coordinator Alan Blankenship, who informed the board of Ballard's intentions to expand the distillery, creating a separately functioning, but adjoined, business that will be located behind the distillery's tasting room.
According to Blankenship, the business will be named 'Bootlegger Patio'. Catering for special event purposes, the business will welcome wedding receptions, live entertainment, special town events, and private parties.
Upon its opening, customers of the business will be able to bring their own liquor or beer product; however, all alcohol must be sealed upon arrival, and immediately turned over to the bartender.
"If a customer brought in a moonshine product, we would personally have their jar, with their name on it, kept behind the counter in order to properly regulate the amount of alcohol they intake," stated Blankenship.
Raising concerns over the safety of town residents, as well as the city's liability, was Alderman Bill Taylor.
"If we are having these events with people consuming alcohol, and Chief Don Curry, who is a part-time officer, possibly being off work during the time that the events may be scheduled, what authority figures will we have present to ensure that inhibited customers are acting in a safe manner? ... Would the consumption of alcohol on the premises be a liability on the city if an intoxicated customer attempted to harm another person?"
In response, Trimble Mayor Jon McFarland stated, "If they (Bootlegger's Patio) have customers who are showing signs of being overly intoxicated it is the responsibility of the business to ensure that those customers are removed from the premises.
"If Chief Curry is off work that night, we will have to call the Dyer County Sheriff's Department, but hopefully the business will be equipped to handle the situation, should one arise."
Further commenting on the discussion, Chief Curry added, "There are state regulations that say if a business has excessive complaints the city has a right to shut them down, so that is an option."
In closing, Mayor McFarland stated, "I hope it doesn't come to that, but we would not tolerate it. ... If there is an incident at the business, due to an overly intoxicated customer, then the business would be solely responsibly as state mandated."
Members of the board approved two separate motions approving the Bootlegger Patio for the receipt of both a business license and beer permit.
Members of the board also approved a business license for the Trimble Car Wash and Mini Storage, which has now swapped ownership.
In addition to the beer permit for Bootlegger Patio, Ballard also submitted an application for a permanent beer permit for the property located at 90 Parks Plaza, the site of Ballard's annual Beer Tent event.
Alderman Taylor said, "That sounds like to me that it will be at you all's (Blankenship and Ballard) discretion, and I'm not in agreeance to that. It advocates the spread of something that is against my beliefs, but I will go with the majority for sure. However, what kind of control does the city have in keeping those attending the Beer Tent from walking down the street with an open container?"
"We do have security who will be monitoring the tent and inspecting identification prior to entry. Security will also be checking to make sure that no one leaves the tent with an open container, and the entire tent is closed in. It's not visible to the public, they won't be able to see anyone drinking beers inside," replied Blankenship.
"With a permanent license, what would keep people from being able to drink there all the time?" questioned Curry.
In response, Blankenship stated, "We would only be drinking there during a special event. Michael just wanted me to ask if he could get a permanent beer license so that he wouldn't have to reapply every year. Michael does different events all over the country, having a permanent license would keep him from having to renew every time."
Members of the board agreed to table the issue of a permanent license until the June meeting, but did approve a motion for Ballard to receive a temporary beer permit for the location.
SOURCE: http://www.stategazette.com/story/2308704.html More...
June 10, 2016
Fairbanks Assembly to review five marijuana business licenses
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner; www.newsminer.com
By Amanda Bohman
FAIRBANKS — The first cannabis entrepreneurs hoping to get a state license come before the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly for a public hearing and review today.
Five cultivation businesses will be evaluated: the Tanana Herb Co., Purple Quail, Alaska Cannabis Cultivators, Pakalolo Supply Co. and Rosie Creek Farm.
The hearing before the assembly is one of many regulatory hurdles that an estimated 50 hoped-for marijuana businesses in the borough will need to cross before opening their doors.
“The only real criteria are that the operation must be consistent with our zoning, and we must have non-arbitrary reasons for rejecting it,” said John Davies, presiding officer of the assembly.
The assembly, as a new local marijuana industry regulatory authority, can protest the state license applications.
Borough code offers no criteria for evaluating marijuana businesses — unlike liquor licenses where the code lists suggested criteria.
A memorandum to the assembly from Borough Attorney Rene Broker states that the Alaska Marijuana Control Board will deny licenses to companies based on a protest from a local authority unless the board finds the protest to be arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.
The assembly can also suggest conditions be placed on the businesses, according to the attorney’s memo.
The five applications under review today have been evaluated by various borough departments to confirm that the businesses comply with land use rules and are paid up on their property taxes.
Tanana Herb Co. is located at 3495 Old River Landing in Fairbanks. The applicant, Leslea Nunley, wants to turn a small apartment building and storage facility into a 1,410-square-foot indoor marijuana grow.
Purple Quail is located at 440 Skyridge Drive in Fairbanks. Deborah Hutchens and Millard Toms want to grow pot in 1,364 square feet of a two-story garage.
Branden Roybal is behind Alaska Cannabis Cultivators. His plan is to grow cannabis in 4,020 square feet of a warehouse at 2693 Arla St. in Fairbanks.
The Hollister family, led by patriarch, Cole Hollister, will operate the Pakalolo Supply Co. at 1851 Fox Ave. in Fairbanks. They are planning to have a 12,834-square-foot marijuana grow in a warehouse. They also plan to eventually open a store.
Rosie Creek Farm is an established farm at 2659 Livingston Loop in Ester. Owners Michael Emers and Joan Hornig are planning to cultivate marijuana on 6.5 acres outdoors.
Assemblyman Lance Roberts said he is preparing motions to protest all of the applications because marijuana continues to be illegal under federal law but that he also has zoning, health and safety concerns.
Roberts said assembly members, when they are sworn in, make a pledge to uphold all laws, including federal law.
“I am not against pushing back on the federal government, but not necessarily on this issue,” he said.
Roberts said that in some cases the cultivation businesses are planned to operate in housing areas.
“Some of these are in residential neighborhoods that are not zoned residentially,” he said. “I am protesting those facilities on that ground.”
Roberts is also concerned about traffic and what will happen with waste products from the cultivation facilities.
“I think there is going to be a real danger from the leftovers,” he said.
Also today, the state Marijuana Control Board will meet to consider several state licenses for cultivation businesses, including the five that are coming to the Borough Assembly.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.
SOURCE: http://www.newsminer.com/marijuana/fairbanks-assembly-to-review-five-marijuana-business-licenses/article_8eb9faae-2e0c-11e6-a8d0-170422973e23.html More...
June 9, 2016
San Francisco, CA
City’s Uber, Lyft drivers paying more than $600 in late fees for $91 business license
The San Francisco Examiner; www.sfexaminer.com
By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez
Many Uber and Lyft drivers unexpectedly owe San Francisco more than $700 in late business fees, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.
At first, the fees were expected to be minimal.
More than 37,000 Uber and Lyft drivers in San Francisco grumbled when they first heard The City would require them to pay an annual $91 business license fee in April, the first time it was announced.
Now those same drivers are crying foul as those fees are skyrocketing for some who registered with the San Francisco Treasurer and Tax Collector’s Office.
Dan Carrigan, a 54-year old Uber and Lyft driver, told the Examiner his fees hit $780.
“It absolutely makes me rethink driving,” he said. “It’s really a deal killer.”
Carrigan showed the Examiner his digital bill from the treasurer’s office, which showed charges for four separate amounts, three of which totaled to about $250. Carrigan was told much of this was for penalties, interest and administrative fees levied for previous years he did not have a business license.
He’s not alone. Daniel Blagaila, another ride-hail driver, showed the Examiner his fee for his business license: $610, all told.
Lyft and Uber have long maintained their drivers are independent contractors — not employees — but the license fee may show one pitfall of that status, drivers said. It seems any Uber or Lyft driver who’s been on the road more than a year may owe these late penalties.
Amanda Kahn Fried, spokesperson for the treasurer’s office, said similar letters requiring business licenses were sent to 37,000 drivers.
“Any business that does not register timely (within 30 days of the start date) are assessed penalties and interest,” she wrote in an email to the Examiner.
If a business started in August 2014, but registered in May 2016, they’d be assessed the registration fee, plus penalties and interest for fiscal years 2014-15 and 2015-16, she wrote.
Doug Bloch represents the Teamster Joint Council 7, which has recently started organizing Uber and Lyft drivers around issues like these, with meetings all over the Bay Area.
“Our goal, the most important thing for the Teamsters, is to make sure the drivers have a voice in this process,” Bloch said, and, “we’re hearing consistently from drivers that they don’t mind paying the annual fee going forward, but they can’t afford it going back.”
The teamsters have heard from nearly a hundred drivers in the last few weeks, and this is “the number one issue,” Bloch said, adding, “we’d like to see these penalties erased.”
Shortly after the news was announced, Lyft sent a message to its drivers saying, “We feel the same way you do: The $91 licensing fee is an undue financial strain on drivers — especially in a city with a high cost of living — and goes against the flexibility we’ve fought for you to enjoy.”
Another Uber and Lyft driver, Gene Chamson, told the Examiner that Bay Area drivers cannot avoid driving in San Francisco — even if they want to.
“We’re expected to commit to do the ride, without knowing where the ride goes,” he said, as most ride-hail apps don’t show a passenger’s destination until they enter the vehicle.
He mostly drives in Oakland and Berkeley anyhow. But if he cancels ride offers on the Uber app, or tells riders he cannot go to San Francisco, he risks low ratings — and possible termination.
And multiple drivers told the Examiner they fear these fees, which are also in San Jose, spreading to other Bay Area cities.
Chamson is also building his own small business in addition to his ride-hail driving, which makes him similar to the poster-child of part time drivers for Uber and Lyft.
“The model works for part time driving,” Chamson said, “but not if you have to pay these license fees.”
SOURCE: http://www.sfexaminer.com/citys-uber-lyft-drivers-paying-600-late-fees-91-business-license/ More...
June 6, 2016
Sophia Pet Center closed due to lack of business license
By Cody Neff | Register-Herald Reporter
As little yellow puppies romped around and rolled on top of each other, they were completely oblivious to the tensions boiling a few feet away.
At the Sophia Pet Center, people were gathered outside the store Friday, peeking through the windows as they demanded answers.
“When is the owner going to be back?” Meagan Edwards asked.
“Those puppies are dirty and you can see how sick they are. I don’t think they even have any water. I know no one has been back here since 10 this morning because I’ve been here that long, Edwards added.”
Edwards was just one of the people looking for Jeffrey Kirshner so they could ask him about the conditions of the pet store.
Since it opened, there have been more than 20 complaints about Sophia Pet Center, Sophia Police said.
“And we’ve investigated every one of them,” Lt. Brandon McMillion said.
“I’m contacting prosecutors now to see if any laws have been broken,” McMillion added.
The law on animal neglect can be complicated, just like any law, McMillion said.
“The law looks at three things,” he said. “As long as an animal has food, water and shelter, then the animal is usually fine in the eyes of the law.”
Edwards said the police don’t care about the puppies and other critters living in the shop.
“I know that I’m going to keep calling and complaining until someone does something,” she said. “I might have to do something myself.”
The pet store was shut down Thursday, not because of the complaints, but because it does not have a valid business license.
“The business partner pulled their license because he found out about everything that was being said on social media,” Lt. McMillion said. “He didn’t want that reflected on his name, so he gave us a written statement requesting to pull the license.”
Police have the building’s owners on standby in case they do need to get in and help the animals, but for now, Kirshner gets to keep the animals because they are fed, watered and have a roof over them.
Kirshner could not be reached for comment on Friday.
— Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow on Twitter: @RHCodyNeff
SOURCE: http://www.register-herald.com/news/sophia-pet-center-closed-due-to-lack-of-business-license/article_8b45231d-dbbb-5752-b86c-2d73b5ffbe10.html More...
June 3, 2016
June 2, 2016
City Will Accept Downtown Liquor License Applications In June
K2 Radio; www.k2radio.com
By Tom Morton
The City of Casper will be accepting applications in June for a retail liquor license with several restrictions, according to a news release from the city manager’s office Tuesday.
It will be limited to the downtown area, it will be assigned to a location, and it will not be transferred from this location.
The City Council will make the final determination on which application will move forward.
Applications will be accepted from June 1, 2016, through June 30, 2016.
Completed applications with all required attachments will be accepted at the Customer Service Department located at 200 N. David St., Suite 105. Partial or incomplete applications will not be accepted.
The applications must contain this information:
- A clear and concise business plan.
- A site plan with public parking clearly identified.
The business plan should include, but is not limited to these criteria:
- How the license will contribute to economic development goals or purposes of the city.
- Whether the applicant will be investing in the construction of a new structure or will otherwise be materially and substantially updating a current building.
- The number of new jobs reasonably estimated to be created or, if an existing business, the number of new or additional jobs that will be reasonably created by use of the license.
Filing forms are available at the city’s website and at City Hall.
For more information, call the city at (307) 235-8400.
SOURCE: http://k2radio.com/city-will-accept-downtown-liquor-license-applications-in-june/ More...
May 26, 2016
Police catch massive Williamsburg club selling booze with no license
Brooklyn Paper; www.brooklynpaper.com
BY LAUREN GILL | Brooklyn Paper
A dry summer is in the forecast for this Williamsburg club.
Police caught massive pop-up nightclub the Brooklyn Mirage serving alcohol without a liquor license at its first event of the season on Saturday night, just six months after its organizer tried to hold a rave in a toxic Greenpoint factory — and authorities say the company’s latest irresponsible stunt could cost it the chance to ever serve booze again.
“Selling without a permit would absolutely have a negative impact on any future applications for permits or for liquor licenses,” said State Liquor Authority spokesman William Crowley.
The club’s creator City Fox infamously planned a Halloween bash inside the old NuHart Plastics building — a Superfund cleanup site with dangerous chemicals but no sprinkler system — last year, before firefighters pulled the plug at the last minute.
This time, cops let the event continue, but confiscated all the booze at the discotheque — a 6,000-person outdoor venue in an industrial lot at Stewart Avenue and Meserole Street where City Fox plans to hold events all summer — and issued the company with a summons for unlicensed sale of alcohol, according to a Police Department spokesman.
Crowley said the liquor authority hasn’t received any license applications for the site, though Greenpoint watering hole One Stop Beer Shop — which ran the bar at Brooklyn Mirage’s 2015 iteration on Scott Avenue and Randolph Street — unsuccessfully applied for “special-event” permits to serve at 10 of the club’s planned parties, including Saturday’s.
The authority rejected the application on May 13, writing in its response that a self-described “three-month pop-up club” is not what catering permits are for, and admitting that it shouldn’t have issued them for last year’s Mirage, either.
One Stop Beer Shop also successfully scored a special-event permit for the NuHart rave — a fact that local residents and pols were livid about when they finally learned of the party, as those licenses don’t require any community consultation.
Organizers did take the first step in applying for a liquor license earlier this month, appearing at a Community Board 1 meeting on May 11 and asking for its blessing.
But members — who have previously griped about last year’s Mirage for being loud and unruly — told them their application was too vague, and to come back for its liquor license committee’s meeting on May 24 with more details, according to a DNA Info report.
Police weren’t the only ones peeved by Saturday’s speakeasy — attendees, who paid $70 a ticket for entry, lambasted City Fox on social media for failing to let them know they’d have to boogie into the wee hours without booze.
“No indoor space, no alcohol, and no warning that this would be the case,” Celeste-OJ wrote on the event’s Facebook page. “It’s unacceptable when you pay $76.”
But others weren’t so put out — several claimed security staff turned a blind eye to them smuggling their own rotgut inside.
“They were pretty good about not checking anything at all,” wrote Matt Sanchez. “Walked in with a full bottle and a flask with no issues whatsoever.”
City Fox and One Stop Beer Shop did not return requests for comment by press time.
Reach reporter Lauren Gill at email@example.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
SOURCE: http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/39/22/dtg-brooklyn-mirage-alcohol-debacle-2016-05-27-bk.html More...
May 20, 2016
North Olmsted, OH
City council approves legislation regulating food trucks in North Olmsted
By Beth Mlady, Special to cleveland.com
NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio -- At its Tuesday meeting, city council members passed unanimously legislation that regulates mobile food vendors in North Olmsted.
The intent of the law, as stated previously by Law Director Michael Gareau Jr. during discussions in March, is not to be prohibitive in nature but to institute proactive measures to ensure regulatory consistency. Chapter 735, Food Trucks, of the city business regulation code has been created to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations.
Requirements for mobile food vendors wanting to do business in North Olmsted include having a duly licensed vehicle and trailer; a current, clearly displayed Mobile Food Vending License, as issued by the Cuyahoga County Board of Health; availability for inspection by the fire department while operating; adherence to local and state fire code regulations; and sales of food and/or non-alcoholic beverages only.
"Simply put, food trucks must be licensed by the state of Ohio and have a license issued by the county board of health," said Councilman Paul Schumann, chairman of the building, zoning and development committee, when the legislation received its second public reading before city council May 4. "Food trucks ... must keep the area near them clean. No loud speakers, no alcohol and no operation in the public right of way. Ice cream trucks are excluded from this legislation."
A city permit will be required, but there will not be a "significant" fee, he said. Additionally, the ordinance indicates food truck vendors may not operate on public property, including public parks, unless receiving written permission from the city's director of public service. Any food truck parked within 250 feet of a residence may not operate between 10 p.m. and 7:30 a.m.
Anyone who violates the ordinance would be guilty of a fourth degree misdemeanor.
SOURCE: http://www.cleveland.com/north-olmsted/index.ssf/2016/05/city_council_approves_legislat.html More...
May 19, 2016
Kane County, Illinois
Liquor license denied for new restaurant at former Al Capone's Hideaway
Chicago Tribune; www.chicagotribune.com
By Gloria Casas | Elgin Courier-News
County liquor commissioners denied a liquor license application filed by a businessman wanting to open a new restaurant at the former Al Capone's Hideaway and Steakhouse in unincorporated Kane County.
"I remember the old Hideaway. I miss it. This is not the Hideaway we remember," said liquor control Commissioner Mark Davoust of a restaurant, named Hideaway 64, proposed by Jeremy Casiello and his family. "It shares similarities in name only."
Davoust, who was appointed to the commission last week replacing Commissioner Myrna Molina, said he was concerned about public safety and health in voting "no." He also voted "no" last fall to a request for special zoning of the property, which was approved by the County Board. Commissioners Deborah Allan and Joe Haimann also voted "no" along with Chairman Chris Lauzen.
"I feel for them (the Casiello family) because they labored mightily to get this far," Davoust said. "I hate to say 'no' to small businesses and entrepreneurs. ... But this is the wrong place for it."
The Casiello family owns Alley 64 in St. Charles and the Dam Bar in Geneva. Phone calls seeking comment from the family were not returned Wednesday.
Jeremy Casiello — who worked to address neighbors' concerns during the zoning process — had told liquor commissioners that the family needed to secure a liquor license before investing further into the property, including replacing a septic sewer.
Liquor control commissioners brought the meeting to the neighborhood where Hideaway 64 is planned.
"We are here to listen to what your preferences are," Lauzen told the crowd that gathered for the meeting at Valley View Baptist Church on Route 25 in St. Charles. "We do make house calls."
Neighbors raised similar concerns Wednesday that were discussed during last fall's zoning meetings. Those issues included the area's winding roads, worries about drunk drivers, a lack of sidewalks, and noise. Lauzen said the commission was there to weigh whether or not to grant a liquor license and determine if there were any public safety or health issues.
Robert Roach has been a resident in the neighborhood since 1952. He said the roads in the neighborhood are narrow, and there are no sidewalks. He recalls having to pick up beer bottles before mowing his lawn when the old Capone's was open, he said. The litter has stopped since it closed down, he said. He also recalled the time a car ended up overturned in his front yard. He doesn't want to see that happen again, he said.
"I am totally against the liquor license," Roach said.
Alma Leonard said she doesn't let her children play in the front yard because she worries about drivers blowing through the stop sign near her home. She wonders what it will be like if people are driving after drinking at the restaurant. "I am afraid not only for my kids but other kids," she said.
"Some people are gonna like it and some aren't no matter what you are going to decide," Charles Bowling said. "If it's up to me, I am happier when it was closed than when it was open. But I'm just one person."
Commissioners also heard from people who wanted the county to give Hideaway 64 a liquor license.
Leo Murphy said he enjoyed the old Hideaway and never saw any alcohol-related problems with the restaurant. He said he felt the new owners have experience in the restaurant business and in handling liquor sales and hoped the commission granted the license.
"I feel very safe and comfortable with the reopening of the Hideaway," said T.J. Seiffert, who has lived in the neighborhood for 10 years and has a young child. "I respect everyone's opinions here, but I think many of them are extreme. This area needs a shot in the arm, not a shovel in the grave."
Later, he said the new restaurant would be a benefit to the neighborhood and a place where families could get a burger. "It's not like it would be a nightclub in downtown Chicago," he said.
Liquor Control Commission coordinator Barbara Garza said the commission's decision is final and cannot be appealed. However, businesses can reapply for the license at any time, she said.
Gloria Casas is a freelance reporter for The Courier-News.
SOURCE: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/elgin-courier-news/news/ct-ecn-st-charles-liquor-license-denied-hideaway-64-st-0520-20160519-story.html More...
May 18, 2016
Las Vegas, NV
Unlicensed auto shops get fined by investigators
KSNV News3LV; www.news3lv.com
BY CHRISTY WILCOX
LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) — The Department of Motor Vehicles cracked down on car dealers, auto body, and repair shops that were doing business unlicensed.
A group of DMV investigators was out in the Las Vegas valley to make surprise visits on Tuesday.
Investigators wrote 40 citations and shut down shops in the area that cost violators from $500 to $1500 depending on the violation.
Compliance officers said this helps to eliminate businesses that are taking advantage of customers.
"They'll take your money, do shoddy work, then pack up and leave," said DMV spokesperson, Kevin Malone.
Malone said they received complaints after some businesses leave customers in a bad situation.
The operation is called DMV "Impact Day" and officers hope to prevent people from ending up at a shop that can pack up and leave if they are unlicensed.
"With a licensed business you do have some recourse, they have to place a bond, and they have to have a fixed place of business," said Malone.
DMV compliance investigator, Lori Billingsley said in some cases, businesses fail to renew their license while others never attempt to obtain a license at all.
During Tuesday's enforcement operation, investigators found two new businesses, operating illegally, in a location where they were actually looking for another auto shop that had formal complaints from customers of the shop.
The shop investigators were looking for had left the location, opening up the building for two other businesses.
One of the new shop owners admits he had county and state licenses but wasn't aware he needed one through the DMV.
"Tomorrow I have to go to the DMV to get my license to start working again and pay the penalty," said one shop owner.
The DMV said getting incompliant businesses on a level playing field isn't always simple.
They found one business under the named "TKO Kustomz" who was given a cease and desist order in January. Tuesday's sting operation caught the owner off guard. Compliance issued two fines, one for operating without a license through DMV and another for not having any county or state license.
"Some people say thank you for the citation and others are not very happy, but they do realize ultimately they can either request a hearing or pay the citation," said Lori Billingsley.
SOURCE: http://news3lv.com/news/local/unlicensed-auto-shops-get-fined-by-investigators More...
May 17, 2016
City could restrict new liquor license to downtown area
Casper Star Tribute; www.trib.com
By Hunter Woodall | 307-266-0634, Hunter.Woodall@trib.com
There’s another liquor license available in Casper, and city officials are hoping it will help improve the downtown.
At a work session Tuesday afternoon, city staff members are set to recommend to Casper’s City Council that the retail liquor license have transfer and location restrictions to keep it near the city’s core. This would then help the city accomplish a goal “of fostering growth and prosperity” downtown, according to a city memo.
The city was given an additional retail liquor license after a 2015 revision of Casper’s population, according to city documents.
This wouldn’t be the first time that the city has restricted a license to help foster growth. In 2014, a license was restricted to 319 W. Midwest Ave., near the site of Art 321. The store using the license, Urban Bottle Wine and Spirits, is expected to help bring more visitors to the Old Yellowstone District. Along with Art 321, the store will be paired with Racca’s Pizzeria Napoletana, an acclaimed restaurant expected to open in Casper later this year. Racca’s was given a bar and grill license in September 2015, according to city documents.
Lynette Boatright, one of Urban Bottle’s owners, said she can understand how restricting a liquor license to a specific area can help push growth and clean up blighted or underused areas.
“To foster growth, they want to see restaurants, they want to see a reason for people to come down to that area,” she said. “I think what starts out a lot of growth is a restaurant, or a bar, or it’s going to bring other retail down there too.”
The string of shops also sits minutes from two developing projects: the civic auditorium at the old Iris movie theater and the David Street Station public plaza. City officials have said that the new attractions are major players in the downtown area’s future. Along with these projects, there’s also the new state office building that officials say will be built at the Goodstein lot, with a new parking lot nearby.
“They’re seeing this growth happen,” Boatright said. “They want to promote more for businesses to set up shop down there.”
Assistant city manager Tracey Belser said restricting Urban Bottle’s location helped bring energy to the Old Yellowstone District.
There are 37 retail liquor licenses in Casper, according to the city. Four of those licenses have been issued to someone but are not being used.
There will be an open application for the new license. The city is recommending that Casper accept applications for 30 days. After that deadline, the City Council will decide who wins the new license.
“I think the interest would be high,” Belser said. “Because it is something of interest, I think, for people who are looking for an opportunity. You know, and there’s not a lot of retail liquor licenses available.”
Follow local government reporter Hunter Woodall on Twitter @huntermw.
SOURCE: http://trib.com/news/local/casper/city-could-restrict-new-liquor-license-to-downtown-area/article_84cb4d9f-f3c1-5bf8-b42e-474db029fd4d.html More...
May 13, 2016
Beaufort will charge some nonprofit organizations business fees
The Beaufort Gazette; www.islandpacket.com
BY STEPHEN FASTENAU | firstname.lastname@example.org
Beaufort will charge fees to nonprofit organizations with operations competing with other businesses, keeping tabs on them through required registration.
City leaders say the new rules are an issue of fairness. Churches renting apartments or operating day cares open to the public and private medical practices now associated with Beaufort Memorial Hospital are among tax-exempt organizations in the crosshairs.
Beaufort Memorial has more than $45 million in private contracts, Mayor Billy Keyserling said Tuesday. The hospital wouldn’t necessarily be charged the new business license fee, he said, but the individual contractors could be.
“It’s protection for businesses to make sure they’re not getting subsidized competition, I think is the way to put it,” Mayor Billy Keyserling said Tuesday.
The new rules passed unanimously in a City Council vote Tuesday. In another change approved Tuesday, all businesses, including nonprofits, will be required to register with the city.
The new license fee will be in effect next January, city manager Bill Prokop said. Until then, the city will try to reach out to affected businesses and explain the new rules.
The registration doesn’t mean all nonprofits will be charged a business license fee, Keyserling said. The registration will allow the city to hold nonprofit organizations to the same operating standards as regular businesses, he said.
It will also give the city a list of nonprofits to inspect for income subject to the new fee.
Business license fees for nonprofit groups will only apply to the money made from operations competing with for-profit businesses.
A church day care facility open only to church members, for example, would not be charged. A nonprofit organization renting houses, apartments or commercial property to the public would be charged.
The city’s rules are the same the Internal Revenue Service uses on nonprofit businesses reporting “unrelated income,” city finance director Kathy Todd said.
Beaufort leaders met with executives from Beaufort Memorial Hospital in preparing to implement the new rules, where they learned about the millions in private contracts. Private practices have been brought under the hospital’s wing, with some paying taxes and some not, Keyserling said.
“It’s a huge nonprofit organization that has been acquiring medical practices and real estate,” he said.
On Tuesday, City Council also:
▪ Voted to allow city manager Bill Prokop to negotiate a contract to buy Sea Eagle Market on Boundary Street. The facility would be demolished as part of a plan to create a passive park along Battery Creek.
▪ Annexed 46 Robert Smalls Parkway into the city and zoned the property highway commercial. Warehouse owner Richard Martin plans to operate a business on the Spanish Moss Trail.
▪ Heard budget presentations from the city’s police, fire, courts and planning departments. The city has until the end of June to pass its next budget.
Stephen Fastenau: 843-706-8182, @IPBG_Stephen
SOURCE: http://www.islandpacket.com/news/local/community/beaufort-news/article76699347.html More...
May 11, 2016
Liquor license debate revs up in City Council
Wyoming Tribune Eagle; www.wyomingnews.com
By James Chilton | Wyoming Tribune Eagle
CHEYENNE – The age-old debate of whether Cheyenne should grant liquor licenses to retail “big box” stores entered its newest chapter on Monday evening before the City Council.
The Cheyenne Sam’s Club at 1948 Dell Range Blvd. has recently negotiated the purchase of a retail liquor license from Tom Kingham of Cloud 9 Liquorland, which is located just a few hundred feet away. It will fall to the City Council to approve the actual transfer of the license, and Monday the council held a public meeting to take input on the idea.
And, as has been the case with previous proposed transfers to large supermarkets, several local liquor store representatives turned out to voice their opposition to the deal.
If the transfer were to go through, Sam’s Club is proposing building an 1,800-square foot “liquor box” within the existing store. As described, the liquor box would be its own separate section of the store, and any alcohol purchases could only be made there.
Sam’s Club officials made their case for why the transfer made sense: they did not foresee any disruption to surrounding residents, given that Cloud 9 is already operating in essentially the same location. Further, they said that, as one of the foremost retailers in the country, Sam’s Club has well-established guidelines for screening the age of anyone who attempts to purchase alcohol.
Store manager Cody Nelson added that the transfer would provide a direct benefit to store customers, as the top question they ask him is why they can’t currently buy beer, wine or spirits at the club.
“We’re looking for convenience, where customers grab a few groceries and make their way into the liquor box,” Nelson said. “We’re not trying to go after a lot of different (brands). We’d be going after the top (selling) items in beer, wine and liquor.”
Nelson added that, with most dedicated liquor stores taking up 2,500 to 20,000 square feet, the Sam’s Club liquor box would be among the smallest in the city. Caleb Perkins, the Sam’s Club manager in Casper, also spoke, describing how the Casper store’s liquor license has not negatively impacted any of the dedicated liquor stores in his city.
“We’re there for the convenience, one-stop shopping,” Perkins said. “We don’t have that giant selection you’re going to see elsewhere.”
Deborah Herron, a regional governmental affairs representative for Sam’s Club, said she believed a liquor license would allow the Cheyenne store to generate additional sales tax revenue for the city from regular customers and club members passing through the area.
“We know how much it means to the city to have additional revenues and a responsible retailer in the market,” Herron said. “This gives us the opportunity to coexist with existing liquor store owners.”
Kingham also made his own case for the liquor license transfer, noting that in the five years he has owned Cloud 9 Liquorland, he’s catered to countless customers coming from the nearby Sam’s Club who might just as easily have bought their liquor there, if only they could.
“Somebody will come into Cloud 9, they’d just been at Sam’s or (the adjacent) Wal-Mart, and say ‘I can’t believe the only place to get liquor in Wyoming is at a liquor store,’” Kingham said. “And I’ve had to tell them, ‘If you go to Laramie, Rock Springs, Rawlins, Evanston, you can get it in a big box store, you just can’t get it here.’”
But other established liquor store owners were not so sympathetic to Sam’s Club’s cause. They argued that approving the transfer of a liquor license to a corporate entity like Sam’s Club would be tantamount to opening “Pandora’s box,” given that the number of municipal liquor licenses is limited by state law.
“It opens the door to convenience stores, grocery stores ... and once those (retail liquor licenses) are gone, we’re never getting them back,” said Kevin Georges of DT’s Liquor. “What we need to think about is the economic development of our city, what is going to bring future businesses, families into our communities. Having a liquor license in a big box store isn’t going to bring that in.”
Rather, Georges said the limited number of liquor licenses should instead go to independent retailers, restaurants, breweries and bars.
Georges was also critical of the claim that a Sam’s Club liquor license would generate significant new sales tax revenues. Rather, Georges said those revenues would instead come from stores like his.
“They wouldn’t create more (revenue), they would just move it from one entity to another entity,” he said.
John O’Grady of the Peppermill Bar also spoke in opposition to the transfer. Before coming to Cheyenne, O’Grady said he had lived in Rawlins, where he said big box stores had managed to drive several liquor stores out of business by undercutting prices, despite assurances from Perkins that Sam’s Club pricing would be “very similar to other retailers in the market.”
“You can’t compete with a box store,” O’Grady said. “We (local liquor store owners) live in this community, we support the community, we donate to the community. This is where our taxes stay. But we cannot compete with a big box store.”
With the public meeting concluded, the liquor license transfer will now go before the City Council Finance Committee, where members will take further public testimony on Monday.
SOURCE: http://www.wyomingnews.com/news/liquor-license-debate-revs-up-in-city-council/article_24543dba-1678-11e6-82c4-37d6668ba77b.html More...
May 9, 2016
Pittsfield city councilors, others object to tobacco sales cap regulations
The Berkshire Eagle; www.berkshireeagle.com
By Jim Therrien | email@example.com | @BE_therrien on Twitter
PITTSFIELD — Two city councilors and a Cumberland Farms representative strongly objected Wednesday to the Board of Health's cap on new tobacco sales licenses in Pittsfield during a hearing on further regulatory changes the board is considering.
The discussion sets up an expected debate at the council's meeting Tuesday, when the health board will attend to discuss the license cap and other tobacco regulations.
"I am very concerned about the cap on permits," said Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell, who also objected to the regulation during prior meetings concerning a request for a new convenience store permit, which was denied.
He questioned why the board has set a long-term cap goal of 25 sales permits, which would mean a slow reduction of the current 51, while the city of North Adams is considering a cap of 23 permits with a much smaller city population.
The "lofty" cap goal would only be reached, board members have said, when businesses close and licenses are surrendered with being transferred — that has yet to occur since the cap was enacted.
Connell asked whether there are statistics showing a decline in smoking in Pittsfield after the board several years ago banned tobacco sales in pharmacies, which he said would provide more of a rationale for a further permit reduction. The councilor said he hopes health officials can provide those figures when the board meets with the council.
The board has cited a higher than average number of sales outlets in Pittsfield, along with high adult and youth smoking rates in the county for the cap, which was put into effect in 2014. Board member Jay Green also noted at Wednesday's hearing that the permit total has not, in fact, declined since then, and the regulations allow for a new owner to obtain a license for a store than has been operating.
In fact, Green said, the revisions now being considered by the board include language changes designed to clarify exactly how a new business owner can receive such a transferred license. He said the board has shown flexibility in dealing with businesses seeking permit transfers — actually a surrender of the license and issuance of a new one by the Health Department.
Connell and Councilor at large Melissa Mazzeo, who also attended the prior board meeting, argued that if addressing youth smoking was a prime goal of health officials, raising the legal age to purchase from 18 to 21 — which is in the new regulation proposal — would affect that more than a permit cap.
Both councilors said they support raising the legal age to 21.
The proposed changes, which the board tabled for further consideration at their next monthly meeting, also include a ban on most flavored tobacco products. The board is expected to further define those products in a draft set of changes, which has been posted on the city website.
"I really think it is important that we have a lot more dialogue before you put this in place," Mazzeo said, saying she believes a discussion during the council session will be more widely noticed than the health board hearings that have led to regulatory changes over the past two years.
She said she favors "a moratorium on regulations," until there is more widespread agreement on the changes.
"I think the word 'reasonable' is where we need to have a conversation," Mazzeo said, adding that the city is facing a tough budget season and is anxious to increase economic activity in Pittsfield.
Connell termed the effective ban on any more sales licenses "a barrier to growth for one industry [convenience stores]," which he urged the board to lift.
Also speaking during the hearing was Chad LaCasse, manager at the Cumberland Farms store on First Street, which is in the process of being replaced by the chain with a new, larger store.
LaCasse said Cumberland Farms would consider opening one or two more stores in Pittsfield, but not without a tobacco sales permit, which he said remains necessary to a convenience store's survival.
The chain has emphasized other products over the years and attempted to move away from tobacco sales, he said, "but in the interim, we need tobacco," which LaCasse noted was a legal product.
Without a license, "it would be impossible to develop another store in Pittsfield," he said.
Board Chairwoman Roberta "Bobbi" Orsi said at the conclusion of the hearing, "I think the board has had this conversation for hours and hours and hours," and "done lots of due diligence" on the issue of restricting access to tobacco products.
"If we need to see more tobacco to generate economic activity, then I think we have more problems as a community," Orsi said.
She said she will be attending the council session Tuesday.
Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.
SOURCE: http://www.berkshireeagle.com/local/ci_29851783/pittsfield-city-councilors-others-object-tobacco-sales-cap More...
May 3, 2016
Doughnut Hole's quest for liquor license mired in headaches
Lincoln Journal Star; www.journalstar.com
By RILEY JOHNSON / Lincoln Journal Star
The opportunity to sell beer and booze to those huddled up in the Railyard on Husker gamedays has led to a liquor licensing mess inside the Public Market.
The Doughnut Hole's owner has asked the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission for the right to expand its offerings to help offset high rent for the space.
"You're paying for (a space) which doughnuts alone don't justify," said Omaha attorney Mike Kelley, who represents owner Ryan Funke, after a special hearing Monday.
But there's a problem: Public Market tenant Breezy Island Ice already has a liquor license, and under state regulations, only one business may license an indoor area.
The Doughnut Hole's future there now rests in part on whether it gets permission to use the space for something city officials hadn't intended when the area first opened in September 2013.
"When we invested heavily into the development of the Public Market, it was for it to be small business startups like what you see on the streets of a public market," said Assistant City Attorney Tonya Peters.
"Vegetables, craft goods, whatever being sold so that we had something there other than alcohol."
Breezy Island, which sells shaved ice drinks, asked the state for a liquor license to sell alcoholic drinks as well and was ready to "rock and roll" as the Public Market prepared to open, Peters said.
City officials then thought they would only have one liquor license holder in that space, who would sell from their counter into shared indoor space, she said.
Other bars and restaurants located in the West Haymarket building hold liquor licenses and sell drinks through windows that open into the Railyard.
But Breezy Island Ice used informal agreements to sell beer out of the windows of Public Market tenants Maize Popcorn and The Doughnut Hole to customers in the Railyard, Peters and Funke said at the hearing.
"It was not the intention, I believe, of the commission or the city (to say) it was OK to sell out those windows, and until this came before my desk I had no knowledge this was going on," Peters said.
Funke, who is part owner of Railyard bar and restaurant Gate 25, bought The Doughnut Hole on May 1, 2015.
He said he agreed to continue those informal agreements initially but later decided his business couldn't afford to continue as it was and would seek its own liquor license.
The city initially denied that request, prompting a hearing before the state commission.
After negotiating with the city, they worked out options where they would allow the pastry shop to sell alcohol into the Railyard but not over its front counter in the Public Market.
That plan required the addition of partitions inside the space to prevent violations.
But the Public Market's landlord, TDP Phase 1 LLC, on Monday said it opposes any modifications to the space.
Ultimately, Funke must decide by May 3 whether The Doughnut Hole intends to renew its lease, which expires in September. The Public Market has already lost The Normandy, one of its original tenants.
Liquor Control Commission Executive Director Hobert Rupe said he would recommend the commissioners grant the restricted license to The Doughnut Hole.
The commission will vote on the license request and whether to specifically define Breezy Island's license next month.
To Rupe, this case was the first legal hiccup arising the creation of entertainment districts in Nebraska.
"You've got to remember this was the first entertainment district," Rupe said at the hearing. "We're seeing what we did right and wrong."
Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.
SOURCE: http://journalstar.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/doughnut-hole-s-quest-for-liquor-license-mired-in-headaches/article_90118ec8-5376-568d-813d-cf644148b0fd.html More...
April 28, 2016
San Francisco, CA
Business Licenses For Some SF Uber And Lyft Drivers Cost Hundreds More Than Expected
By Eve Batey
Many of the 37,000 or so San Francisco Uber and Lyft drivers who learned last week that they were required to have a business license to ply their trade in the city have another shock in store when they go to comply with the regulations, as they're also getting hit with hundreds of dollars in penalties and fees.
As reported last week, SF Uber and Lyft drivers got a letter from the city last week telling them that since they're all independent contractors, drivers who work more than seven days a year are legally required to have a San Francisco business license.
As Caleb reported last week, the licenses "cost $91 each, annually, and if every driver were to register — an outcome that is highly unlikely, as enforcement may prove difficult and the number of drivers who currently operate could differ from that 37,000 estimate — the city would generate $3.37 million a year."
It might be time to up that figure, however, as drivers who are heading out to get their licenses are now being told that they're also on the hook for an additional $155 in fees and penalties for every year they worked without the license, CBS 5 reports.
According to driver Michael Sicard, who spoke with CBS 5, “Uber and Lyft said that this is a new rule,” and that he'd "even emailed inquiries asking if there are any other permits or licenses that I’ll need and they said no.”
Lyft maintains to CBS 5 that the rule is new, saying that “We do not believe the city had made a decision about how to treat ride-sharing drivers for business license purposes until very recently.”
But the rule isn't new, City Treasurer Jose Cisneros emphasized last week, saying that “This has been a law that has been around for many years. It’s very clearly spelled out on our website — the law here in San Francisco requires you to register your business with the city."
"If they missed that requirement, they are still obligated to do that.”
CBS 5 reports that when Sicard "contacted [sic] there Treasurer’s office, he was told the only new thing was is that Uber and Lyft finally handed over a list of all their drivers to city officials." "Handed over" might be a bit vague, however, as according to a press release from the Treasurer's Office, it took "two years of enforcement work, including multiple requests for information and subpoenas to get sufficient data about business operations from TNC’s domiciled in San Francisco."
According to the Chron, "Lyft said it had complied with the Treasurer’s request for tax data on all its drivers in 2014 and 2015, as it was legally obligated to do," and while Uber declined to comment, in an email to drivers they said that "We are also unsure as to how the treasurer's office obtained addresses for Uber drivers and we are looking into how that could have happened."
But however it happened, the genie is out of the bottle now, as even Uber is now saying (via prepared statement) that “As independent contractors, drivers are responsible to follow appropriate local laws.” And that includes Sicard, who needs to pony up more than $500 by May 15 to remain in compliance...or not.
"I don’t have that money and, without the business license, won’t be able to drive to make ends meet,” Sicard tells CBS 5. “So my car will get repossessed and I’ll go into bankruptcy."
SOURCE: http://sfist.com/2016/04/27/business_licenses_for_some_sf_uber_1.php More...
April 19, 2016
Lynchburg City Council approves changes to business licenses
The News & Advance; www.newsadvance.com
By Sherese A. Gore
After nearly 20 years with no changes, Lynchburg’s business license tax structure underwent modifications this week.
Restructuring the business license tax was an item brought forward for discussion during Tuesday’s Lynchburg City Council work session by Councilman Jeff Helgeson.
Under the current structure, the amount of a business’s gross receipts determines whether the business will be charged no fee; a flat fee; or a specified rate per $100 of gross receipts.
Currently, businesses whose gross receipts equal $10,000 or less are issued a no-fee business license. In separate unanimous decisions with Councilwoman Treney Tweedy absent, City Council voted businesses whose gross receipts are $10,000 or less would no longer be issued a business license.
During the work session, city Commissioner of the Revenue Mitch Nuckles said labor costs would be reduced by eliminating the no-fee licenses.
City Council also approved a change to the tax structure so businesses with gross receipts between $100,001 and $150,000 will be assessed a flat fee of $160.
Under the current structure, businesses with gross receipts from $100,001 to $150,000 are assessed specified rates per $100 of gross receipts based on the type of business.
Currently, exceeding or generating $100,000 or less in gross receipts determines whether a business is charged a flat fee or is assessed a rate per $100 of gross receipts — a threshold which at various points during council discussion was referred to as a “cliff.”
Under the current structure, a business in the professional category with gross receipts of $50,001 to $100,000 would be charged a flat fee of $50 while the same business with gross receipts of $100,001 to $150,001 would be assessed 58 cents per $100 in gross receipts, or a minimum tax of $580.
A motion to approve a flat tax of $240 for businesses whose gross receipts range from $150,001 to $200,000 failed on a tie vote with council members Jeff Helgeson, Turner Perrow and Randy Nelson voting in favor.
The changes to the tax structure will take effect Jan. 1. The new flat tax of $160 will mean an estimated loss of revenue of $40,363, based upon revenue from fiscal year 2015.
SOURCE: http://www.newsadvance.com/news/local/lynchburg-city-council-approves-changes-to-business-licenses/article_7e3b21e2-31e9-54c3-b3aa-4677b75a4884.html More...
April 18, 2016
San Francisco, CA
Uber, Lyft Drivers Need Business Licenses to Operate in San Francisco
The Wall Street Journal; www.wsj.com
By GEORGIA WELLS and DOUGLAS MACMILLAN
In the regulation battle between cities and on-demand ride services like Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc., San Francisco just played a big trump card: bureaucracy.
Drivers for Uber and Lyft need business licenses to operate in their hometown, according to a letter the city’s Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector started mailing to drivers Friday. The city has identified 37,000 drivers, and it has given them 30 days to obtain their licenses. For businesses that earn less than $100,000, the license costs $91 a year.
“I take seriously my obligation to fairly implement San Francisco’s business regulation requirements,” San Francisco Treasurer Jose Cisneros said in a statement. The letter wasn’t prompted by a new law, but by the time it took to identify the drivers, according a spokeswoman for the department.
The requirement highlights the legal complexity of Uber’s and Lyft’s business models, which rely on independent contractors, rather than employees, to shuttle passengers. Those contractors must comply with local laws which may differ in many of the hundreds of cities around the world where they operate.
“Uber partners with entrepreneurial drivers and as independent contractors, they are responsible for following appropriate local requirements,” a spokeswoman for Uber said in an email. The company is still exploring how the licenses for San Francisco will work.
Uber, valued at more than $60 billion by investors, faces an array of legal challenges. A class-action lawsuit claiming the company improperly classifies its drivers as independent contractors is set to go to trial in California in June. The requirement that these drivers get licenses to operate as a business may bolster Uber’s argument that the drivers aren’t employees.
San Francisco isn’t the first city to require Uber and Lyft drivers to get a business license. In San Jose, Calif., at the southern end of Silicon Valley, Uber and Lyft drivers are only allowed to pick up passengers at the city’s airport if they have a city business license. However, San Francisco is one of the biggest markets for the two on-demand ride companies.
The city said it has spent about two years laying the groundwork for requiring the business licenses. A spokeswoman declined to comment on where it got the data on the identities of the 37,000 drivers. The city currently has 105,000 registered businesses in total.
The spokeswoman said that registering for the business license won’t mean any additional taxes for the drivers.
San Francisco’s requirement that drivers display their business registration certificates bothers Lyft.
“We have serious concerns with the City’s plan to collect and display Lyft drivers’ personal information in a publicly available database,” a spokeswoman for Lyft said in an email. “People in San Francisco, who are choosing to drive with Lyft to help make ends meet, shouldn’t have to compromise their privacy in order to share a ride.”
Write to Georgia Wells at Georgia.Wells@wsj.com and Douglas MacMillan at email@example.com
SOURCE: http://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-drivers-need-business-licenses-to-operate-in-san-francisco-1460762952 More...
April 13, 2016
Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
Georgetown’s Liquor License Ban Lifted
The Hoya; www.thehoya.com
By Charlotte Allen | HOYA STAFF WRITER
The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board recently lifted Georgetown’s 27-year-old restaurant liquor license moratorium, allowing establishments in the District to begin applying for licenses April 11.
The decision will not affect the limit of liquor licenses for nightclubs and taverns, which remains at six, because of a separate Washington, D.C. law that cannot be amended or rescinded by the ABC Board.
The moratorium was implemented in 1989 in response to noise and vandalism complaints from Georgetown residents regarding patrons of establishments that were permitted to sell alcohol.
The moratorium capped the number of restaurants that could attain a class C/R license, which permits the sale of beer, wine or spirits on premises. The only way for a new business to obtain a license was to purchase one from another restaurant, at prices that could run upward of $10,000.
Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration Public Information Officer Jessie Cornelius said the ABC Board took into account public opinion and current neighborhood conditions in its decision to lift the moratorium.
“A hearing was held by the Board to receive public comment on Feb. 24 and written comment was accepted on the issue through March 4,” Cornelius wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Input received from Georgetown community and business groups supported lifting the cap on restaurant licenses because the issues of noise, trash and vandalism — which were the original catalysts for the moratorium — had improved.”
The recent change in regulation is largely due to support given by the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E, which represents Georgetown, to lifting the moratorium.
Advisory Neighborhood Commissions are advisory boards that provide official citizen representation to governmental bodies. There are 47 commissions in the District run by volunteer commissioners who are popularly elected and serve two-year terms. The Georgetown commission specifically reviews all development in the historic district as well as all liquor licenses.
Vice Chair of ANC 2E Ed Solomon expressed support for the end of the moratorium, stating that it reflects a balance between restaurants and stores in the neighborhood.
“The time was right. The moratorium was enacted at a time when the community felt that there had to be some type of control on what was happening 25 or so years ago,” Solomon said. “Now we have a good mix of retail and restaurants here and we would like to see new restaurants come in that the community would support as well as the rest of the city.”
Bill Starrels, another ANC 2E vice chair, said the decision reflects a significant change in the past 27 years — drinking ages are now uniform at 21 years old in the wider District area, which was not the case before the moratorium was enacted.
“To have a beer back then across the Key Bridge you had to be 21 years old, but you could come across the bridge into Georgetown and only be 18 years old to have a beer,” Starrels said. “If you look at the history in terms of where things were with the drinking age and the also demographics you’ll see why it made sense for the moratorium to be set years ago and today it is not that needed.”
Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington legal counsel Andrew Kline said the time had come for the ban to be lifted.
“There was generally support for the lifting of the moratorium this time around. There was a realization by the Advisory Neighborhood Commission and from those in the community that it was serving no purpose,” Kline said. “I don’t think it will change much. There were many licenses not being used that were still available.”
Tom Birch, a third ANC 2E vice chair said the end of the moratorium will not necessarily result in an immediate influx of new restaurants and bars to the neighborhood.
“I expect that we are not going to see an immediate change overnight because all of this takes time,” Birch said. “They can get a liquor license just by applying for it, but they are going to have to find a place to locate and get the capital together and have a business plan and so forth.”
Birch said he hoped that the end of the moratorium will bring positive change to the neighborhood.
“I do think that it is going to create more of a community of really high-quality restaurants,” Birch said. “It’s great that the whole community is so interested in what has been happening, and what’s so important is that the business community and the residential community were in absolute agreement on this issue and came together to work out a solution.”
Solomon emphasized the benefits of lifting the moratorium on Georgetown’s restaurant scene and business community.
“We look forward to the opportunity we are giving to many of the new chefs and entrepreneurs to come to Georgetown,” Solomon said. “It’s going to be a win-win for the residents, the tourists and the businesses, and I think that it will give especially the local community an opportunity to see new restaurants come into our community.”
Restaurateur Ian Hilton, owner of the French bistro Chez Billy Sud on 31st Street, said the end of the ban will attract new businesses to Georgetown, benefitting the neighborhood as a whole.
“The lifting of the moratorium will likely draw more restaurants into the neighborhood. I think everyone knew it would pass. I think it’s a good thing,” Hilton said. “Restaurant operators will look at Georgetown who might not have done so in the past.”
SOURCE: http://www.thehoya.com/georgetowns-liquor-license-ban-lifted/ More...
April 11, 2016
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Governor Walker signs Titletown liquor license bill
Liquor licenses will be much easier to come by for the Packers Titletown development.
Governor Scott Walker was at Lambeau Field Tuesday to sign Assembly Bill 612 into law.
Last year the Packers unveiled their plans for the $130 million development project, located in Ashwaubenon. The villagehas exhausted its liquor licenses creating an obstacle for future sports bars and businesses looking to open their doors in the Titletown District.
The Titletown District bill remedies this license shortage by creating the Regional Transfer Option (RTO), whereby a municipality can sell up to three of its unused licenses to a neighboring municipality. The bill also creates the Premier Economic Development District (PEDD) option, which allows development projects with an assessed value of $20 million or more to purchase two Premier “Class B” licenses.
“We’re happy to be here at Lambeau Field, the home of the Green Bay Packers today to sign this legislation into law,” Governor Walker said. “Assembly Bill 612 helps the Village of Ashwaubenon issue additional licenses for the Titletown District being constructed by the Green Bay Packers, ultimately bolstering local economic development without increasing the liquor licenses available in the region.”
AB 612 was passed by the legislature earlier this year.
SOURCE: http://www.wearegreenbay.com/news/local-news/governor-walker-signs-titletown-liquor-license-bill More...
April 8, 2016
Inspectors say lanyards make it easier to spot business licenses on Washington Road
WRDW News 12; www.wrdw.com
By Alma McCarty
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- It's no surprise that every year people are trying to make money when thousands of people flood into Augusta for the Masters. This week, countless vendors under white tents line Washington Road are hoping to make a deal.
For the tents, temporary licenses are necessary. And now, inspectors have an easier way to make sure everyone has them.
The sights of Washington Road during Masters Week go as follows - traffic, pedestrians, and tents for miles.
"We can't count. There's a lot of them," joked inspector Rebecca Greer.
Even if you're selling water bottles, chances are you need license to set up shop. If only for this one week a year.
"We may catch a few that don't but usually, everybody gets it ahead of time and knows what to expect when we come out here," said Greer.
Out of town vendor Joe Phillips made sure he followed checklist.
"No badge, no sale," he said, "I'm just really glad to come and be a part of it to be honest with you."
Right beside his stand of sunglasses, a local business sets up in what they call a perfect location. Matt Perez with Marcella's Fine Cigars says Masters Week is easily one of the busiest times of the year.
"Everytime [patrons] come in, they see the cigars and say, oh hey we'll have a cigar afterwords," he said.
The cigar shop renews a permanent license for their permanent location each year, but they know the drill to sell here.
"We had to get an additional one because it's in a different location," explained Perez.
Both vendors don a lanyard from Augusta's Planning and Development department, easy for inspectors like Greer to spot.
"So far they've been doing real well," said Greer.
The inspectors deal mostly with the vendors selling things, but as for those sitting with signs to buy and sell badges, officials say they need a state and county approved broker's license.
SOURCE: http://www.wrdw.com/home/headlines/Inspectors-say-lanyards-make-it-easier-to-spot-business-licenses-on-Washington-Road-374546421.html More...
April 6, 2016
Accelerate Illinois’ Modernization: Your Business License, Now Digitized
Government Technology; www.govtech.com
BY HARDIK BHATT, CIO, ILLINOIS
Digital licenses ware made available to over 1 million licensees, who can now view and print a license wherever and whenever needed, including displaying it on a mobile device.
Editor's note: This 30-day blog focused on Illinois' IT modernization was originally published on LinkedIn, and is republished here with permission.
It is time to celebrate a success.
Previously we have talked about innovation coming out of agencies that then need to be scaled enterprise-wide to make quick, high-value, customer-centric transformation. Today, I would like to share an example of that.
Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations (IDFPR) regulates over 250 different professions and 1.2 million illinois licenses. IDFRP Secretary Bryan Schneider was tapped by Gov. Bruce Rauner last year to lead the department's team of 450. Bryan has a long and distinguished career in the private sector, most recently as the Divisional Vice President – Health Law for Walgreens, Inc. Under Secretary Schneider's leadership IDFPR achieved a major customer-centric milestone last week.
Schneider announced a paperless initiative for IDFPR.
Paperless licensing and renewals were implemented for the professions licensed and regulated by the Divisions of Real Estate and Professional Regulation. The transition away from paper-based renewals and licenses means that regulated professionals will now be able to renew their license quickly and easily online, and be provided proof of licensure through email and IDFPR’s License Lookup application. The move to paperless technology is part of the IDFPR's ongoing efforts to modernize the state’s regulatory agency and will save the state nearly $3 million in postage, paper and printing costs over the next five years.
Last week, IDFPR took one more step toward automation. Digital licenses ware made available to over 1 million IDFPR licensees. A Licensee can view and print a license wherever/whenever needed, including display it on a mobile device.
One key thing to note is that 100 percent credit for this automation goes to IDFPR: to Schneider, CIO Sunil Thomas, Chief of Staff Brandon Purcell and the IDFPR leadership team. This was envisioned and executed 100 percent by the agency. We will now look to scale it enterprise–wide. As we continue the technology-infused transformation at the state, we are looking to expedite these type of innovations in one agency and copy/paste them throughout the enterprise.
Let's congratulate IDFPR for successful progress towards automation and an Illinois Business licensee for having it slightly easier to do business in the state of Illinois.
SOURCE: http://www.govtech.com/state/Accelerate-Illinois-Modernization-Your-Business-License-Now-Digitized.html More...
April 1, 2016
Noblesville aims to expand liquor licenses
By Olivia Lewis, firstname.lastname@example.org
NOBLESVILLE — Sunrise Cafe at Uptown in Noblesville is a family-friendly breakfast restaurant. That is what it has been for years, and the newest owner plans to maintain that reputation, though he says he has heard skepticism.
A bright orange sticker had been on his restaurant window for a few weeks. The sticker was to notify city residents that the restaurant was eligible for a liquor license. The small breakfast cafe has never offered alcoholic beverages. But an alcohol permit process through the city's new Riverfront Redevelopment District could give Sunrise the ability to sell Bloody Marys and screwdrivers by summer.
On Tuesday, owner Jonathon Smith joined several other Noblesville restaurateurs who have been approved for a new alcohol permit.
“It’s not going to be like Broad Ripple downtown,” Smith said. “But at least it gives people more options to go out and enjoy food and drink and quality.”
Last year, Noblesville created the Riverfront Redevelopment District, spanning the White River, to revitalize downtown and to build upon nearby economic development projects such as the city’s $6 million Federal Hill Commons, where an amphitheater, market space and open area for events are planned. The hope was that the project would encourage businesses and consumers to come downtown.
With such hope came 20 new liquor licenses (10 three-way for beer, wine and liquor and 10 two-way for beer and wine) under a provision of state law within the district. The liquor licenses were provided by the city as an incentive for businesses that remained or wanted to build in the area. Within months, numerous restaurants applied for the three-way licenses, encouraging the city’s assistant director of economic development to approach the City Council to allocate more.
Seven existing and two new downtown businesses have been approved by the city for a three-way license. Those nine businesses submitted applications with the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission and have been approved or are awaiting approval. Four other existing and two new businesses have approached the city with interest in the last remaining three-way licenses but have not applied.
No businesses have sought one of the 10 two-way licenses.
Alaina Shonkwiler, assistant director of economic development in Noblesville, said in the past the city neglected the river and saw it as a divider to indicate areas of the city. By using the river as a central location, the city hopes to capitalize on downtown expansion.
“The goal was really to catalyze more unique opportunities for our citizens,” Shonkwiler said. “Take advantage of entertainment, restaurants, a cultural scene for our city and specific to the downtown core.”
So far the city says the plan and its additional alcohol licenses are working.
“We were thinking this was an attraction tool, and at this rate it’s become more of a retention and expansion,” Shonkwiler said.
Although the district can have an unlimited number of licenses, Shonkwiler said she will request only five more three-way licenses in April.
Existing business owners said buying the district license just made sense. Some restaurants, such as Sunrise Cafe, didn’t have a license at all, while others, including Courtney’s Kitchen, upgraded from a two-way to a three-way license. The city sold the licenses for $1,000 each, much less than what restaurant owners outside such a redevelopment district would typically pay on the open market.
The General Assembly earlier this week sent to the governor a bill that would afford Boone and Hamilton counties 24 additional three-way licenses, but at a cost of $40,000 per license. The state typically limits the number of available alcohol permits in an area based on population.
Smith said the low price of $1,000 left little risk for Sunrise Cafe. When he heard other restaurants in the district were buying the license, he decided to do the same.
“If someone new is coming to town, then they have to wait their turn,” Smith said. “We all want to support each other, but there’s a little bit of competition in there, as well.”
Smith plans to sell Bloody Marys, screwdrivers and fruit-infused alcoholic drinks by summer. He has registered for a mixology class to better understand how to make alcoholic beverages. He plans to keep his business open past 2 p.m. for happy hour.
State regulators have allotted Noblesville 32 typical licenses, but the city has not had any three-way licenses available in more than two years.
Carrie Courtney knows because she was calling every month trying to find one.
“I was kind of trying to stay on top of it,” the owner of Courtney’s Kitchen said. “So when the opportunity came open, I jumped on it.”
Courtney’s Kitchen previously had a two-way license that was up for renewal in November, she said. A three-way license wasn’t a necessity, she said, but it gave her business a competitive edge on the chain restaurants surrounding the Riverfront Redevelopment District.
Courtney said her business has blossomed since she upgraded her license.
“The biggest thing were margaritas on the patio for those warm sunny days and Bloody Marys with breakfast,” Courtney said. “We were getting requests for those.”
SOURCE: http://www.indystar.com/story/money/2016/03/09/noblesville-aims-expand-liquor-licenses/80619598/ More...
March 31, 2016
Bill granting Easthampton 8 new liquor licenses moving through state legislature
Mass Live; www.masslive.com
By Mary Serreze | Special to The Republican
A bill that would grant Easthampton eight new "over-quota" liquor licenses has been reported out of committee on Beacon Hill and will soon head to the full Massachusetts Senate for a vote, said Sen. Don Humason (R-Westfield), who in November introduced the special legislation on behalf of the city.
The committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure reported the bill with a favorable recommendation on Feb. 29, Humason said.
"Senate Counsel is now doing third reading edits," said Humason in an email. "The whole Senate could vote on it within the next few weeks. Then it would go to the House for their approval."
The bill's language gives "highest preference to establishments located in the mill industrial zone and the downtown business zone in the city of Easthampton." It's not clear what criteria or process the city's Licensing Board will use to implement that provision.
Once the bill is approved by the Senate and the House, the licenses will be available for the Licensing Board to award as it sees fit. Under state law, all local licensing decisions need approval by the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.
In Massachusetts, liquor licenses in any community are limited according to a population-based formula. Easthampton is already over-quota in its liquor licenses, meaning that any additional permits can only be issued through special legislation.
The Easthampton City Council in November, after two evenings of debate, voted to petition the Legislature for eight new full-pour liquor licenses. The licenses will be for establishments where drinks are consumed on-premise, and will not have to be tied to establishments that serve food. Existing or potential restaurant or bar owners will have to apply to the local Licensing Board in order to be considered for the licenses.
The initiative was supported by Mayor Karen Cadieux, who said in November that new licenses would be important for the city's economic development.
Once an over-quota license is issued, the Licensing Board will not be able to transfer it to another location, but may grant a license to a new applicant at the same location. In all, city businesses hold 41 liquor licenses distributed among restaurants, bars, package stores, clubs and more.
Twenty-three of those licenses are "all-pour" permits, five are for beer and wine only, three are "farmer-brewer" malt licenses, and the rest are for stores. In addition, Shelburne Falls Coffee on Union holds a seasonal beer and wine license.
Mary Serreze can be reached at email@example.com
SOURCE: http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/03/bill_granting_easthampton_8_ne.html More...
March 28, 2016
Johns Creek, GA
Business License Renewals Due March 31 In Johns Creek
By Kristal Dixon (Patch Staff)
JOHNS CREEK, GA -- Businesses in Johns Creek have until March 31 to renew their business tax certificates by submitting a business tax return with full payment of all fees and taxes.
Business owners can come to City Hall at 12000 Findley Road Suite 400 to file tax certificates, more commonly known as business licenses, but the city also will mail renewal applications in early January.
Failure to receive a renewal application does not relieve a business of responsibility to pay its business tax by the deadline. Late payments are subject to a 10 percent penalty and interest of 1.5 percent a month. Business licenses will be considered on time if they are postmarked by March 31.
SOURCE: http://patch.com/georgia/johnscreek/business-license-renewals-due-march-31-johns-creek More...
March 25, 2016
Glenview to consider liquor licenses for salons
Chicago Tribune: www.chicagotribune.com
By Phil Rockrohr | Pioneer Press
Glenview trustees directed village staff on March 15 to create a new liquor license for salons, after two new businesses asked to serve alcohol to customers.
After a lengthy debate, the majority of trustees supported charging $2,000 for each such license, requiring food be served with the alcohol, and placing no limit on the number of drinks served to each customer.
Sarah Kuechler, assistant to the village manager, said Glenview staff will prepare an ordinance for consideration at the Village Board's April 5 meeting.
Glenview officials sought the board's input after Ten Friends Blow Dry & Style House, which opened at 2671 Navy Blvd. earlier this month, and Anthony Vince' Nail Spa, which is scheduled to open at 2620 Navy Blvd. next month, asked to serve alcohol by the glass, Kuechler said.
Anthony Vince' already serves alcohol at four other locations, and Ten Friends serves alcohol at its Hinsdale and Deer Park locations, she said.
After researching the issue, Glenview staff discovered 11 other communities offer such licenses to salons, including Deerfield, Glencoe, Lincolnshire, Mount Prospect and Vernon Hills, Kuechler said.
Trustee Paul Detlefs suggested the board drop the cost of the proposed license to $1,000 each, given that seven of those 11 communities charge $1,000 or less for theirs.
"I don't have any problem with this at all," Detlefs said. "I'm concerned about the fee. I think it's awfully high."
Trustee John Hinkamp disagreed.
"I'm fine with the price," Hinkamp said. "If anything, I would go higher. They're in this to make a profit. Nobody is forcing them to get a liquor license, if they don't find it profitable."
Trustee Deborah Karton questioned whether serving food is necessary, but Trustee Scott Britton said making food available helps prevent customers from getting very drunk.
"We insist they serve food so we hope that they don't get completely bombed," Britton said. "If we allow bars that don't have food, we're going to be opening a can of worms. I think we leave that as is."
Karton also challenged the need to limit the number of drinks to two or three, as done in other communities.
"The only concern I have is with somebody getting overly served on their day of beauty," she said. "I'm not sure we want to cap the number of drinks."
However, Karton also expressed concern about how many employees in a given salon would be certified to serve alcohol and recognize when to stop serving a customer.
Ten Friends, which offers 10 wines for sale by the glass, allows only specialized employees certified in Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training to serve alcohol, owner Cathleen Stoelting told the board.
"We completely separate the duties between licensed cosmetologists, who provide the services in the salon, and our hospitality staff," Stoelting said. "They're all BASSET-certified and are the only ones allowed to touch alcohol."
Stoelting called it "very rare" that a Ten Friends customer consumes more than one drink in a visit.
Trustee Philip O'C. White said limiting the number of drinks is not necessary because they cost so much in salons.
"It's a very expensive place to drink," White said. "I don't see this as becoming a problem or becoming a place people go not necessarily for beauty or relaxing purposes but to drink, because it's too expensive."
Kuechler said barber shops will be covered by the ordinance as well.
Hinkamp questioned whether tanning salons or massage parlors would be included.
"It's kind of broad on health and beauty services," he said.
"That is a very good question, one that we've discussed," Village Attorney Eric Pratt said. "We will certainly provide the board a sort of laundry list of services."
Phil Rockrohr is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.
Copyright © 2016, Chicago Tribune
SOURCE: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/glenview/news/ct-gla-liquor-license-tl-0324-20160324-story.html More...
March 24, 2016
Asotin County, WA
March 23, 2016
Aiken hospitality tax will cut cost of business licenses
News 12 WRDW-TV; www.wrdw.com
By Logan Nester
Aiken S.C. (WRDW) -- Aiken’s hospitality tax went into effect June 1, 2015. A month ago, a vote to repeal the tax failed. In the meantime, $700,000 from the tax is being used by the city for economic re-investment. A new position in the city is funded by the tax. John McMichael started as Aiken’s first Business Vitality Manager in January. McMichael says, "The time to make changes and look to improve is not when you're down and out, it's when you're up and moving."
McMichael acts as the point person for everything business in the city. "We kind of act like matchmakers, really. We put people together that would be mutually beneficial to their businesses."
Cindy Rudisill, Owner of Cyndi’s Sweet Shoppe, is excited about working with McMichael. Rudisill thinks it’s a good time to own a business in downtown Aiken. "You can come in here and spend 50 cents or come in and spend a little bit more," Rudisill says.
The hospitality tax is also expected to put money back in the pockets of business owners. The city’s website says $160,000 from the tax will be given back to business owners by cutting the cost of their business licenses.
Mayor Rick Osbon says some business owners could save a lot, because the cost of a business license is based on how much a business sells, not how much it makes. "If you're a business that has a markup of 100-150%, that percentage of the business license might not have as big of an effect, but if you're a production business and make only 12-16%, taxing on the gross is a real concern," Osbon says.
The city hasn’t decided exactly how that money will be handed out. When the hospitality tax was pitched, the business license price cut was aimed at new businesses, but Osbon thinks it makes sense to give existing businesses a break too.
"When it was passed, no one knew exactly what the revenue would be, so I think it had to be in place at least a year," Osbon says. That year is fast approaching, and now it’s time for council to hand out the cash. Osbon thinks council will take up the subject in the next couple meetings.
SOURCE: http://www.wrdw.com/home/headlines/Aiken-hospitality-tax-will-cut-cost-of-business-licenses-372508202.html More...
March 22, 2016
Tuscaloosa police arrest men for selling magazines without business license
WVTM 13; www.wvtm13.com
By Chip Scarborough
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. —Tuscaloosa police have arrested three men they said were illegally selling magazines in local neighborhoods.
The Academy Drive subdivision is just one neighborhood that Tuscaloosa police said the three men were going door-to-door, peddling magazine subscriptions without a business license. Officers arrested Frederick Berry, John Clarke, and Gordon Dixon.
Bob and Geri Stone said they will be paying closer attention to who comes and goes in their neighborhood. The couple said they are worried this could lead to more crime in their neighborhood.
"What they may say to others," Bob Stone said. "Who knows what kind of communication network may develop from that."
Authorities said the suspects were given a warning on Monday, but kept soliciting anyway.
"There are certain rules they have to go by," Captain Brad Mason said. "They were made aware of these. They didn't comply with the rules and so that's why they were arrested the second day they were soliciting."
Investigators said the men work for a company called Globe Wide Entertainment, based in Michigan. The Better Business Bureau said the company's sales representatives travel to different parts of the country, selling magazine subscriptions, but customers often never receive them. When customers try to contact the company, they find themselves out of luck.
Tuscaloosa police said there is one easy way to know if a door-to-door salesperson is legit. They are required to present a special identification, issued by the Police Department.
"Each individual solicitor has to come into the Police Department," Mason explained. "Fingerprints, photographs are taken and a background is done."
Investigators said they are now in the process of contacting people in the area who may have purchased a magazine subscription from the suspects.
SOURCE: http://www.wvtm13.com/news/Tuscaloosa-police-arrest-men-for-selling-magazines-without-business-license/38552478 More...
March 18, 2016
Benicia officials announce smoother business license process
Times-Herald News; http://www.timesheraldonline.com/
By Times-Herald staff report
Benicia >> Things should be easier going forward for those doing business or hoping to do business in the city of Benicia, city officials announced.
“The city of Benicia is pleased to announce some changes to the business licensing process that is designed to streamline the procedure for businesses operating within the city limits,” officials said in an announcement. “The city has contracted with the HdL Companies to provide assistance to the business community for their business licensing needs.”
The HdL Business Support Center will provide support for all aspects of licensing, including application, payment snf certificate issuance, officials said. The Business Support Center offers extended telephone support hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays) via a toll free telephone number: (888) 602-0239 or via email at Support@HdLgov.com.
During the upcoming business license renewal period, the center will also offer a variety of online support options allowing for filing and paying a business license online as well as obtaining copies of forms and other relevant information, officials said.
To file, renew, or pay a balance online, visit the city’s website at www.ci.benicia.ca.us and click on the link for business licenses.
SOURCE: http://www.timesheraldonline.com/article/NH/20160315/NEWS/160319927 More...
March 17, 2016
New city software to help with bills, permits, business licenses
Enterprise Ledger; www.EpriseNow.com
By Jennifer Calhoun
City of Enterprise officials plan to roll out new software that should make it easier for residents to pay utility bills and apply for business licenses and permits.
City employees will be trained on the upgraded software from Tyler Technology beginning in April and May, and the software could go live to the public by the end of the year or the beginning of 2017, said Jason Wright, the city’s communications director.
Wright made the comments during an update to Enterprise City Council members during a council work session on Wednesday.
Accessing and applying for building permits and inspections are expected to be among the first items to go live, Wright said. The new features will allow residents and contractors to apply online for permits or to set up inspections.
With the current system, online application is not available.
The new software will also allow residents paying their utility bills to see more detailed analysis of their water consumption, as well as trends in water usage and costs for garbage, sewer and any late fees, Wright said.
Automatic payments will also be available with the new software system. Receipts for all transactions will be sent by email and stored in the city’s system.
Those interested in applying for business licenses are expected to be able to use online services, as well. That software is still being worked out, however, because of the various number and types of licenses. But it is still expected to be rolled out by the end of the year or the first of next year, Wright said.
Enterprise Mayor Kenneth Boswell pointed out that city services will still be available in-person.
“(Residents will) just have the option (to perform these tasks) online,” he said.
Wright said the city had looked into updating the city software system in 2014, but found out that the city servers and equipment, which were near- or at-capacity, couldn’t handle the update.
As a result, city officials in 2015 spent about $175,000 on servers and equipment upgrades that are expected to carry the system for about 10 years, Wright said.
Follow Jennifer Calhoun on Twitter @JenLCalhoun.
SOURCE: http://www.dothaneagle.com/enterprise_ledger/news/new-city-software-to-help-with-bills-permits-business-licenses/article_b9a016d8-e6fc-11e5-9786-1ffd689f66fe.html More...
March 15, 2016
Washoe County, NV
Washoe Business License Applications Moving Online
KUNR (Reno Public Radio); www.kunr.org
By Rocio Hernandez
Business owners will be able to apply and pay for business licenses and permits in Washoe County online, for the first time ever this summer. Our reporter Rocio Hernandez has more.
The regional business license and permits program is an effort by the cities of Reno and Sparks along with Washoe County and the health district that will connect them digitally to customers. Amber Drlik with the City of Reno says this change has been repeatedly asked for in customer surveys.
"This will make it so anyone can apply for a license or a permit 24 hours a day, pay online. They won't have to come into the office; they won't have to mail things in."
The four agencies will also share data between themselves, making it easier for people to submit applications or renewals for business licenses and permits in multiple jurisdictions.
Drlik says customers can expect to pay a small annual technology fee after the program goes live in August.
SOURCE: http://kunr.org/post/washoe-business-license-applications-moving-online#stream/0 More...
March 14, 2016
Falls Church, VA
F.C. Business License Renewals Now Past Due
Falls Church News-Press; www.fcnp.com
By Sally Cole
A message for all Falls Church City business owners: If you have not renewed your business license for 2016, as of March 1, you are operating your business in violation of State and City Code. Licenses renewed after March 1 incur a 10 percent or $10 (whichever is greater) late payment penalty. After March 31, interest penalty will begin to accrue. Avoid extra interest fees, renew now.
If you need any help calculating late payment penalties, call 703-248-5450.
SOURCE: https://fcnp.com/2016/03/09/f-c-business-license-renewals-now-past-due/ More...
March 10, 2016
Holden Council receives revised business license ordinance
The Daily Star Star-Journal; www.dailystarjournal.com
Holden – City Council members will review the revised draft of the city's business license ordinances before taking action on the document presented Tuesday night.
A committee composed of Councilmen Jim Nipko, Jim Gilcrest and Sam Raber, appointed in September, worked on the revisions for several months following a protest by Chamber members in August over a proposal to collect fees from vendors at the Holden Fair.
Nipko, committee chair, said the committee had reviewed ordinances from four other cities “to see how they're handling business licenses.”
He said some sections that were not enforceable or not needed were eliminated.
The ordinance has been reduced from six or seven pages to four pages, he said.
“It's what we think will serve the city best,” Nipko said, adding, “It was a bigger job than we thought it was going to be.”
The revised ordinance states that transient vendors operating during the Chamber-sponsored Holden Fair and rodeos are exempt from obtaining a business license and that the council will establish fees and license requirements for council-approved events, such as the tractor pull.
The fee for peddlers and transient vendors operating in the city at other times is listed as $10 per day.
Raber suggested the council take a month to review and comment on the proposed revisions before taking action on the ordinance.
Mayor Rick Edwards said the ordinance also will be reviewed by the city attorney prior to adoption.
SOURCE: http://www.dailystarjournal.com/news/local/article_28b4c21f-9a20-5339-a290-19fcf351297a.html More...
March 9, 2016
Prescott business license proposal moves to next step
The Daily Courier; www.dcourier.com
By Cindy Barks
PRESCOTT – Details continued to be refined this week in the City of Prescott’s latest push toward implementation of a business license.
Although a final decision has yet to be made on whether to impose an annual license fee on businesses in the city, the Prescott City Council moved a step closer at its Tuesday, March 1 workshop discussion.
Up for discussion this week were questions on the specifics. For instance: Who would be exempt from the license? What information would be required on the application? And how much would the license cost?
Prescott Budget and Finance Director Mark Woodfill pointed out that the license is being proposed to apply to most businesses conducting business in the city, including those physically located outside of city limits that engage in business in the city.
Suggested exceptions include: schools, churches, governments, political organizations, and homeowners associations.
That generated discussion about whether churches should be exempt. City Attorney Jon Paladini pointed out that most communities with business-license programs exempt churches, but require licenses for related church businesses, such as gift shops.
Likewise, thrift stores associated with churches or charitable organizations would also be required to have a license under the proposal.
The city also is proposing exempting “casual activities,” such as yard sales, sales of personal vehicles, part-time seasonal business activities by those under the age of 18, as well as sales of agricultural produce by residents.
Under the proposal, the city would charge $35 annually for the license, and would allow a one-year grace period for implementation.
A business would be required to provide information such as its name and physical location, contact information, start date and sales tax number, type of business, and the owners.
While a vote on implementation of a business license is not expected until May 3, a number of council members have now voiced support for the license.
Councilwoman Billie Orr, who was absent from the council’s earlier discussion, added her support this week.
In fact, Orr maintained that having a business license in place previously would have helped the city prevent its current situation with a proliferation of group recovery homes.
“I believe if we had a business license years ago, there are issues facing our city now that we wouldn’t have,” Orr said. Afterward, she added, “One of the biggest issues with sober living and group homes is that we didn’t know how many there were.”
Orr, who took office this past November, said that when she and other citizens asked about the numbers, the city was unable to respond with good numbers. “We really don’t have the data,” she said. “This is our responsibility.”
Councilman Greg Lazzell has been a vocal opponent of the business license, and he reiterated his concerns this week, questioning how the city would enforce the license.
“If you’re not getting a TPT (Transaction Privilege Tax) license, you’re not going to get this one,” Lazzell said, referring to the compliance by businesses required to charge sales tax.
Councilwoman Jean Wilcox – while allowing that “we’re not going to get everyone” – maintained that “it’s time for us to catch up.”
The city has considered implementing a license off and on for several decades, but never moved forward with the program.
A number of steps are still needed before the license would be implemented. Along with the workshops on Feb. 2 and March 1, another discussion is scheduled for April 5, when a draft ordinance will be introduced. Then, on May 3, the council is scheduled to consider adoption of the ordinance.
If approved, the license would become effective on June 2, and implementation would take place until Nov. 30. The registration would begin on Dec. 1.
Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-642-0951.
SOURCE: http://dcourier.com/news/2016/mar/04/prescott-business-license-proposal-moves-next-step/ More...
March 8, 2016
Huntsville council approves business license for Uber
By Lucy Berry | firstname.lastname@example.org
It's a waiting game for Huntsville residents after the city council approved a resolution granting a business license to Uber affiliate Raiser on Thursday.
City of Huntsville spokeswoman Kelly Schrimsher said Friday afternoon there is no word yet from the Clerk Treasurer's office about whether the ride-sharing company has picked up a business license or paid the $2,000 flat fee, but an announcement is expected soon.
Earlier this month, the council approved two ordinances to allow companies like Uber and Lyft to operate within the city limits. The first ordinance requires businesses to fill out some paperwork and seek council approval for a license, while the second creates a fee structure for the licenses.
"This takes our transportation system into the 21st Century," Mayor Tommy Battle has said, adding, "It's something our citizens have asked for."
Uber is currently available in Birmingham and Montgomery.
SOURCE: http://www.al.com/business/index.ssf/2016/02/huntsville_council_approves_bu.html More...
March 4, 2016
Changes to business licenses in Beaufort could make planning events easier
By Georgiaree Godfrey
BEAUFORT, SC (WTOC) - Changes to business license permits in Beaufort can make preparing for an event a little easier.
The city announced Thursday that individual food truck vendors or other small businesses will not need a business license to sell items at events and festivals. The clause being referred to as a group event license.
It’s supposed to help make it easier for organizers to plan their events and vendors. The new policy applies to all events open to the public within Beaufort city limits.
"The way it was before each food truck had to come and get their license and the organizer had to have a license etc. So we put an event program in now so the event organizer gets one license and says imp going to have 6, 8 or however many they pay for that and then it's over with,” said Beaufort City Manager Bill Prokop.
The city says organizers can also save money with the clause as well, because the license fees only apply to vendors or business that do not already have a license.
So if a food truck is going to be at an event and already has its own license, the organizer would not have to pay to cover them.
Copyright 2016 WTOC. All rights reserved.
SOURCE: http://www.wtoc.com/story/31379974/changes-to-business-licenses-in-beaufort-could-make-planning-events-easier More...
March 3, 2016
Dewey Beach, DE
Uber, Lyft drivers need business license in Dewey
By Chris Flood
DEWEY BEACH — Uber, Lyft and other internet-based ride-sharing drivers take note: Dewey Beach expects the purchase of a $109 business license.
Transportation network companies are the same as any taxi service, and they should be treated as such, said Commissioner Dale Cooke during a Feb. 13 commissioners' meeting, when Dewey Beach commissioners voted unanimously to modify the town’s business license to require these companies to purchase business licenses to conduct business within town limits.
Using the state’s definition, Dewey has defined a these companies as those that use a mobile application or website to connect riders with drivers. It continues by saying these drivers use their personal, noncommercial vehicles with the intention of making a profit.
“If it quacks like a duck,” said Mayor Diane Hanson, implying the app-based companies are similar to taxi and limousine services.
The discussion during the meeting was brief, but the vote was the culmination of a months-long discussion amongst the town, ride-sharing drivers and local taxi companies.
Harris Marx is the local Uber driver who spurred that discussion after he said he was harassed by the town’s police officers for dropping off and picking up clients without a business license.
From the very beginning, Marx has said app-based drivers shouldn’t be required to buy a business license.
In a Feb. 15 email, Marx said he was shocked to hear Dewey’s decision to charge the full $109. This fee is unjustified, and a small percentage of the earnings for a taxi or limousine service, he said.
“For a TNC driver it would be a very high percentage,” he said. “For example, I just did my taxes, and if I had to pay the $109 fee, it would have been 50 percent of my net earnings that I did in Dewey Beach last year. I find that ridiculous and offensive.”
Marx said town commissioners have now affected the safety of people who drink in Dewey during the summer. He predicted the issue will continue to be a public-relations nightmare, because fewer cars will be available for rides home.
“In addition, Uber drivers could protest by creating traffic jams in the town during the summer, which is easy in Dewey because of Route 1 being the only way to get in and out,” he wrote.
David Hastings, president and owner of Jolly Trolley, stood fast on his position.
“Fair is fair,” he said. “It’s awesome technology, but that fact should not preclude them conforming to rules for basic safety and community unity.”
Prior to the vote, Commissioner Mike Dunmyer suggested the town work with app-based companies to see if they would pay the town’s licensing fee to cover all drivers using the technology. This is the evolution of how people are using transportation, and it’s going to be a growing issue, he said.
“This was a chance for the town to be a leader on the issue,” he said after the meeting.
SOURCE: http://capegazette.villagesoup.com/p/uber-lyft-drivers-need-business-license-in-dewey/1483199 More...
March 2, 2016
Business License Reform Being Considered at State House
By Chris Trainor
A new bill filed in the state Legislature would streamline the way cities and counties tax businesses in South Carolina. However, it appears the state’s Municipal Association plans to put its support behind a different upcoming business license measure.
Business license reform in South Carolina isn’t necessarily a new idea, at the state or local level.
For instance, during the heat of last year’s City of Columbia municipal election cycle, then-at-large City Councilman Cameron Runyan pushed hard for the city to institute a plan that would have, during the course of a five-year period, knocked city business license fees down to a flat rate of $100 per business.
Of course, Runyan ended up losing his seat last November, and any momentum for his business license plan seemed to go out the door with him.
Meanwhile, at the state level, Republican Rep. Rick Quinn introduced a bill last year that would institute a flat $100 business license fee across the state. However, Quinn’s bill, introduced in February 2015, has languished in committee.
Now, another business license bill has emerged at the State House, one that seeks to bring a sense of uniformity to a business licensing process that can vary wildly from city to city and county to county in the Palmetto State.
State Rep. Todd Atwater, a Lexington Republican, has filed bill H.4967, the Business License Reform Act. The bill was introduced Feb. 23 and sent to the House Ways and Means Committee. The measure has a number of co-sponsors, most of whom are Republicans, but Richland Democrat James Smith also is a co-sponsor.
Atwater’s bill would, among other things, require local governments to hold a public hearing before adopting any business license fee ordinance, require that the Department of Revenue collect the fee instead of local governments and require that fees be due on Feb. 1 of each year.
The bill also would require local governments to use specific forms, dates, penalties, etc. for business license fees, in an effort to address the hodgepodge of such regulations that currently exists across the state’s municipalities and counties.
Essentially, local governments would still receive business license fees, but the Department of Revenue would collect the fees from the businesses, then remit the funding to the appropriate counties or cities. The proposed law says that the Department of Revenue “may retain up to 1 percent of the tax to defray the administrative costs of the department, but in no circumstance may the department retain more than its actual administrative costs.”
Atwater says, with business license reform seemingly always simmering on the Legislature’s backburner, he is hoping some basic reforms to the way fees are collected statewide can get the ball rolling.
“Some of the other [business license] legislation just hasn’t moved,” Atwater says. “All we are trying to do with this is simplify the process. We are trying to get something moving, so the businesses wouldn’t have to file in multiple jurisdictions and all that kind of stuff. This allows for central collection, it allows for one form and one place of filing. … We are trying to make it easier on the businesses. I’m not even trying to get into whether business license fees are good or bad, in and of themselves.”
Ben Homeyer, South Carolina state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, called the bill “a huge deal for our members.”
“Right now, we have a patchwork of local laws that really complicates things for people who do business in different jurisdictions,” Homeyer said, in a statement. “If you have a store in Columbia and another in Charleston, who have to have two separate business licenses and pay two separate fees to two different local governments on two different days.”
On Feb. 29, Miriam Hair, executive director of the Municipal Association of South Carolina, said her organization would not be backing Atwater’s bill. She says MASC has “worked for a year” with the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and Quinn to agree on a bill, currently being drafted, that would “help business, as well as be supportive of cities in their business license programs.”
Hair says the bill will be different from Quinn’s business license bill of a year ago. She says it would, among other things, establish the last day of April as a standard due date for business license fees and establish a uniform definition of “gross income,” on which business license taxes are based statewide. She also said the Municipal Association would build an online portal, through which businesses could pay their business license fees on the web.
“We are trying to bring structure to the business license tax,” Hair says.
SOURCE: http://www.free-times.com/news/business-license-reform-being-considered-at-state-house-030216 More...
March 1, 2016
Wichita considers massage industry regulations
KNSS Radio; www.knssradio.com
WICHITA - The City of Wichita is considering a new massage ordinance that would require businesses and therapists to apply for a license and permit, respectively.
"Hopefully this gives us an avenue to be able to reduce victimization but at the same time provide better opportunity for enforcement and be proactive," said Deputy Chief Hassan Ramzah.
In 2014, Wichita Police conducted 14 investigation into massage parlors and arrested 11 people on human trafficking and other violations. In 2015, there were 24 investigations that resulted in 22 arrests.
"We have seen an increase in businesses and these types of criminals coming into our community and starting these human trafficking sex for hire type of businesses," said Capt. Kevin Mears.
Currently, there is no state or city law that requires massage therapists to have a license or provide proof of training.
"Our goal is to not cause any issues or problems for legitimate businesses. It is just to give us tools to go against the human trafficking or the illegal businesses in the industry," said Mears.
For more than two years, a committee that included Wichita police, fire, law, finance, pubic works, Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department, and massage industry representatives provided input and feedback on the proposed ordinance.
The ordinance would require a $200 business license or $75 therapist permit. Each would be good for two years. The ordinance will be placed on first reading in March.
February 29, 2016
Regulators to start accepting applications for pot business licenses Wednesday
JUNEAU - A regulatory board in Alaska will begin accepting applications Wednesday for marijuana business licenses. It's the next step in setting up the state's legal pot industry.
To apply for a license, prospective business operators need to have secured a site. That has proven to be a challenge in some parts of the state because of things like location restrictions or local community bans.
Leif Abel, who is with the Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Legislation, says there's a lot of risk for would-be business owners. But he and others say they're passionate about the industry and want to be a part of it.
While the state's Marijuana Control Board will start accepting business applications on Wednesday, it will still be months before pot can legally be purchased by those 21 and older.
SOURCE: http://www.ktuu.com/news/news/regulators-to-start-accepting-applications-for-pot-business-licenses-wednesday/38152268 More...
February 25, 2016
Kenbridge changes business license fee — again
The Kenbridge Victoria Dispath; www.kenbridgevictoriadispatch.com
By Jamie C. Ruff
The Kenbridge Town Council has revised its revision to its business license fee.
At its Feb. 16, meeting, the council removed the $30 processing fee it imposed in January.
Instead, the council decided that if a business’s gross receipt tax comes in below $30, it will have to pay a $30 minimum.
If it is above $30, the business will just pay whatever their gross receipt tax is, depending on the type of business it is.
The business license fee is based on gross receipts and the type of business.
“We messed up, but we’re trying to make it right,” Mayor Emory M. Hodges explained. “It’s not the administrative personnel; it’s council.”
In mid-January, Kenbridge Town Council revised its business license fee — exempting the first $30 of revenue from the fee calculation but adding a $30 processing fee.
Changing the town’s business license fee is something the council started discussing late last year.
From the beginning of the situation, council members said they weren’t trying to raise revenues, but simply to keep the town’s expense of the paperwork from being more costly than the charge.
“My impression was we were trying to weed out the $1, $5, $8” fees, councilman Daniel Thompson said.
“We got sideways on how to word it. I don’t think our intent was to raise everybody’s business license by $30,” Hodges said.
SOURCE: http://www.kenbridgevictoriadispatch.com/2016/02/25/kenbridge-changes-business-license-fee-again/ More...
February 23, 2016
Mount Pleasant, SC
Town reaffirms ‘open for business,’ expands incentives program
Moultrie News; www.moultrienews.com
By Amy Livingston | Business Development Officer
Mount Pleasant Mayor Linda Page and Town Council reaffirmed the Town’s commitment to the growing business community through a unanimous vote to expand the Town’s Economic Development Incentive Program. Future recipients of the grant program will now be eligible for a reimbursement of their business license taxes for up to five years; an increase from two years.
“The economic vitality of our business community is central to increasing our local standard of living, while preserving and enhancing the quality of life for residents, many of whom are business owners,” said Mayor Linda Page.
The Economic Development Incentive Program, launched in 2011, was designed to encourage selective business investment to create a sustainable, diverse economy, a key component of the Town’s Economic Development Strategy. Eligible businesses include companies that can locate anywhere, are minimally dependent on the local economy, and create high-paying jobs.
Businesses are now able to apply for a reimbursement of business license taxes attributable to the location or expansion of the company for up to five years. In years one and two, the business is eligible for up to one-hundred percent reimbursement. In subsequent years three, four and five, the reimbursement declines to up to seventy-five, fifty and twenty-five percent, respectively.
“We’re committed to doing everything we can to promote high-wage job creation that allows our citizens to truly realize the work, live, play Mount Pleasant lifestyle,” said Town Council Economic Development Chair, Councilman Mark Smith.
Other incentives within the program include grants to reimburse the applicable business for: municipal impact fees, building permit fees, and plan review fees. Incentive applications are evaluated by Council based on the stated criteria and are subject to budgeted funds. More information is available on the website comeonovermp.com.
About the Town of Mount Pleasant, Office of Business Development
The mission of the Town of Mount Pleasant Office of Business Development is to advance the Town’s quality of life by fostering an economic environment that is vibrant, favorable to job creation, and promotes the general prosperity of the community.
For more information on the Town of Mount Pleasant, visit us online at www.tompsc.com, view our videos on the Media Channel, subscribe to our news with Notify Me, like us on Facebook, follow us @MtPleasantBiz and download our Apps “Experience Mount Pleasant” and “ConnectMP.”
SOURCE: http://www.moultrienews.com/article/20160222/MN01/160229907/-1/feed&source=RSS More...
February 18, 2016
Alton , IL
Tow company asks city to reconsider business permit denial
The Telegraph; www.thetelegraph.com
By Linda N. Weller - email@example.com
ALTON — A business owner, his wife, neighbor and attorney once again tried convincing city officials Wednesday to reconsider their denial of a zoning change to allow a towing dispatch center in a residential district.
Aldermen, though, did not respond to the comments and questions from attorney Bill Miller; John Swengrosh, owner of Alton Area Towing and Repair; his wife Patricia and neighbor Rebecca Hartman at the City Council meeting.
According to Alton’s ordinance, the issue now should be idle at the city level for a year-and-a-half: “A party shall not initiate the same action for a special use affecting the same land more often than once every 18 months.”
The council instead voted 6-0 on Wednesday to ratify their unanimous, Jan. 27 vote — which was after suspending the rules — against implementing a text change to the Zoning Ordinance to allow one towing dispatch center in an R-2 (single-family residential) district as a special use, with a permit.
Alderwoman Alice Martin, 4th Ward, was absent Wednesday.
That vote last month was in ordinance form. It was a reversal of their Jan. 13, 5-3 vote in resolution form supporting the amendment, including a “yes” vote by Mayor Brant Walker to meet the super majority requirement.
Before voting down the ordinance Jan. 27, aldermen said they had gotten “more information” and consequently switched their opinion. The Alton Plan Commission had issued a negative recommendation Jan. 5, but no alderman had attended the meeting where Wiley and Swengrosh explained their situation and plans.
The rejected text amendment would have allowed the city to issue a special use permit for 826-834 E. Seventh St., for the towing company to operate its dispatch center. Charles Wiley Jr. owns the property, but Swengrosh has been leasing it and previously said he has spent thousands of dollars in renovations. He also said he planned to buy the property.
Miller questioned why there were businesses in that building for 86 years, with none needing a special use permit, until now.
“Everyone, from Day 1, has realized this is a business property,” he said. “We have a situation here where Mr. Wiley is being treated differently. He had a business permit before, he comes back and something changes overnight. The city has allowed businesses for 86 years and changes the game. You can’t pull the rug out from under him.”
Swengrosh said he has operated out of the Seventh Street building for six months. He has no business license for the address, though, because he needed to get the special use permit first.
Thursday, Swengrosh paid for a 2016 business license to operate at his previous location, 2906 E. Broadway, which he rents from Wiley, according to the City Treasurer’s Office. A Telegraph reporter had filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act regarding status of the business license. The office also confirmed neither Swengrosh nor Wiley is in arrears in paying city bills, which would prevent them from obtaining business licenses.
“I have been there six months, and there have not been any complaints, and I’m not parking the trucks on the street at night,” he said of the Seventh Street location. “If they’ve (complaints) have been brought to you, they haven’t been brought to me so they can be rectified. I just want to do business. I ask you to reconsider.”
Swengrosh stores towed vehicles at a lot he owns at 2809 E. Broadway. His company formerly was located at 1519 W. Delmar Ave., in Godfrey.
Patricia Swengrosh asked why the city issued a building permit for work at the property to meet code in August — such as lighted exit signs — when officials would have known her husband planned to move his business to the address.
“They made us do all that work and now won’t give us a business license,” she said. She also asked what “new information” aldermen obtained to change their minds on amending the zoning code that would have allowed the dispatch center.
No alderman answered, although Corporation Counselor Jim Schrempf suggested she contact the individuals privately. There was some question among aldermen last month about Swengrosh doing repairs at the shop, at the corner of Seventh and Spring streets; parking the large tow trucks; and noise from the trucks despite the application only designated the property use as a “dispatch center.”
Hartman said she lives two houses from the property, and the business has been quiet, unlike the previous cab companies that occupied the building. “This business does not bother me, they have helped our neighborhood,” she said. “They drive their trucks at night but I can’t hear them.”
City records show the last time the city treasurer’s office issued a business permit at the address was in 2012 for a cab company, and the building was occupied consistently by businesses before that despite a change in zoning that allowed commercial uses to be “grandfathered in.” After nine months of having no business license, the “grandfather” exemption as a legal, nonconforming use at the property expires, Schrempf said.
Reach Linda N. Weller at 618-208-6450 or on Twitter @Linda_Weller
SOURCE: http://thetelegraph.com/news/77951/tow-company-asks-city-to-reconsider-business-permit-denial More...
February 17, 2016
February 16, 2016
City of Birmingham cracking down on business licenses
WBRC Fox 6 News; www.wbrc.com
By Vanessa Araiza
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - If you own a business in Birmingham, you may want to make sure you're up to date with your business license.
Birmingham city councilors voted to renew a contract on Tuesday that will put more people on the ground checking business licenses.
This is the second year the city has worked with the third party company, Public Resource Management Alliance Corporation.
So far, the city says it's been a success.
"They have been able to identify and collect taxes in the amount of approximately $2 million so far. So, it has worked wonderfully,” Birmingham City Assistant Attorney Yolanda Lawson said.
City leaders said the inspections could generate $3 million in revenue.
SOURCE: http://www.wbrc.com/story/31181715/city-of-birmingham-cracking-down-on-business-licenses More...
February 15, 2016
Menifee denies ranch business license, approves application to detach Valley-Wide Recreation
Valley News; www.myvalleynews.com
Jacob Preal | Valley News Intern
Menifee City Council held a public hearing for an appeal of a Business License Exemption Feb. 3, effectively ruling that ranches are required to obtain a license if they partake in any commercial activity. This includes the boarding of horses that do not belong to the ranch owner. During regular meeting proceedings, the council also requested the Local Agency Formation Commission to consider the detachment of Valley-Wide Recreation and Park District and approved a Joint Use Agreement with Santa Rosa Academy to use Lyle Marsh Park as an additional safe zone in the event of a major emergency.
Wooden Nickel Ranch was established in 1968 as a horse ranch but was since purchased by former city councilman Thomas Fuhrman in 1993. Under Menifee Municipal Code, commercial institutions are required to have active business licenses unless they serve an agricultural purpose “including auxiliary and ancillary uses incidental to the operation of a farm or ranch.” When Fuhrman did not qualify for such an exemption by city staff, he filed an appeal to the city council Dec. 18.
Ben-Thomas Hamilton, Fuhrman’s attorney, argued that the municipal code clearly exempts any agricultural institution from needing a business license. He presented the textbook definition of agriculture from “Merriam-Webster Dictionary” to accentuate his point that the raising of livestock is automatically indicative of agricultural use.
Councilman Matthew Liesemeyer asked about the number of horses living on the ranch. There are currently 18 horses, well above the five per acre standard for personal use.
Taking a more advisory role, City Attorney Jeff Melching chimed in to question the arbitrary use of a general definition, rather than a lawful one and focus the main point of the case – “Is horse boarding an agricultural activity?”
The Council would not budge. Fuhrman himself presented a list of 47 places that board horses in Menifee. “I called eight of them and I would surmise none of them have a C.U.P. to board horses. So in your due diligence, I would like some research done. On your own – because I have done mine – to see the other places that just board horses without a C.U.P.”
The Council unanimously approved the motion to deny the appeal.
In regards to the request to LAFCO, the council seldom spoke. The resolution outlined in the agenda would approve an application to LAFCO to detach Valley-Wide Recreation and Park District from the city. This was cause for alarm for Local Attorney Matthew Duarte who expressed his irritation with documents concerning LAFCO that were “exempt from public disclosure.” He insisted that these are “important issues that the public deserves to know about,” after trying in vain to access information.
“The action of detachment for Valley-Wide is not a city decision. The resolution that’s on consent tonight is for an application for LAFCO,” explained Mayor Scott Mann, clarifying that the resolution is simply due diligence. “LAFCO is the governing body that will analyze all the facts, figures, revenues, expenditures, take all the things that we’ve been saying for two years into consideration. And LAFCO will decide if there is a detachment action.”
The unanimous decision to send an application to LAFCO was prompted after a midyear report indicated six months of successful maintenance of west side parks. Following the Dec. 16 City Council meeting, a notice of intent to adopt the resolution has been sent to LAFCO as of Jan. 4 and the Parks, Recreation and Trails Commission reviewed it Jan. 7. The council has now adopted the resolution.
On a lighter note, Mann, returning from Sacramento, wanted to publicly congratulate Mayor Pro Tem Greg August for his “astonishing” council meeting that lasted only 18 minutes, 39 seconds. The speedy meeting was held in January.
SOURCE: http://myvalleynews.com/local/menifee-denies-ranch-business-license-approves-application-detach-valley-wide-recreation/ More...
February 11, 2016
City cracking down on car tags, business licenses
The Clarksdale Press Register; www.pressregister.com
By: Rebekah Yearout | The Press Register
At Monday’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Commissioners, a big topic for the department heads was catching people who aren’t updating their car tags or obtaining or updating their business licenses in accordance with state law.
Police chief Whit Read said so far, he’s found 100 infractions of people whose tags he believes are not legal and don’t belong to their Clarksdale addresses.
“We’re at a point right now to where we have identified … the out-of-state tags we’ve identified in Clarksdale and the locations where we believe they are residing and these are the county tags,” Read told the board. “In total, it’s 100; it’s 55 out of state and 45 out of county. I want to get with (city attorney) Curtis (Boschert) a little bit more about how we are actually going to address the enforcement issues of it; you’re looking at roughly 100 cases.”
Read also updated the board on the Clarksdale Police Department evidence room.
“Coming up towards the end of the month, we have the agents coming to help us with the property room,” Read said.
“In the property room, the officer in charge is to be commended for organizing and tagging several hundreds of weapons. The amount of work he is doing is really incredible,” said commissioner Ed Seals.
Read agreed, and said he wanted to have that officer commended by the board when the job was done.
Fire chief Obert Douglas gave an update on business license enforcement.
“The last two weeks I’ve had firemen going around checking business permits, it’s kind of astounding what he found. Twelve people came in and renewed their licenses…and there were 10 new businesses that came in and got their business permits,” Douglas said.
Mayor Bill Luckett commended Read and fire chief Obert Douglas for enforcing these laws in Clarksdale.
“I want to commend the fire department and the police department… for checking the business privilege license and the tag violations,” Luckett said.
He reminded the public of the law regarding car tags: If someone moves to Coahoma County from another county in Mississippi, they have until their former tags expire to renew them in the county. If a person has moved here from out of the state, including Tennessee or Arkansas, the person has 30 days to get Coahoma County tags.
Luckett said they’ve especially seen the problem with tags from Memphis, and even Tunica County.
“We’re going to continue to enforce this,” Luckett said.
Public works director Todd Jones said he got a new street sweeper operator and the old machinery repaired, so two street sweepers are in operation and two machines working.
“It was down three months and with one sweeper and even my lead machine is down too, so one machine has been pulling triple duty,” Jones said.
“One of the street sweepers we do have is making a clanking noise. Is it something we’re going to address?” asked commissioner Ken Murphey. Jones replied he’d heard complaints too, and said it was just a conveyer belt, and not causing any harm.
The rest of the meeting was business as usual. Luckett commended John and Naomi Casaceli, the new owners of what used to be the Holy Moly Drug Store and is now Levon’s Drug Store and Diner, at the corner of Issaquena Avenue and Third Street.
“They have moved here, they bought a house on Oakridge, and I happen to have for them something they can hang,” Luckett said, giving the Sydney natives an Australian flag to hang. “Welcome to Clarksdale.”
Luckett also pointed out that a house that burnt last year on the corner of Park Circle and West Second Street was being rebuilt.
“About a year ago, this board agreed to demo the house on the corner Park Circle and West Second, and they’re building a new house. We like people who continue to move to and build and buy in Clarksdale,” Luckett said.
He also said during his comments that the city of Clarksdale’s public works department has installed a disc golf range along the Sunflower River.
“We’ll be getting it in operation in the next few months, and real soon, you can enjoy disc golf across the river,” Luckett said.
A carryover issue from the last meeting was whether Herrin Street could be renamed after Dr. Glenn Gates, the veterinarian who passed away last year after serving the community for much of his life. Gregory Jones proposed changing the street name, and Luckett said the board still supported that as long as there wasn’t a covenant restricting the name of Herrin Street to its current name.
“After the city attorney gets back on that task, that there’s probably a way to recognize Dr. Gates with a street sign,” Luckett said, noting Herrin is “a long street” and residents have expressed concern over changing their addresses. “… But right now, we still need to make that check there aren’t some perpetual rights or not. We’ll know at the next meeting.”
The board approved applying for a grant for cigarette disposal throughout the city, and city economic developer Mac Crank said recycling manager Marc Taylor was filling out the form to have those put in place.
Read also got approval from the board for Sgt. Nick Turner, who resigned from CPD, to come back and work part-time to finish up his cases.
City consultant Bill Coker gave the board an update on the sanitary treatment plant project, which he said needed a change order to accommodate drainage issues.
“We have a request been made on our sanitary treatment plant for a change order. The drying beds… will not drain,” Coker said. “We’re going to have to drop a pump in there and get it dry and then find out what the problems with the valves in it are. … We have the funds to allocate to Landmark Construction, and we’re wanting to add 20 days to give them some additional time on their contract.”
The board unanimously approved this motion.
Boschert, at the end of the meeting, updated the board that the suit Moton v. City of Clarksdale, which alleged the ward lines were redrawn according to racial demographics, has been dismissed.
“Thank you, Mr. Attorney,” said commissioner Buster Moton, whose wife was the lead plaintiff in the case.
The city then moved into executive session to discuss personnel issues.
Rebekah Yearout is the managing editor for the Press Register and can be reached at 662-627-2201 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE: http://www.pressregister.com/article_c632d908-d045-11e5-9978-53da02b9d3cb.html More...
February 5, 2016
Portland bags its ban on snack sales at breweries, but a toast may be premature
Portland Press Herald; www.pressherald.com
The debate over serving pretzels in Portland breweries has taken a new twist.
City officials this week reversed a previous determination that breweries located in industrial zones could not sell prepackaged snacks in their tasting rooms.
The move will allow Allagash Brewing Co. to begin selling snacks from Portland Fruit and Nut Co., Coastal Maine Popcorn and Maine Vintage Kitchen as soon as next week. The request to sell snacks to beer tourists was made so the brewery can help temper the effects of alcohol on customers who might spend an afternoon visiting the half-dozen breweries on Industrial Way.
“We’re just really happy and really grateful they were willing to work with us,” said Jill Perry, the brewery’s retail manager. “This industry is growing so fast and there are so many changes coming at (city officials) from all directions. There are some things that have been in place for a long time that they haven’t looked at.”
Allagash was in the process of appealing the Nov. 3 zoning determination when city officials recommended tabling action by the Zoning Board of Appeals last month so it could re-evaluate what should be considered ancillary or accessory uses to breweries located in an industrial zone. Beer makers commonly sell T-shirts, pint glasses and decals, but a zoning administrator deemed those sales were illegal as well.
The city is now developing a new list of ancillary and accessory uses for breweries, which would permit the sale of snacks and swag.
After becoming aware of the ruling in November, City Manager Jon Jennings said he directed staff to be “a bit more flexible” in its interpretation, as staff worked on developing its new list of ancillary uses.
The Zoning Board of Appeals was scheduled to take up Allagash’s appeal Thursday, but the city’s reversal prompted the beer maker to withdraw it.
NEW CITY LICENSE, FEE UNDER REVIEW
With the snack issue resolved, the city is turning its attention to creating a new license for breweries, distilleries and wineries. Currently, these businesses only require a state-level license to manufacture and sell samples of their products, while restaurants and bars need additional licenses from the city.
As proposed, the new license would cost $500. The fees levied on restaurants and bars range from $702 for a nonprofit liquor license to $2,216 for a restaurant lounge to $2,642 for a Class A lounge license.
The lower fee reflects the fact that breweries, distilleries and wineries can sell only their own alcoholic beverages and are not preparing food on-site.
Janice Gardner, the city’s business license administrator, said in a Feb. 1 memo to the City Council’s Health and Human Services Committee, which will take up the proposal Tuesday, that these establishments are beginning to function like bars and should have some sort of licensing requirement.
“Breweries, wineries, and distilleries are now destinations for consumers to drink at their leisure, consume food from food vendors, and listen to bands,” Gardner said. “This business model closely resembles traditional restaurants and bars. In the interest of fairness, the City Clerk’s Office believes licensing breweries, wineries and distilleries is appropriate.”
BUSINESSES WARY OF NEGATIVE EFFECTS
Heather Sanborn, the co-owner and director of business operations for Rising Tide Brewing Co. in East Bayside, said most breweries are open to the idea of getting a special license, but some are concerned about how the new license requirement could affect breweries already in operation.
“I think there is a very cautious acceptance of the license,” Sanborn said. “We’re concerned about whether there might be unintended consequences.”
The state’s licensing fees for breweries, wineries and distilleries range from $50 to $1,000 a year, depending on the scale of production.
Sanborn said the brewing community is carefully following Portland’s licensing proposal, as well as the city’s efforts to define appropriate ancillary uses in industrial zones.
“These two things are happening at the same time and both could result in the imposition of an additional restriction on how businesses operate and have been operating for many years,” she said. “So far, the process has been good. I think the city is listening to us and taking it under advisement.”
SOURCE: http://www.pressherald.com/2016/02/04/portland-bags-snack-ban-on-breweries-but-considers-a-new-business-license/ More...
February 4, 2016
City to consider raising business license fees
Reno Gazette-Journal; www.rgj.com
The council approved a motion at its Jan. 20 meeting to solicit information from businesses regarding a possible restructure to the city’s business license fee schedule.
City clerk Kim Swanson provided an overview to city council members explaining that revenues generated from businesses that must pay for licenses to operate within city limits would be dedicated to the council’s priorities for the 2016-17 budget, which outlines a need for road maintenance and improvements to city parks.
One major reason to restructure the system now, Swanson said, is that fees have not been raised since 2009. License fees currently are based on the number of employees. A business that has one to three employees, for example, is charged $100; a business with four to 24 would pay $275; and the increments climb to a maximum of $3,000 for 1,000 or more workers.
For commercial businesses, the change to the new system would charge companies that generate up to $250,000 in revenue a $100 license fee, from $250,000 to $400,000 a $275 license fee, and for those that earn $400,000.01 or more, it would be $300 and the gross receipts would apply, so business owners would pay an additional dollar for every $10,000 beyond $400,000.
Home-based businesses currently pay an annual $75 fee, but the proposed changes suggest that such businesses that qualify for a state of Nevada exemption also would qualify for a Fernley fee exemption, though some still would be required to pay the $75 cost.
For out-of-town licenses, no changes are being made at this time, Swanson said. Companies with one to 50 employees would continue to pay $150 and those with more than 51 workers pay $250.
With the office keeping track of 1,186 commercial, out-of-town, home-based and daycare licenses, the majority of fees are derived from out-of-town businesses that do not maintain a physical address within Fernley city limits.
Swanson said it is a staff recommendation to move to a collection of gross receipts, or the total amount of revenue received from the business’ total sources, rather than employee-based fees. She added Fernley is one of the last municipal governments in the state currently not using such a fee scale.
Councilman Cal Eilrich said the staff might want to be prepared to hear from some upset business owners about any adverse impacts any potential increases could have on them with what’s gone on in other jurisdictions.”
“They’re getting nailed,” he said. “You’re going to hear from some upset business owners.”
Councilwoman Shari Whalen said she wanted to make sure that owners receive reassurance that revenues, if approved this year, are used appropriately.
“Is there any way to put in language that we’re not just going to put another position in city manager’s office?” she asked.
City manager Daphne Hooper said it would be made clear that the funds go toward infrastructure.
Swanson said public comment cards were expected to be mailed out Tuesday, with a workshop addressing the business impact study tentatively scheduled for 5 p.m. Feb. 22 at city hall. The city manager and legal department would review the business impact statement by March 1 with the final statement taken before the council at its April 20 meeting for final approval. The new fee schedule would then be implemented July 1. The motion passed 5-0.
Jessica Garcia, email@example.com
February 2, 2016
Prescott Council considers new business-license program
The Daily Courier; www.dcourier.com
PRESCOTT - Simplicity is the city's goal for a proposed new business license, says City Manager Craig McConnell. More...
The possible implementation of a new business-license program will be among the issues the Prescott City Council will discuss at a workshop on Tuesday, Feb. 2.
The meeting will be the first in the council's new schedule, which will feature a 1 p.m. workshop, followed by a 5:30 p.m. voting session. The meetings will take place twice a month - on the first and third Tuesdays.
The council approved a six-month trial period for the new schedule recently in an attempt to get more public involvement in city meetings. Both meetings will take place at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.
The business-license proposal will appear on the workshop agenda, but not on the voting agenda. Mayor Harry Oberg has said the council likely would discuss the idea in a workshop setting at least once more before taking a vote.
On Friday, Jan. 29, McConnell said city officials have been working through a number of details for the proposed new license.
"Simplicity - believe it or not - is the key," he said of the plan the council will discuss on Tuesday.
As an example, he pointed to offices that include a number of attorneys, doctors, or real estate agents. The question, he said, is whether the license should apply to each of the professionals who do business within the larger operation, or just to the main office.
"From the administrative and staff prospective, we want it to be simple," McConnell said. "It does not seem reasonable for each (of the professionals) to have a business license."
That is just one of the questions that have emerged, McConnell said, noting that it is "illustrative of the careful crafting that has to be done to achieve the purpose (of the license)."
Basically, McConnell said he expects the city to view the business license as "a registry," not a means of additional regulation.
The license fee is being suggested as an amount that would recover the city's cost of administering the program, McConnell said - likely in the $25-to-$35 range.
In other action at the 1 p.m. workshop, the council will:
• Hear a mid-fiscal-year budget report from Budget and Finance Director Mark Woodfill.
Along with the report on revenues and expenditures to date in fiscal year 2015/2016, the report also will include a preliminary look at the coming fiscal year.
• Hear a legislative update from Deputy City Manager Alison Zelms, concerning the bills being considering at the Arizona Legislature, which would have an impact on Prescott.
At the 5:30 p.m. voting session, the council will consider just one action item: adoption of a resolution in support of HB 2107, the bill - sponsored by State Rep. Noel Campbell - that would give local governments more authority to regulate structured sober-living homes.
In addition, the voting session will include a presentation from Sherrie Hanna on the exposure of "Downwinders" to radiation from government nuclear testing and federal legislation.
The agenda also includes a presentation by the Kiwanis Club of Prescott regarding the Kayla Mueller Helping Hands Park.
Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-642-0951.
February 1, 2016
Charleston offers online renewal option for city business licenses
The Post and Courier; www.postandcourier.com
Companies and other organizations will be able to renew their business licenses with the city of Charleston through an online service being launched Tuesday.
The system is password-protected and can be accessed at the charleston-sc.gov/cap portal, according to a written statement.
All business licenses issued by the city for 2015 expired Dec. 31.
“This new online service has been a top priority for the city of Charleston,” Mayor Joe Riley said in prepared remarks. “Our goal is to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people to conduct business with our city, and this is just one of the many things we are working on to facilitate convenience for the Charleston business community.”
The new system is aimed at existing licensed companies that will be receiving their annual notices in the mail this month. Renewal penalties are assessed after Jan. 31.
The online system enables users to create an account that will be verified by city staffers within two business days. Once their information is confirmed, applicants can enter their gross receipts from the previous fiscal year and allowable deductions.
The city said it accepts American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa cards as payment. Businesses will receive a paper copy of the certificate by mail within two weeks.
Charleston requires a license for all organizations and individuals who conduct business within its boundaries, even if they are physically located outside the city limits.
Written by: More...
January 28, 2016
D.C. Offers Local Businesses ‘Amnesty’ for Late Fees in 2016
Washington City Paper; www.washingtoncitypaper.com
Posted by Andrew Giambrone
For the first time since 2012, D.C.'s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs will run an "amnesty program" that will allow businesses to comply with local regulations related to licensing and registration without them having to pay certain penalties like those for late renewals and not filing reports.
Starting Jan. 1 and lasting through Feb. 29, 2016, the program offers D.C.-based businesses the opportunity to renew their expired licenses at the price required of brand new entities rather than those that have accrued fees over time. Participation could save businesses potentially thousands of dollars: Failing to renew a business license costs between $250 and $500 per licensing period, not submitting required corporate biennial reports costs $400 per missing report, and reinstating a corporation in revoked status costs $300, meaning all those fees can rack up into the thousands if not paid in years.
"For businesses—particularly small ones—who encounter financial setbacks, the late fees can present entry barriers," explains DCRA Director of Legislative and Public Affairs Matt Orlins, in an email to City Desk. "In 2012, DCRA found a significant increase in business licensing revenue during the amnesty program. That told us that many businesses in the District wanted to come into compliance, but needed an opportunity."
Hundreds of businesses participated in the 2012 program, Orlins adds. However, fines associated with "notices of infraction" for "affirmative actions of wrongdoing," such as illegal construction, would still apply. In turn, business owners could appeal those NOIs to the Office of Administrative Hearings.
The following types of businesses are eligible to participate in the program:
- Businesses operating under an expired license
- Businesses operating without a license, or corporate registration in revoked status
- Businesses operating without registration of commercial weights and scales, UPC, scanners, etc.
In D.C., business licensing fees range from $35 to $1300. More...
January 26, 2016
Northbridge spars with bowling alley over retail food permit
The Telegram & Gazette; telegram.com
By Susan Spencer
Telegram & Gazette Staff
NORTHBRIDGE - The drinking fountain is draped with a chain and cordoned off with yellow-and-black tape in the corner of Sparetime Recreation, a bowling alley and indoor play area at 117 Church St. in the Whitinsville section of town.
The coffee pot that for decades provided free coffee to senior league bowlers is off the counter. The cooler where bottles of soda and juice were stored for sale is empty.
A sign above the bubbler warns customers not to drink from the water fountain or bathroom faucets, per a court order and criminal complaint from the town of Northbridge.
It’s not that the water was unsafe to drink or anyone had gotten sick from the coffee.
The dry setting, complete with visual enhancements, is Sparetime owner and manager Kenneth R. Couture’s response to orders from the Board of Health that he pay the $100 annual fee for a permit as a limited retail food establishment.
The board issued a criminal complaint and took him to court last year after Mr. Couture refused to comply in 2014 and 2015.
“Sometimes, you’ve got to stand up for principle,” Mr. Couture said in an interview.
But that stand against what he calls “overregulation” could be costly.
In December, after a jury found Mr. Couture had violated the state sanitary code and an order of the Board of Health by failing to comply with the permit requirement, Worcester Housing Court Judge Diana H. Horan ordered Mr. Couture to pay a fine of $7,500 to the town.
The potential fines could have exceeded $143,000 under state regulations, because the $500 second-offense penalty for violation of the order could accrue daily.
Henry J. Lane, Mr. Couture’s lawyer, has appealed the order.
Mr. Couture, whose family has owned the bowling alley since the 1950s, resumed management of the business in 2014 after a hiatus during which his brother Wayne had run it for several years. Both Wayne and Ken Couture, when he was previously in charge, had obtained annual Board of Health permits.
After he returned in 2014, Mr. Couture refused to pay the then-increased annual permit fee for the few bottles of soda and juice he sold and the free coffee he served to the senior bowling leagues. He claimed that under the federal Food and Drug Administration’s food code, which the state sanitary code incorporates, “food establishment” specifically does not include “An establishment that offers only prepackaged foods that are not potentially hazardous.”
Both Mr. Couture and Board of Health Chairman Paul R. McKeon claim the other side has a vendetta that’s escalated over the years.
In one incident, the town made a financial settlement to Mr. Couture after a 2009 lawsuit in which Mr. Couture claimed the town and contractor Carlo Molinari Inc. were negligent when the contractor relocated utility lines and severed a sewer pipe leading to Mr. Couture’s business.
“This is just a vendetta against the town,” Mr. McKeon said. “It’s a foolish thing for $100.”
He added: “We’re not telling him he can’t use the bubbler. We’re telling him he can’t do the soda and the coffee.”
“The town is arbitrarily and capriciously targeting our business,” Mr. Couture said. “The federal food code is pretty clear that any hermetically sealed product is exempt."
And as for the town’s including free coffee in its complaint against Sparetime, Mr. Couture said, “Banks, auto mechanics, basically every business in town gives away free coffee.”
He said, “We’re probably the oldest business in the town of Whitinsville. The town is littered with vacant storefronts… and the town is harassing us.”
On Monday afternoon approximately 30 members of a senior bowling league, some as old as 95, kept the lanes busy. Some bowlers bemoaned the town’s action and the absence of beverages.
Leo Lamanuzzi of Upton said: “He’s had coffee forever. There’s no reason why he’s getting put in the hot water like he is. People used to bring in pastries, have a cup of coffee with it - everybody was happy.”
“People need water,” Leigh Backstrom of Grafton said about the closed-off water fountain. “I have to remember to bring my own (now) because I have to have water. I was treated for cancer and I was told never to let myself get dehydrated.”
Paul Webster of Upton criticized what he saw as “bureaucracy” over the permit rules. He said, “I didn’t know Putin was working over here.”
Mr. Lane, Mr. Couture’s lawyer, said the town is enforcing its rules very selectively.
“As we pointed out, the Board of Health passes out candy in a bowl. The Town Hall has water fountains,” he said. “It just seems very arbitrary…. If UniBank would like to serve coffee to their customers or pass out lollipops, that’s OK.”
Mr. Lane said the term “dispensing” a beverage didn’t distinguish between selling or giving it away.
According to Town Manager Theodore D. Kozak, the town has spent a little more than $5,000 so far on legal fees for the case.
Mr. Couture, a Whitinsville resident, said, “I’m questioning why the town is spending this kind of money.” More...
January 22, 2016
January 21, 2016
Los Angeles, CA
City will stop issuing business licenses to medical marijuana shops
The city will stop issuing new business tax certificates to medical marijuana dispensaries under an ordinance approved Tuesday by the Los Angeles City Council.
Despite the 2013 voter approval of Proposition D, which banned most medical marijuana businesses in Los Angeles, city finance officials have continued to issue tax certificates and collect taxes from them, illegal or not.
Some medical pot shops in the city are still allowed to operate due to exceptions in Proposition D, but finance officials said they are unequipped to determine whether a medical marijuana dispensary is in compliance and must leave the potentially complex legal question to be sorted out by city attorneys.
City leaders said collecting taxes while also banning medical marijuana businesses sends a mixed message, prompting them to simply cut off the issuance of any new tax registrations.
The ordinance approved by the City Council today calls for no new tax registration certificates to be issued for “any medical marijuana collective business activity.” The mayor must also sign off on the ordinance before it can go into effect.
Councilman Joe Buscaino said the few pot shops that are allowed under Proposition D had to have already registered by September 2007, so this new ordinance “finally puts an end to the issuance of business tax licenses to illegal pot shops in the city of L.A.”
He said by halting the issuance of new tax certificates to dispensaries, the city will be “inhibiting fraudulent activity” and curbing what appears to be an increase in dispensaries despite the enactment of Proposition D. Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson said a “mix” of illegal and legal pot shops has “hijacked storefronts” in his district for medical marijuana sales.
“This was one of the main issues that came up in almost every neighborhood house meeting,” he said.
Some city officials have accused medical marijuana dispensaries of using the tax certificates to trick landlords and others into thinking they are permitted businesses.
City Councilwoman Nury Martinez, who pushed to discontinue the tax certificates to illegal pot shops, told City News Service last fall that because she has been trying to shut down illegal pot shops in her district, it is insincere for the city to simultaneously collect taxes from them.
“They shouldn’t be operating, because they don’t fall within the law, and we shouldn’t be collecting taxes on these businesses that are illegally operating,” Martinez said. “As much as we try to shut the illegal ones down, they turn around and we issue a BTRC (business tax registration certificate) to them.”
The city collected $4.4 million from 447 dispensaries toward the end of last year, even though only an estimated 100 or so dispensaries were thought to be in compliance with Proposition D.
The city collected $5 million in 2014 from 519 tax registration certificate holders that identify themselves as marijuana businesses.
The ordinance adopted today was based on the idea that any newly registered medical marijuana business could not possibly qualify for the exception in Proposition D, which gives immunity to businesses that can show they registered by a certain date and comply with several other requirements.
The ordinance also makes it a misdemeanor for a business operators to lie on an affidavit attesting that the dispensary complies with Proposition D. The ordinance makes filling out the affidavits a part of the process of registration renewal, which is done through the annual payment of taxes.
Displaying or maintaining “expired, suspended or otherwise invalid” tax certificates will also be considered a misdemeanor under the ordinance.
City officials are also working to change the color of the tax certificates and include language to make it clearer that such certificates are only for “tax compliance purposes,” according to city attorneys. Efforts are also underway to stop giving medical marijuana businesses the ability to register for tax certificates or file taxes online.
Holding a certificate does not indicate that a business is legal, only that the business has applied to pay taxes to the city. Medical marijuana businesses that are permitted to operate under Proposition D are required to pay business taxes to the city.
—City News Service More...
January 18, 2016
Olympia mayor failed to renew business license for 13 months
The Olympian, www.theolympian.com
Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby, who owns a downtown clothing business, didn’t renew her city business license in 2015.
Selby owns Vivala, a shop with locations in Olympia and Tumwater. The business has been registered with the Secretary of State’s Office since 2006.
Businesses are required to get a license from the municipality where they operate, and businesses must renew that local license every year.
Selby said her Olympia business license expired 13 months ago. As a result, she was ineligible for a simple renewal at $30 and had to re-register the business for the full $80 fee.
A new Olympia business license for Vivala LLC was issued Jan. 8, according to the state Department of Revenue’s Business Licensing Service, which shows that Vivala’s Tumwater license will expire at the end of February.
Selby, who was elected mayor in November, addressed the issue from the dais during Tuesday’s council meeting.
“Last year, I got notice to renew my Tumwater location, which I did, and somehow did not receive notification or it slipped through the cracks somewhere during the busy campaign year and I did not renew my downtown Olympia license for one year,” Selby said Tuesday.
“I need to research how I didn’t get a follow-up notice that said ‘Cheryl, you need to renew,’” she said. “So I’m really glad that was brought to my attention because otherwise I wouldn’t have known.”
The expired business license came to Selby’s attention when, during public comment, local resident Ellen Rice complained that she had to pay $80 for a business license — on top of a $24 state business permit — to sell her self-published book in Olympia. Rice encouraged the city to reduce the costs for “micro-entrepreneurs” like herself.
“My goal for selling my little book is to buy a new sewing machine,” Rice told the council Jan. 5. “It’s silly to pay $80. You’re charging me the same amount that the city charged REI.”
City Manager Steve Hall later approached Rice outside council chambers, where he learned from Thurston County resident Missy Genson that Selby’s city business license was expired. Genson said she discovered the expired license after searching for Selby’s business on the Business Licensing Service website.
Selby said the city has not fined her and that all her taxes have been paid on time. This was confirmed by a city spokeswoman.
“It’s embarrassing as a business owner,” Selby said. “I’d like to find out how I didn’t get notification.”
The state Department of Revenue handles business license transactions and related penalties for several cities. According to Olympia city code, failure to renew a city business license may result in a penalty.
“A business license delinquency fee is imposed on licensees who fail to renew by the business license expiration date,” according to city code, which notes a maximum fee of $150. “The business license delinquency fee must be added to the renewal fee and paid by the licensee before a business license is renewed.”
A section of city code includes harsher penalties of up to $1,000. City spokeswoman Kellie Purce Braseth said this section of the code “is the legal hammer meant for repeat offenders and blatant violators of the code.”
Braseth added that for otherwise law-abiding business owners who don’t renew because of an oversight, the city will charge them the appropriate fees and “send them out to play their part in keeping the economy running.”
January 15, 2016
Colorado Springs, CO
Raising rats, mice? Don't forget business license
The Gazette, www.gazette.com
In the event your plans for 2016 include raising rats and mice as a food source for carnivores, be aware you will need a license from Colorado's commissioner of agriculture under the Pet Animal Care and Facilities Act, or PACFA.
This, at least, is the holding in a case recently decided by the Colorado Court of Appeals. The case, John T. Salazar, Commissioner of Agriculture vs. Lynn Kubic dba Willards Rodent Factory, had its start when Kubic did not renew the license for her business. Said business raises rats and mice and sells them to owners of snakes and other animals that consider rodents a part of a healthy diet. Kubic felt she did not need a license because her rats and mice were not "pet animals" covered by PACFA. The commissioner of agriculture disagreed and sued her for violating the law.
By way of background, PACFA is a modestly complex statute that has been on the books since 1994. It requires "pet animal facilities" to have a license and otherwise be regulated by the Department of Agriculture. Included are such facilities as community animal shelters and commercial dog and cat breeders.
When, as here, courts are called on to interpret a statute, the objective is to determine legislative intent. The analysis begins with a close reading of the words the Legislature chose to use. If the words have a clear meaning, that ends the matter. If the words are ambiguous, other rules of construction come into play.
In the Willards Rodent Factory case, the words in question are found in the definition of "pet animal." Under PACFA, a "pet animal" is defined as: "dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rats, gerbils, ferrets, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates, or any other species of wild or domestic or hybrid animal sold, transferred, or retained for the purpose of being kept as a household pet . . "
The trial court and the Court of Appeals looked at this definition and concluded everything listed before the first "or" was a pet animal. Clear meaning, no ambiguity. Only "other species," as referenced after the first "or," are subject to the "household pet" requirement. Kubic argued, unsuccessfully, that the words "household pet" were also intended to apply to the animals listed before the first "or." Therefore, her rats and mice, since they were not going to be pets and were instead going to be eaten, were not "pet animals" under PACFA. Kubic's backup plan was to argue that her rats and mice were covered by an exclusion in the pet animal definition for working animals. But there, she failed to convince the courts that sitting around waiting to be eaten constituted work.
An appeal of this case seems unlikely. Getting a PACFA license will be much cheaper. However, since, in the legal arena, legislative bodies trump courts, the 2016 Legislature might want to revisit PACFA if it thinks the courts got it wrong when they decided the legislative intent, in 1994, was to classify rats and mice raised as a food source for carnivores as pet animals.
As an aside on the overall subject of animal law, all states, including Colorado, have statutes making animal cruelty a criminal offense, and most of these statutes prohibit animal fighting. History has it that Abraham Lincoln, during the Civil War, was asked to champion a law prohibiting cockfighting, which he declined to do.
"Since humans continue to fight," he said, "who am I to deny chickens an equal right?"
Jim Flynn is a private attorney with Flynn Wright & Fredman LLC in Colorado Springs. He also is the author of three law-related novels. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. More...
January 12, 2016
Deadline approaches for Opelika business licenses
January of each year means it’s time for business owners in the City of Opelika to renew their business licenses.
All City of Opelika business licenses for the year 2015 expired on Dec. 31. Licenses must be renewed on or before Monday, Feb. 15, 2016. After that date, late fees and interest will be added to renewals.
There are two approval processes for obtaining a business license with the City of Opelika.
Businesses that conduct business inside the city, but do not have an office or physical presence here, should visit or call the revenue department, inside City Hall at the corner of South Seventh Street and Avenue A.
"Explain the nature of your business to one of the Revenue Department employees, who will be able to tell you what type license is needed," according to a press release. "Fill out an application form. You can do this at the Revenue Department location or go online to www.opelika.org and download the application form from the Revenue Department page, and bring it into the revenue office with you. You can pay your license fee by cash or check, payable to City of Opelika."
The price of the license will vary depending on the type of license required, and it will include a $10 issuance fee. A license certificate will be issued at that time.
Those maintaining an office or physical presence and conducting business inside the city limits can d ownload and fill out the top part of the License Requirements Verification Form, along with the business license application, which is available at the revenue office or can be downloaded from www.opelika.org.
"Include a phone number. Take this form to the planning department at 700 Fox Trail. Various departments will sign off on the form that you have met all city regulations regarding your business. You then may come to the Revenue Department to obtain your license. You can obtain the price of the license by calling the Revenue Department at 334-705-5160 or 334-705-5162. If you plan to operate your business from your home inside the city limits, you will need to obtain a Home Occupation License," the press release said.
There are two exceptions to the Feb. 15 renewal date: alcoholic beverage licenses are delinquent after Jan. 15 of every year, and insurance company licenses are delinquent after March 1 .
Renewal notices were mailed out during December for this year’s registered business renewals, and included all forms necessary for renewal. These forms and remittances may be mailed to P.O. Box 390 in Opelika.
The Revenue Department is open from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and is at 204 South Seventh Street in downtown Opelika. All information and forms needed for conducting business in Opelika can be found on the city’s website, opelika.org. More...
December 21, 2015
Morris council increases penalties for operating without business license
The North Jefferson News
The Morris Town Council approved a previously-introduced ordinance that altered the town’s business license rules.
The new ordinance increases the penalty for operating a business without a license to a fine up to $500 and six months in jail for each offense. Each day a business is operated without a license constitutes a new offense, under the new rules.
In other business, the council:
- approved sending police chief Mike Nazarchyk to the annual winter chief conference in Montgomery.
- approved spending $475.71 on replacing EMS supplies used by the fire department
- approved spending approximately $300 on maintenance for the fire engine More...
December 7, 2015
Fulnecky dispute shines spotlight on business licensing process
The dispute among city leaders over whether Councilwoman Kristi Fulnecky should have been eligible to take office shines a spotlight on what should be a fairly perfunctory process, one that thousands of local residents have gone through.
On Friday, five council members announced they had asked a retired Supreme Court justice to determine whether Fulnecky should keep her seat after a city review found the councilwoman's company — Fulnecky Enterprises — had been operating for years without a business license.
Fulnecky has said the move is retaliation for her statements and votes on certain issues, and questioned whether she needed to obtain a license, even though she did so last month after being contacted by city staff. The five council members have denied the move is political; Councilwoman Jan Fisk told the News-Leader Monday the review was needed to be fair "to the other 13,000 people who have city licenses.”
City spokeswoman Cora Scott confirmed Monday that approximately 13,000 permanent business license are currently on file. Another 3,000 temporary licenses are on file for operations such as flea markets and lawn-mowing services.
Businesses in Springfield are supposed to acquire the appropriate license — and pay the appropriate fee — two weeks prior to the date they begin operating. But that doesn't always happen.
Scott said Monday that businesses are "often" asked to pay business license fees for previous years due to a failure to register, but that the city doesn't track the exact number of scofflaws. The failure to register can come to the city's attention a number of different ways, she said.
"While I cannot comment on Councilwoman Fulnecky's specific instance, I can tell you that oftentimes a citizen will call in to question whether or not a business has a license, which will prompt further investigation," Scott said. "Also, the licensing office has four mobile inspectors. The office also watches social media and other mainstream media to be apprised of new businesses in the community."
Springfield city code states that individuals who operate a business without obtaining the necessary license "shall be guilty of a misdemeanor" — a violation that can prompt a fine of up to $1,000, and/or up to 180 days in jail. Scott said "we pursue the lack of license as an ordinance violation and enforce it through municipal court."
There are almost 200 different categories of business license, and fees can vary widely depending on type and size of the operation.
Many businesses are assessed a fee based on a standard rate schedule — $10 annually for operations with gross sales up to $5,000, and $20 annually for those up to $10,000. Beyond that mark, the fee increases with each additional $1,000 in sales — 50 cents per $1,000 up to $100,000; 35 cents up to $200,000, and 25 cents per $1,000 beyond that. Receipts are self-reported, Scott said.
New businesses, which don't have past receipts, are assessed a fee based on an estimate of potential gross sales they provide.
Some types of businesses aren't subject to the standard fee schedule, and have their own specific fee. Barbershops, for example, pay an annual fee of $2.50 per chair to be licensed. A circus must pay $100 for the first day, and $25 for each additional day. Taxidermists pay $15 annually, while hotels pay $15 for the first room and $1 for each additional unit.
Other types of businesses are subject to their own modified fee schedule.
In a resume Fulnecky included when she applied to run for council last year, she indicated she was president and owner of Fulnecky Enterprises, LLC, since June 2008, and attorney and owner of Fulnecky Law, LLC, since Dec. 2007.
A News-Leader review of business filings with the Missouri Secretary of State's Office indicates both businesses were filed with the state at that time. Fulnecky is listed as the registered agent for both entities, each of which list a Springfield address. Scott said the city does not get any notice from the state when businesses are filed with a Springfield address.
Because of a state statute, law firms don't require a city business licenses — a distinction that would seem to apply to Fulnecky Law, which Fulnecky's resume indicates specializes in "federal and state government contracting, Native American law, gaming law, and government affairs." The state statute also exempts certain other professionals — including certified public accountants, dentists, and priests — from being "made liable to pay any municipal or other corporation tax or license fee of any description whatever for the privilege of following or carrying on such profession or calling."
Fulnecky Enterprises, meanwhile, was described in the resume as a "construction management company," with one of its services "government compliance." A list of business types subject to something other than the standard rate schedule does not appear to have a category that would apply to Fulnecky Enterprises.
Fulnecky told the News-Leader Monday she’s trying to determine if the rule on licenses is “based on the individual or business practice.” More...
November 25, 2015
San Francisco, CA
Startup Zenefits Under Scrutiny For Flouting Insurance Laws
The Silicon Valley startup Zenefits, valued at $4.5 billion in a funding round earlier this year, apparently flouted insurance laws by allowing unlicensed brokers to sell health insurance — an approach that has led to at least one regulatory inquiry into the legality of its operations.
Zenefits, a middleman in the health insurance business, has repeatedly failed to enforce legal requirements that anyone selling a health insurance policy have an appropriate state license, a BuzzFeed News investigation has found. The San Francisco–based company allowed numerous salespeople to act as insurance brokers in at least seven states without licenses to do so, according to internal emails and records, as well as interviews with eight former employees with direct knowledge of the matter.
BuzzFeed News has reviewed examples of the unlicensed sale of insurance by Zenefits employees dating back as far as the summer of 2014 and continuing through this summer. It is unclear when the practice began and whether it continues today; the company says it now has strict procedures in place to enforce licensing rules.
At least one regulator, the insurance commissioner in Washington state, is currently examining whether Zenefits operated there without licenses, according to a spokesperson for the agency, Stephanie Marquis. The Washington inquiry began in early 2015 and has not yet been resolved, she said.
Zenefits management seemed aware of the potentially serious consequences of violating licensing rules. Under Washington law, anyone who knowingly sells, solicits, or negotiates insurance without the proper state license is guilty of a Class B felony, which can carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years, as well as a civil penalty of up to $25,000 for each violation. More...
November 23, 2015
City Council approves higher business license fees
Kirksville Daily Express
For the first time in 50 years, Kirksville businesses will be paying higher fees for business licenses after an ordinance change was approved by the City Council.
The Kirksville City Council approved, 3-1-1, an increase to the city’s business license fees during its meeting on Monday.
For a service business (business that only provides a service and does not have retail sales), the business license fee will be $40, while a retail business will have a license fee of $25. Previously, the business license fees were $10 for both.
Retail businesses will also continue to pay gross receipts fees.
The investigative fee for a new business license will also increase from $10 to $25 to cover additional paperwork and inspections.
King said it currently costs the city about $41 per business to keep businesses in compliance with all of the laws. The city will see an overall increase in revenue of about $13,000 with the change.
“We’re hoping that the increase in these retail businesses and the service business fees will help the city catch up to some of those fees that we have been paying,” King said. “We’re hoping to even out some of the revenues with the expenses that the city spends right now.”
King also said she compared the city’s business license fees with each third-class city in the state and found that Kirksville ranked the lowest in the price that it charges for the license.
City Council member Rick Steele opposed the increase to the business license fees.
“Being the lowest fees in the state for third-class cities, I don’t see as a bad thing,” Steele said. “We’re trying to attract new businesses and keep the businesses that we have. I personally don’t see a reason for a fee increase.”
Kirksville Mayor Pro Tem Glen Moritz abstained from the vote.
In other business, City Council members approved, 4-1, an agreement with the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission after the city was recently awarded the Traffic Engineering Assistance Program (TEAP) grant.
The TEAP grant will help fund a traffic study in downtown Kirksville to find the safest and most economical way to direct traffic in and out of the area while also promoting businesses.
The total cost of the project is about $20,000. The TEAP grant will fund $8,000 for the study, while the city will pay for $12,000.
Moritz opposed the agreement, saying he thought city staff had already made “great suggestions” on the flow of downtown traffic. More...
November 19, 2015
San Jose, CA
San Jose City Council approves changes for taxi drivers to operate in city, airport
KRON 4 News
SAN JOSE (BCN) — The San Jose City Council approved changes Tuesday for taxi drivers who have fewer requirements to operate in the city and Mineta San Jose International Airport.
The modifications approved in a unanimous vote include dropping a requirement for taxi drivers to have their vehicle inspected by police, which added extra time and costs, and will only need to have their vehicles inspected by the state.
Taxi drivers who do get fingerprints can be issued temporary permits after a background check with police to work while their FBI background check is being processed, which can take up to 30 days.
The changes also include an option for taxi drivers to undergo background checks under a similar plan approved by the council last week for ride-booking services such as Uber and Lyft to operate at the airport, airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes said.
Hundreds of taxi drivers went on a two-day strike before the council voted on revisions last Tuesday for ride-booking services and protested outside City Hall calling for equal regulations with ride-booking services.
The alternative plan includes background checks with the California Public Utilities Commission, which does not require fingerprints, random monthly audits at the airport on 1 percent of the company’s drivers and waived requirements for their vehicle’s age and mileage, Barnes said.
Taxi and ride-booking drivers will have to post their business license in their vehicle, Barnes said.The programs for taxi and ride-booking companies will be evaluated by the council in six months, Barnes said.
Any taxi trips booked through a mobile application would be deregulated and an on-demand administration fee was reduced from $1.95 to $1.55 at the airport.
“We’ve made some really great progress to ensure equity among ground transportation operators,” Barnes said.
The 40-cent cut can save taxi drivers $50 a month, but they have already paid an average $800 a month to operate at the airport, according to Yellow Checker Cab Company general manager Larry Silva.
The on-demand fee implemented earlier this year has hit taxi drivers hard and any savings helps, Silva said.
Silva was more concerned about whether cab drivers will leave the industry to work for ride-booking companies. Some taxi drivers, none who work for Yellow Checker Cab Company, will work for ride-booking services during the days off, he said.
Silva didn’t see anyone in the taxi industry giving up on obtaining fingerprints.
“The security of knowing who’s driving our taxi cabs far outweighs a random check,” he said.
Overall, Silva thought the council took steps in the right direction, but is concerned over taxi drivers who still need to obtain licenses to operate in each city compared to ride-booking service drivers who can operate anywhere, anytime. More...
November 2, 2015
Recycling Firm In Gary Closed For Non-Compliance
GARY | A recycling business operating on Gary's West Side had its privileges revoked last week when Gary city officials shut down the business for not being in compliance with city ordinances.
Envirogreen, 5901 W. 7th Ave., was shut down on Wednesday after the business was found to be operating without a general business license. Owners had been denied an opportunity to apply for a business license as the location, a residential neighborhood, is not zoned for a recycling type business. Envirogreen also was violating the city's zoning ordinance.
"While we do want to attract businesses to the city of Gary, we will not tolerate businesses operating outside of city ordinances and in this case whose illicit operations infringe on the quality of life in our community and the quiet enjoyment of our residents," Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said.
Envirogreen was operating out of the former TradeWinds facility. According to information provided from the mayor's office, the city had received numerous complaints from neighbors.
Gary city officials are also urging anyone interested in operating a business in Gary to contact the Department of Commerce for information regarding proper licensing in the city. The department can be reached at (219) 882-3000, ext. 6748.
November 2, 2015
Des Moines, IA
Women Sue State Over Licensing Requirement For Hair Braiding
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Two Des Moines women have filed a lawsuit against the Iowa cosmetology board, seeking to start a hair braiding business without acquiring state licenses.
The Des Moines Register reports that Aicheria Bell and Achan Agit filed the lawsuit against the Iowa Board of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences on Tuesday. Bell and Agit say they don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on cosmetology school to attain licenses.
State law requires a license for someone to legally conduct business braiding hair. Someone would have to complete 2,100 hours at a licensed cosmetology school to pass the state exam. The lawsuit says the schooling could cost as much as $22,000.
A spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Public Health, which oversees the cosmetology board, said officials hadn’t seen the lawsuit yet.
November 2, 2015
Restaurant Owner Charged With Bribing Ex-Rhode Island House Speaker
A Providence restaurant owner has been indicted on a single count of bribing a public official for allegedly paying off former Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox to get a liquor license.
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and State Police Col. Steven O'Donnell on Friday announced the indictment returned by a grand jury in Providence.
Raymond Hugh is accused of bribing Fox when he sat on the Providence board of licenses to ensure Hugh's restaurant, the Shark Bar, could get a liquor license.
Fox admitted he took more than $50,000 to help push the license through. He is serving a three-year prison term for bribery and for taking more than $100,000 from his campaign account.
Hugh did not immediately return messages seeking comment. He previously said he didn't know anything about a bribe.
October 29, 2015
Raise A Glass: Pennsylvania's Archaic Liquor Laws Are Finally Changing
Local brewers, distributors and retailers of beer in Pennsylvania have had a direct and positive impact on Pennsylvania’s economy over the last year.
According to a biennial economic impact study by Beer Serves America, the combined direct, supplier and induced economic impact of the beer industry in Pennsylvania brought more than $9.2 billion (yes, billion) into the Commonwealth in 2014. Compare that to the nearly $253 billion generated by the U.S. beer industry overall.
Additionally, brewers, distributors and retailers employ nearly 41,000 people in Pennsylvania and contribute more than $3.7 billion in annual wages to those employees. This has a ripple effect, as Pennsylvania’s beer industry helps generate jobs in other related industries such as agriculture (1,699 jobs), business and personal services (10,953 jobs), construction (465 jobs), finance, insurance and real estate (3,289 jobs), general manufacturing (3,099 jobs), retail (2,572 jobs), transportation and communication (2,542 jobs), travel and entertainment (2,870 jobs), wholesale (1,251 jobs) and other (929 jobs). Some or all of these job numbers would be significantly impacted without the growth of Pennsylvania’s brewing and beer distribution industries.
Pennsylvania has 558 beer distributors and 189 breweries. The industry generated over $625 million in federal taxes, and more than $414 million in state taxes, totaling $1,040,308,000 in 2014 alone. Pursuant to the Beer Serves America study, taxes account for almost 36% of beer’s retail price (e.g., a $2 beer includes 71 cents in taxes). Pennsylvania state and local governments, as well as the federal government, all collect a number of special taxes on the sale and production of beer. Retail, distribution and brewing companies, and their employees, must also pay personal and business taxes, as with other industries, which amounts to 29-cents for every dollar spent on beer.
While the economic impact of beer in Pennsylvania is positive, it is no secret that the Commonwealth still has some of the most archaic liquor laws in the country. However, that is slowly changing.
Recently, the Pennsylvania Senate passed House Bill 189, which amends the Pennsylvania Liquor Code to permit wine producers to ship wine directly to Commonwealth residents, and also reduces the special liquor order markup for licensees. Wine-makers must obtain a direct shipper’s license before making shipments, and the license must be renewed annually. Once they have secured the license, the licensee may ship an unlimited amount of wine to any Pennsylvania resident who is over the age of 21 for their personal use. Of course, the buyer’s age must be verified before shipment.
Additionally, direct wine shippers must agree to collect the Commonwealth’s 6% sales tax, any local sales taxes imposed by counties of the second class or cities of the first class, its 18% liquor tax and shipping charges on all products shipped into and within the Commonwealth. The markup on Special Liquor Orders is reduced from 30% to 10%, which means restaurants and bars will pay less when ordering products that are unavailable at the state store.
In another positive step forward, earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) declared that beer distributors are permitted to sell 12-packs of beer. The distributors are required to purchase the beer in 12-pack shipments in order to resell to the consumer in that quantity. This was a huge win for Pennsylvania distributors, who had previously been limited to selling beer by the case or keg. While the Pennsylvania Liquor Code permits bars, supermarkets and convenience stores to sell beers by the 6-pack, it tends to be sold at higher costs than those charged by distributors.
Wawa, one of Pennsylvania’s largest (and most beloved) convenience stores chains, may soon be entering the retail beer market. It is likely that the PLCB will soon be deciding whether to approve a retail license for a Wawa in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. In early August, the Concord Township Board of Supervisors approved beer sales at the Wawa located at 721 Naamans Creek Road in Chadds Ford. If approved, customers will be able to purchase up to two 6-packs of beer at the Delaware County store. The Naamans Creek Road store is the first Wawa in Pennsylvania to be approved for beer sales. Beer sales at Wawa could mean a whole new and vast market for local beer brewers. If Wawa chooses to expand the sale of beer to its other locations, local brewers could put their product in front of a large new set of consumers.
It looks like the beer industry’s valuable contribution to Pennsylvania’s economy is continuing through 2015. Help keep it going by stepping out and supporting your local retailers, distributors, breweries and brew pubs.
October 27, 2015
Officials Recall Local Peanut Butter Product; Say Company Did Not Have Valid License
PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Health is issuing a voluntary recall for a local peanut butter product.According to the RI Dept. of Health, Hank’s Protein Plus Peanut Butter, which is located in Pawtucket, is being recalled because the company was operating without a RI food business license.The company stopped production of all products, effective October 20, 2015.To date, the Health Department has not received any reports of illnesses in connection with the product – though officials say the peanut butter should not be consumed.http://wpri.com/2015/10/22/officials-pawtucket-based-peanut-butter-recalled-company-did-not-possess-valid-license/ More...
October 27, 2015
Columbus Repeals Business Licenses After State Mandate
The Town of Columbus is out approximately $3,500 a year after the state took away municipalities’ ability to charge privilege license taxes, or business licenses.
Columbus Town Council met Thursday, Oct. 15 and approved repealing its business licenses.
Columbus collected the licenses annually, with 112 businesses in 2011, 115 businesses in 2012 and 116 businesses in 2013, according to town records.
The state’s repeal took effect on July 1, 2015.
Out of North Carolina’s 500 cities, 300 of them collected the privilege taxes.
Gov. Pat McCrory signed the legislation last year repealing local business taxes, while municipalities, particularly large cities, asked for long-term solutions to replace the revenue to avoid raising other taxes or cutting services.
While smaller towns, like Columbus, are not looking at a major revenue loss from the repeal, cities and towns across the state combined could lose more than $62 million in total revenues from the state’s repeal.
McCrory said last year he will work with municipalities and the N.C. General Assembly to seek a long-term resolution, but also said there’s no debate that the privilege tax has been applied inconsistently.
The privilege licenses are paid to towns and cities for the “privilege” of doing business in municipalities. Similar businesses in nearby towns often ended up paying very different business licenses for the same service because of how each city or town calculated its licenses.
The N.C. House originally set a cap of $100 per business per year, but the N.C. Senate’s proposal, which prevailed, repealed the tax altogether as of July 1, 2015.
The City of Saluda is the only other town in Polk County that collects business licenses, which will also have to be repealed.
The Town of Tryon does not collect business licenses.
October 27, 2015
Denver Drops Rule Making Pot Shops Post Bonds To Guarantee Tax Payment
Denver marijuana retailers no longer have to post bonds guaranteeing they'll pay their taxes, a regulation that some in the industry say had become a fatal hindrance.
Denver City Council this week voted unanimously to scrub the surety bond requirement from the city's marijuana code.
Medical and recreational pot shops were among a handful of businesses, including pawn brokers and parking lot operators, that had to obtain a surety bond to operate in the city.
The bonds are intended to help ensure that the city can collect sales and use tax revenue from businesses that may not have a storefront or a lot of fixed assets. Typically, if a business defaults on its tax bills, the city can seize and sell its assets to cover the missed payments.
"We're not going to seize a bunch of marijuana," said Dan Rowland, a spokesman for the city's Office of Marijuana Policy. "That's not something we can liquefy."
The bonds have been required since retail sale of medical marijuana was authorized six years ago. During that period, the Department of Treasury has not tapped a single pot shop surety bond to recoup unpaid taxes, Rowland said.
But more importantly, the surety market has dried up for marijuana businesses. Some surety writers cut off marijuana policies midterm and ceased offering new bonds after two federal racketeering lawsuits were filed against Colorado marijuana firms and businesses that worked with them, Rowland said.
Josh Kayser, founder and CEO of SuretyBonds.com, said all of his surety writers stopped issuing marijuana bonds after the lawsuits were filed.
Marijuana Industry Group executive director Michael Elliot said the lawsuits are scaring away many ancillary businesses — banks, insurers and now the bonding companies — creating more difficulties for legal marijuana operations as they tried to meet a "technicality."
"What we're seeing there, it's been a pretty useless rule. We've never once used these bonds," he said.
Without a bond, a retailer couldn't get a business license, he said. "It's a fatal issue for a marijuana business."
The bond logjam put more than 400 medical and recreational marijuana licenses at risk for nonrenewal.
"This wasn't a case of bad business practices," Rowland said. "These are largely really good businesses in good standing with the city and we want their licenses to be renewed."
Dumping the rule is welcome, especially for operators that hold multiple licenses, said Dean Heizer, chief legal strategist for LivWell, one of Colorado's largest marijuana growers and retailers.
Medical pot shops needed to post a $5,000 bond, and recreational stores needed $20,000.
"It's a new and growing business," Heizer said. "At least from our perspective, if you've been a responsible taxpayer in the past, ... there's no need for this additional impediment."
Surety bonds are still required by the state. Industry officials hope to address the issue at the legislature early next year, Elliott said.
October 22, 2015
Georgetown Raises Liquor License Fees
GEORGETOWN — The city council voted to increase liquor license fees from $450 to $500. Mayor Pro-Tem Darin Readnour said the fee was last increased in 1976.
The fee hike affects eight Georgetown establishments.
In other business, the council voted to purchase a refurbished hand-held water-meter reader from HD Water Supply of Washington for $2,560.
Alderman Darren Alexander said the reader will allow two city workers to collect information from all 1,700 water meters in the city in about 45 minutes. The refurbished reader will replace an older, non-functioning one.
October 22, 2015
Greenville Looks To Lure Corporate Headquarters With License Tax Change
In an effort to attract more business, specifically corporate headquarters, the city of Greenville is changing its business license tax structure.
The change includes moving those businesses classified as “corporate headquarters” to a different tax code and capping the amount of gross revenue sales subject to the business tax at $20 million.
Kai Nelson, director of the office of management and budget for the city of Greenville, said there are between 8,000 and 10,000 businesses engaging in the city limits. Of those, six are classified under the North American Industry Classification System as being “corporate headquarters. He said because the information is proprietary, he was not able to divulge what those six companies were.
The North American Industry Classification System is a uniform business classification system established by the U.S. Census Bureau. Under the system, businesses are assigned a classification code. The city of Greenville has established 15 different rate codes for its business license tax structure.
“We take the thousands upon thousands of these codes, and we group them together,” Nelson said. “We condensed all of them into 15.”
Most businesses are classified by the type of business they have. For example, there is a classification for retail and wholesale, another class for various levels of construction and so on. Corporate headquarters was previously under the city’s rate code 3. Under that classification there was no cap on the amount of gross revenue sales were used to compute the yearly business license tax. Nelson said the average business license tax fee is around one-fifth of 1% of gross sales, especially for restaurants.
Under city ordinance, a corporate headquarters has to have responsibility for an area, including South Carolina and at least two other states.
“There are a handful of businesses that qualify as NAICS corporate headquarters,” Nelson said. “Generally, it is where a majority of the management and legal are located.”
Under the previous rate code, a business qualifying as a “corporate headquarters” with gross sales of $200 million would have a business license tax of $218,818 per year, or $0.001 of every $10 made. Under the new classification and cap, that same business would have a yearly license fee of $24,036.
“The city wanted to create a more business-friendly environment for companies looking to come here, and that was basically been achieved with the cap,” Nelson said. “Out of the handful of corporate headquarters we have, there are a few that approach the cap, which also creates a business-friendly environment for those that are here already.”
What others do
The cities of Spartanburg and Anderson each handle their business license taxes differently.
In Spartanburg, Assistant City Manager Chris Story said they are looking to make changes to their ordinance to come more in line with NAICS classifications.
“There is an effort underway here to make some changes to our ordinances and policies to go to the NAICS coding,” Story said. “We have a revision of the ordinance in the preparatory stages, and I don’t know when it will go to the council.”
He said there are “very, very few” businesses in Spartanburg that qualify under the “corporate headquarters” classification. One, Denny’s, does and Story said their fee is “nominal” and not based on gross revenue.
“Part of the discussion to update the ordinance would be to decide how best to handle those that fall under the classification,” Story said.
In Anderson, business license administrator Ken Mullinax said corporate offices fall under rate code 7. That has a base fee of $55 and $2.55 for every $1,000 in gross revenue over $2,000. There is no cap on gross revenues subject to the license tax.
“We have very few offices in Anderson that fall under that corporate office category,” Mullinax said. “We wouldn’t have a cap because we don’t have anyone anywhere close to that.”
In Greenville County, companies pay a rate of $15 plus $1 for each $1,000 of capital stock and paid-in or capital surplus, according to the county’s website. For multistate corporations, the license tax is “determined by apportionment in the same manner employed in computing apportioned corporate income.”
A piece of the pie
Under S.C. law, local municipalities can generate revenue through property taxes and business license fees.
In Greenville, the business license fee is put into the city’s general fund. Nelson said 42.9% of the general fund budget comes from licenses and permits. He said 87% of the general fund comes from property taxes, permits and licenses.
He said 44.5% of the city’s general fund goes to police and fire protection.
Nelson said the change in structure and cap on gross revenue sales subject to tax won’t have a significant impact on the city’s general fund budget. Primarily because none of the six businesses classified as “corporate headquarters” are close to approaching the $20 million cap.
Cities and counties across South Carolina have differences in the percentage of revenue coming from business taxes and property taxes.
“In the aggregate, you probably won’t see much of a difference in the percentage. Meaning four-fifths of municipal government revenue comes from property taxes and business license fees,” Nelson said. “What you will see is a difference in the percentage of property taxes and licenses.
“Some municipalities choose to rely more on the business license taxes over the property taxes. There is still consistency in the overall, but how they are divided can be remarkably different.”
Mullinax said approximately 30% of the city of Anderson’s budgeted revenue comes from its business license taxes.
Bringing in business
Nelson said the reason for the change in taxes is to make Greenville more attractive for corporate headquarters to relocate to.
“I think the issue is one of competitiveness,” Nelson said. “When a business has a choice and the business’ choice is very sensitive to cost, I can talk about something that impacts gross revenue to the tune of one-tenth of 1%, but, these business lines are tough and having this cap can make the difference between a business coming here or going somewhere else.”
That is a main reason why the city of Spartanburg is in the midst of revamping its business license tax ordinance.
"It’s a serious issue for all cities to consider,” Story said. “The impact of those costs on business location decisions are a factor. Plus the simplicity, we think we can make it easier for the payer and for us.”
Mullinax agreed that Greenville’s move to cap gross revenue sales subject to business license taxes is the right way to go.
“You don’t want to discourage businesses from coming, and that is really smart,” Mullinax said. “I hope we get to point where we have that problem, but we aren’t there yet.”
October 22, 2015
Cheers! New Liquor Licenses Allow New Kinds Of Businesses
New liquor license fees to be considered Tuesday by the Hawaii County Council Finance Committee will usher in new opportunities for county businesses, officials say.
A new “small craft producer pub” license paves the way for a unique business that has been approved by the Liquor Commission and is in the process of getting final permits. Company Rum LLC, set to become the island’s first licensed distillery, will use fresh sugarcane juice to create French-style rums at its Kawaihae location.
The sugarcane is being grown at Kahua Ranch on Kohala Mountain Road, said Steve Jefferson, one of the distillery founders.
Jefferson is particularly excited about how the selection of 43 varieties of sugarcane came about. The varieties, so-called “canoe” plants that came to the island with the Polynesian settlers, range in color from pinkish purples to striped navy blue and produce flavors ranging from the most delicate sugar syrup to lemongrass, honey and molasses, he said.
“All are totally unique flavors,” Jefferson said.
If all goes as planned, the company will have farm tours showcasing the varieties of sugarcane and how it’s processed, in addition to tours and tastings at the distillery itself, he said. While sugarcane production for sugar has gone the way of the plantations because of an inability to compete with foreign markets, a specialized use such as this will keep the tradition alive, at least in spirit.
The small craft producer pub license will cost $1,000 annually.
The county will also create a condominium hotel license to conform with changes to state law, although there are no such facilities currently on the Big Island, said Steve Morifuji, administrative officer for the county Department of Liquor Control. That license costs $1,200 annually.
There’s also an increase in the license fee for caterers, from $120 to $600. While that looks like a steep increase, the license is being changed to accommodate food caterers who don’t have a stand-alone liquor establishment, allowing them to also sell liquor at approved events, provided at least 30 percent of the sales come from food.
In another case, however, the county is catching up with a 2012 state law that allowed the island’s only winery to make a go of it.
Before the state license for a winery was created, Volcano Winery operated under a wine manufacturing permit. That permit allowed the sale of wine in bottles, but forbid the sale of glasses of wine for wine tastings.
Volcano Winery owner Delwin Bothof found himself at the end of a losing proposition, with tour companies bringing busloads of cruise ship passengers to his establishment for free wine tastings. Because the cruise ships bar passengers from bringing bottled wine onto the ship, sales were lackluster, despite the consumption of a lot of free wine.
Bothof has nothing but praise for the county Department of Liquor Control.
“These guys are really, really helpful,” he said.
Bothof says he has no problem paying the higher license fee, which went up from $400 for a wine manufacturer to $1,000 for a winery.
The annual fees are in addition to a percent of sales that liquor establishments pay annually. The money goes to the Department of Liquor Control to pay its expenses for administration and enforcement.
The council’s Finance Committee meets at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday in Hilo. The public can participate there, or by videoconference from the West Hawaii Civic Center, the Waimea council office, the conference room adjacent to the Hisaoka gym in Kapaau, the Naalehu state office building and the Pahoa neighborhood facility.
October 16, 2015
Las Vegas, NV
Fantasy Sports Sites Now Need A License In Nevada
LAS VEGAS — Nevada regulators ordered daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel to shut down Thursday, saying the hard-to-miss sites that have flooded the marketplace with TV and Internet ads cannot operate in the state without a gambling license.
The decision comes amid growing backlash by regulators and investigators, including New York’s attorney general, after it was revealed employees often played on competing sites, raising questions about possible insider information being used to win.
Nevada regulators govern the country’s main gambling hub in Las Vegas, and their actions could hold sway with regulators elsewhere.
Participants on the unregulated sites can compete in games involving professional or college sports, paying an entry fee that goes into a larger pool. They try to assemble teams that earn the most points based on real-life stats in a given period with a certain percentage of top finishers earning a payout.
Entry fees on DraftKings range from 25 cents to more than $5,000. Some prizes top $1 million.
Nevada’s decision doesn’t appear to affect season-long fantasy sports, long-popular online and in office pools. Daily fantasy sports is similar, but with the contests limited to a day in most cases, not stretched out over a season.
DraftKings and FanDuel say the sites provide games of skill and not chance and are therefore protected by the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which carved out a specific exemption allowing fantasy sports.
The distinction has been an important one for the industry, which has dodged the type of regulation that governs traditional casinos and sports books. Avoiding being labeled “gambling” also has made the contests palatable to professional sports leagues that have partnered with the sites or, in some cases, invested directly.
Until now, the sites have been available in all but five states where their legality has been called into question.
“If you’re licensed in Nevada, you’re good to go,” said A.G. Burnett, chief of the state’s Gaming Control Board. That includes traditional sports books where gamblers generally wager on the outcome of a given game.
No daily fantasy sports sites are licensed in Nevada, but the sites can apply for licenses.
A notice issued by the Gaming Control Board said the sites must stop offering their contests to Nevada residents immediately, and until they are granted a license. Operators face felony fines and 10 years in prison for running an illegal gambling site. The board said it worked with the state attorney general’s office for several months to look into the sites’ legality.
Joe Asher, CEO of sports book William Hill’s U.S. operations, has repeatedly said daily fantasy sports is gambling and should be treated like all other legal gambling operations. He said the board’s decision speaks for itself.
“It shouldn’t come as a surprise,” Asher said.
Spokesmen for DraftKings and FanDuel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Seth Young, chief operating officer of the much smaller site StarFantasy, said he took it a step further than most, commissioning the same lab that tests casino slot machines to determine if the site’s games were skill-based. Young said the tests confirmed it, but “it doesn’t mean we can disrespect state laws.” He noted his company pulled out of 10 states before Thursday, to stay on the right side of the law. His site pulled the plug in Nevada, too.
“We saw regulation on the horizon,” he said. He said the company plans to get licensed in Nevada and hopes to license its own technology to other companies wanting to do business there.
The American Gaming Association, which is doing its own review of the legality of daily fantasy sports, said it appreciated the Nevada board’s determination. It provides clarity, “as well as a roadmap for daily fantasy companies and casinos to provide popular fantasy sports within Nevada borders,” the association said.
Daniel Wallach, a sports law expert from Florida, said the board’s decision is not going to “cause an extinction of fantasy sports from Nevada, forevermore.” But it confirmed what Wallach and other observers familiar with the gambling industry have long contended.
“Fantasy is a form of gambling that should be licensed just like sports betting, just like any other form of gambling,” he said.
October 15, 2015
October 15, 2015
Columbus Businesses Consider Applying for License to Sell Pot
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The election is 3 weeks away, but 10TV has learned some businesses are already beginning the process to sell marijuana.
Voters will decide on November 3rd whether to legalize marijuana in Ohio.
If approved marijuana would be grown on 10 preapproved sites across the state. It would be sold in stores through a special permit.
ResponsibleOhio, the group behind Issue 3, says more than 4,000 people are already asking for more information about this permit. Some businesses are still considering if selling pot is something they want to do.
"I pride my store on locally made items," The Hippie Hut Owner Scott Sanzoni said.
At 1359 North High Street you'll find a little bit of everything.
"We've got all your smoking accessories, we do custom t-shirts, stickers, banners," Sanzoni said.
Inside The Hippie Hut, Scott Sanzoni and his pup Miss Eleanor are closing up shop for the night. Sanzoni says business has been good on his Short North corner, but come November he could be fighting for customers.
"I disagree with it. I don't like the angle that's being taken with it. But with that being said, a step forward, is a step forward. I think if it does pass, you know us as retailers are going to be forced to do something," Sanzoni said.
The group ResponsibleOhio is behind the idea. If passed, the group says anyone who wants to sell, manufacture, process or grow pot has to apply for a license.
ResponsibleOhio says it has received more than 4,000 requests for license information already.
"If it were to pass, yes I would apply for a license," Sanzoni says.
Sanzoni says his hut could take a hit if he didn't.
"I think by not doing so there's going to be other upstart businesses that are going to apply for the license, and they're going to be selling it. And if I don't I won't, and that could cost me."
None of this happens if Issue 3 fails. ResponsibleOhio says if it passes, the state would have to form a marijuana control commission.
The commission would approve licenses for new and existing businesses.
October 14, 2015
Nevada City, CA
NC Council Adopts Simplified Business License Tax Methodolgy
Through a vote of 5-0, the Nevada City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance during a meeting on Wednesday night to repeal the existing business license tax measure in order to lower the cost of application and to improve customer service, said city officials.
“The current ordinance has more than 30 methodologies, which is a lot for many cities, much less a smaller city like Nevada City,” said City Manager Mark Prestwich.
According to the city documents, the existing business license ordinance was approved 58 years ago. Rates have not been changed since 1993. In addition to the complicated structure, the legislation also included pro-rating and quarter payment options that increased the time required by city staff to process the license tax.
“I am happy with this,” said Mayor Jennifer Ray. She added that the outdated structure of the current ordinance needed changes.
The new ordinance will eliminate the pro-rating and quarter payment options. In addition, the tax rates would depend on how many employees a business has, said Prestwich.
For example, a business with 10 or more employees will be required to pay $150 annually. A business with nine or fewer employees will be paying $100 a year.
The rates will also be adjusted annually based on inflation and would be calculated using the consumer price index.
City officials said the rates would be placed on the ballot for the next municipal election in 2016 so voters will have a final say.
The simplified methodology would result in $10,000 to $13,000 additional annual revenue for the city, said Prestwich.
During Wednesday night’s meeting, the city council also approved a second reading of an ordinance to speed up the permitting procedures for small residential rooftop solar energy systems, which is a requirement put forth by the state.
The first reading, which was approved by the city council on Sept. 23, prompted concern from some council members “over the effect that unrestricted ministerial approval of such systems could have on the city’s historic buildings,” according to city documents.
Hal DeGraw, consulting city attorney, pointed out during the meeting that the ordinance only concerns residential rooftops, not business rooftops.
In addition, the state legislation made no exception to residential areas in regards to historical values.
To reduce adverse effects that might be caused by the ordinance, DeGraw integrated three checklist items for the review process, which will help evaluate businesses to make sure they are not degrading the historical values of the city buildings throughout their installation processes.
In order to be approved, the applicant has to prove that the system is designed and located as inconspicuously as possible, no larger than necessary, and of a style and color to blend in.
A reading of the checklist items will take place during the city council meeting on Oct. 28, DeGraw said.
October 14, 2015
Pender Alcohol Retailers Facing Tribal Tax Unsure Of Future
PENDER, Neb. | Four years ago, Rich and Jessica Frazey bought a convenience store that stands along one of two highways passing through Pender and began planning how to make Frazey's Food & Fuel more profitable.
But some of those plans are on hold while the Frazeys wait to see if the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether Pender businesses that sell alcohol are subject to an Omaha Tribe of Nebraska ordinance that would require them to buy a tribal liquor license and pay sales taxes to the tribe on top of what they already pay in state licensing fees and taxes.
"We would have to look at not having beer or liquor. I'm worried it's going to cripple our business," Jessica Frazey said of what would happen if the Supreme Court rules with previous courts that have said Pender sits within the Omaha Indian Reservation, thus giving the tribe authority to regulate the businesses and impose taxes.
The Frazeys have put off replacing the roof and floor in their store, not wanting to spend money on a business that they're not sure they could continue to operate if subject to more taxes and fees.
"It is not feasible," Frazey said of undertaking repairs amid the uncertainty. "We're literally a mom-and-pop gas station."
On Oct. 1, the Supreme Court granted certiorari, agreeing to hear the state of Nebraska's appeal of lower court rulings that said the sale of 50,000 acres of land on the western portion of the Omaha Reservation, an area in southwest Thurston County where Pender now sits, to white settlers in the 1880s did not change reservation boundaries.
When the court issues its ruling, it will end a legal battle now eight years long. More important to owners of establishments that sell alcohol in Pender, it likely will end the uncertainty of making business decisions while not knowing if they will be subject to tribal regulations.
"I'd kind of like to know what's going on," said Tom Welsh, owner of Welsh's Bar, which sits on Pender's Main Street.
In addition to beer and liquor sales, the bar serves food and has a popular pizza business. If Welsh ultimately must pay the tribal taxes, he'll face a decision on whether it's worth continuing to sell alcohol. Not only would he have to pay more taxes, but people in Pender also may choose to buy beer and liquor in neighboring towns off the reservation, such as Bancroft and Emerson, cutting into alcohol sales.
"If we have to quit selling alcohol, we will. We'll just go to strictly selling food," Welsh said. "We'll just have to wait and see. Hopefully we don't have to find out."
In 2006, the Omaha Tribe, which has its tribal offices on the other side of Thurston County in Macy, passed an alcohol ordinance requiring businesses that sell alcohol on the reservation to buy liquor licenses ranging from $500 to $1,500 annually. The ordinance also placed a 10 percent sales tax on all alcohol purchases. Those taxes and fees would be paid in addition to what retailers already must pay to state regulators.
"The initial thought was to initiate the license and work out the tax after that," said Maurice Johnson, Omaha Tribe of Nebraska attorney general. "We had never gotten to the point to where we would be able to work out how the tax would be applied."
Those discussions never took place because soon after the ordinance went into effect on Jan. 1, 2007, owners of seven Pender establishments, including Welsh, sued the tribe in U.S. District Court in Omaha, saying they were not subject to the ordinance because Pender is not on the reservation.
But in a 2014 decision, U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf said an 1882 act of Congress that opened land on the reservation for sale and settlement did not diminish the reservation. Kopf ruled that Congress had basically acted as a sales agent and held proceeds in trust for Omaha Tribe members but did not change reservation boundaries.
In May, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Kopf's ruling, affirming that all of Thurston County and a portion of Cuming County are within the Omaha Reservation. (In the 1860s, part of the Omaha Tribe's northern land in Thurston County was ceded to the Winnebago Tribe, which has its tribal offices in Winnebago.)
The Nebraska Attorney General's Office appealed the 8th Circuit ruling to the Supreme Court.
Gene Summerlin, a Lincoln attorney representing the Village of Pender, which is also a party in the lawsuit, said determining whether Pender is within the reservation is about more than alcohol taxes. If the tribe prevails, it opens up questions about enforcement of tribal regulations on a town populated mostly by white, nontribal members. The tribe could seek to require licenses for other types of business, Summerlin said.
"The dispute we're currently having involves alcohol but in reality goes far beyond that," he said.
Pender alcohol retailers are trying to figure their costs if the Supreme Court rules in the tribe's favor.
They currently pay for state liquor licenses that range from $100 to $300 annually. There's also a 5.5 percent sales tax and a 1 percent local sales tax Pender residents passed in 2008 to help pay for the legal expenses the village was incurring in this case. Pender has spent $770,000 so far on the case, village clerk Connie Miller said.
The tribe amended its ordinance in 2013. The cost of the liquor licenses remains the same, but the 10 percent sales tax has been changed to a rate, the ordinance says, that "shall be consistent with that of the prevailing base sales and use tax rate of the state ...."
Williams said the tribe would be willing to discuss that tax rate and how it would be collected with Pender retailers.
"We would enter into discussions with them," Williams said.
Since enacting the ordinance, Williams said, the tribe has granted licenses to a bar in Walthill and another in Rosalie, though it has put off collecting taxes until the lawsuit is resolved. The case has cost the tribe $1 million in legal fees, Williams said, plus the lost tax revenue, which the ordinance says is for the prevention and treatment of substance abuse on the reservation.
"It's certainly affected the tribe," Williams said of the lawsuit and tax collection delay.
In Pender, Welsh continues to operate as usual. He's concerned, he said, but there's not much he can do while waiting for a resolution. Arguments before the Supreme Court could take place as early as January or February, with an order sometime after that.
Whenever that ruling comes, Welsh said, he'll worry about what he's going to do.
"You just kind of go with the flow," he said. "Whatever happens, happens."
October 14, 2015
NYS Exposed: Is New York preventing some people from getting back to work sooner?
If your career requires you hold a license, New York State may be imposing some obstacles that will delay when you can get back to work.
Imagine that you are moving back to New York, but the state that’s been marketed as open for business is keeping you from starting your career. That is the situation Kate McCarthy is facing. McCarthy says she has felt powerless over the past months trying to get her massage therapy license in NY.
She showed News10NBC all the paperwork the state required, all of which she included in her application that she sent to the state. McCarthy says the state cashed her check and told her to hang tight for six weeks. Fast forward to four months – she is wondering why it is so hard to get an answer.
Kate McCarty can't use the massage table at her home to treat clients. "We've kept the door closed. We don't go in there very much."
Or at the place where she has a job lined up.
"The longer that she's not here, the longer she's not working, the more customers she's not exposed to and the harder it is to build a full-time practice," said Barbara Conti, Empire Therapeutic Massage Center.
It's all a result of a major delay in transferring McCarthy's massage therapy license from Utah to New York. When she moved home back in May, she applied for her New York State Massage Therapy license right away. But it was not a smooth transition.
"I felt pretty powerless, I was checking in with them I was calling them I was emailing them I was trying to go through the right avenues to push it along," said McCarthy. "I guess my paperwork moved to the bottom of the pile."
She says the state cashed her application check right away and told her to hang tight for six weeks. Fast forward to four months, she's wondering why it's so hard to get an answer. So what's the hold-up? We called the Office of Professions, the state agency reviewing the application. They told me they are looking into it, but didn't get a call back.
This is not a situation unique to McCarthy. According to a study done by Thumbtack.com, New York State was given an 'F' rating for ease of starting a business. So we turned to the state leaders that sit on the small business committee starting with Rich Funke in the state Senate.
Fath: "So here's a young lady that's trying to start a small business but being met by frustration. What's being done to fix this?"
Funke: "I'm not sure that there's anything to be done until we begin streamline the process of this relicensing of people."
Fath: "What do you mean by streamline?"
Funke: "We have $750,000 regulations on the books in the State of New York. Do we need that many regulations? Can we begin to work through some of these and see where some are overlapping others?"
It's not just regulations, the requirements are far stricter. In New York, massage therapists are required to have 1,000 education hours compared to neighboring Connecticut which has only 500 hours.
Fath: "Why is it so much harder to get a license here?"
Funke: "It just seems to be the way New York State is -- we think we're smarter than everyone else in some of these things. And again I don't think that we're open for business when people get mired in all this paperwork and regulations."
Meanwhile, McCarthy is missing out on time and money. She says, "To be met with such a delay and such a difficult transition, it made me feel like 'oh well maybe things aren't going to work out the way I thought I would, maybe I made a mistake, maybe I shouldn't be here.'"
If you want to weigh in in the subject, you can contact your local representative.
October 13, 2015
Columbia City Council Finance Committee Considers $100 Cap On Business License Fees
Columbia City Councilman Cameron Runyan is not waiting for re-election to fulfill one of his recent campaign promises.
The one-term at-large leader is fighting to reduce the cost of a business license fee in the city in an effort to keep businesses on this side of the Congaree River.
“We survived without taxing small businesses that are trying to put our people back to work in the city,” Runyan said. “We can flourish without it again in the future.”
Runyan, who chairs City Council’s finance committee, has been working out the details to cap the license fee for all businesses to $100. Owners currently pay a fee based on the type of business they operate and the gross income of the business.
The base range for the license can run from as little as $5.50 to as much as $180.
License fees and permit fees combined are expected to generate a little more than $36 million this year, according to the city’s budget figures. That total is a 20 percent increase from 2014, when roughly $30 million was collected. Revenues have increased more than $3 million between 2011 and 2014.
This year’s fees represent 28 percent of the budget.
Runyan’s plan calls for a five-year reduction of business license fees starting in 2016. The city would lose nearly $2 million each year and would go from $10.7 million in collected fees in the first year to to an estimated $793,295 in 2020, according to the Business License Division.
Runyan said audited budgets show the city still would have seen an average of $2.5 million in surplus revenue in the past three years if they had reduced the business license fee. He said those dollars could increase as more businesses open.
“My calculations say if you eliminate the business license tax today, you can put 500 people back to work in the city of Columbia,” he said.
Runyan also has proposed eliminating the Municipal Association of South Carolina’s ability to collect a business license tax for the city on insurance companies operating in Columbia.
The association streamlines the licensing process for insurance companies across the state and sets collection rates and dates through its insurance tax collection program. Most municipalities, including Columbia, use the program.
Money collected by the association is given to the municipality, but the association also takes 4 percent in the form of administrations fees, software and legal expenses under the program, said Roger Myers, Columbia’s business license director.
Runyan has made cutting taxes a priority since announcing his campaign for re-election two weeks ago. He signed the “No New Tax Pledge” by the South Carolina Association of Taxpayers last week. His plan resembles a bill currently in the state legislature requiring municipalities to charge no more than $100 in license fees on businesses.
Runyan classifies the license fee as a tax on businesses and said the licenses prevent companies from doing business in the city of Columbia.
“If you go up North Main Street you don’t see businesses up there; you see dirt lots,” he said. “Once you get out of the sphere of the university, and you get into an area where commerce has to stand on its own, it’s increasingly difficult to do that. That’s small businesses that we’re pushing out.”
Justin Evans, former owner of the Gamecock Stop that used to be at the corner of Rosewood Drive and Woodrow Street, said he had to shut his doors in October 2012 partly because of the increases in licensing fees.
“Two employees are now on unemployment that weren’t before and had jobs,” Evans said. “Fixing the business license tax would make a big difference.”
Runyan has to convince his fellow committee members, Councilmen Brian Newman and Sam Davis, to endorse his plan. Newman and Davis stated in Monday’s meeting that it was important to balance the impact on the budget and providing services to citizens while maintaining a pro-business environment.
“I’m not going to say that our fees need to be as low as other municipalities A smaller town has smaller fees, but there are benefits to living in a big city like Columbia,” Newman said. “We want to do all we can to make sure we’re a business-friendly community.”
October 13, 2015
Dispute Over Business License Results In Arrest Of Ambulance Owner
RUSSELLVILLE — The owner of Pleasant Bay Ambulance service picked up a misdemeanor summons Friday and was released on his own recognizance after being charged with operating an ambulance service without a city permit.
Accompanied by his attorney, Billy Underwood of Tuscumbia, Elzie Malone, who is also the Franklin County Coroner, left a courtroom hearing, walked to Russellville Police Department and picked up the summons.
He and Underwood left the Police Department, walked a block down Jackson Avenue to the Russellville City Hall and attempted to get a business license from the city, which was denied.
Underwood was notified Thursday by Russellville officials that the misdemeanor summons for Malone’s arrest had been issued. The charge of operating without a business license is a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
“He has a state license to operate an ambulance service, so I don’t understand why the city will not issue him one,” Underwood said.
“Our position is simple,” said Russellville city attorney Danny McDowell. “In order for an ambulance service to do business in the city of Russellville, private or otherwise, it has to be licensed. In order to be licensed, (the ambulance service) has to have the contract.”
City officials said Russellville, Red Bay and Franklin County, entered into contract with Shoals Ambulance last year to provide all emergency medical services for the three entities.
Underwood doesn’t believe the entities can be issued an “exclusivity contract.”
“They are relying on an (Alabama) attorney general’s opinion from 1997 that says a county can do an exclusivity contract,” Underwood said. “But that opinion was framed on doing (the exclusivity contract) for 911 on emergency calls.
“And that’s fine for emergency calls. Elzie is wanting to do non-emergency transports.”
According to neighboring entities, Colbert County is a non-contractual county, but the city of Muscle Shoals has exclusive contract with Helen Keller Ambulance service.
County officials said Keller Ambulance has a mutual aid agreement with Cherokee Rescue Squad to provide ambulance service from Alabama 247 to the Mississippi line.
In Lauderdale County, 911 Director George Grabryan has an exclusive contract with Shoals Ambulance Service to provide emergency medical service in the city of Florence and the entire county.
“I think it is a sorry state of affairs when we are turned into a socialistic government having only one ambulance transporting people back and forth to the hospital,” Underwood said.
He said as far as he is concerned, Pleasant Bay Ambulance service is still in business, even though the company doesn’t have a business license from the city of Russellville.
“He has a state license and has ... other certification needed,” Underwood said. “He has passed the same state testing and certification on his ambulance that all other counties require. And the state recognizes that and he has the required liability insurance coverage. The city should give him a license.”
Underwood said he plans to ask for a new municipal judge and prosecutor to hear the case against Malone because of conflicts with the current judge and prosecutor.
He said Roger Bedford, who is the Russellville municipal judge, represents Red Bay and Franklin County and wrote the EMS contract along with McDowell. The city prosecutor is Brian Hamilton who is in partnership with McDowell.
A date for the hearing has not been set.
October 12, 2015
Gonzales man booked, bar closed, for operating since March without a liquor license
A Gonzales man was arrested Tuesday for operating a bar without a valid state alcohol permit, according to the state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control.
Tommy Neal was booked into the Ascension Parish Jail on 210 counts of operating without a permit, and his business, Weber City Bar, at 42283 Weber City Road, was closed by ATC agents, with the assistance of Ascension Parish sheriff’s deputies, according to an ATC report.
An ATC agent who visited the business recently, following a complaint to the agency, learned that Neal had been operating the business since March 2015 but hadn’t gotten a state alcohol permit, the agency report says.
October 7, 2015
Rochester Hills, MI
Liquor Licensing Ordinance Allowing More Local Oversight Goes Into Effect In Rochester Hills
A changed liquor licensing ordinance went into effect Monday in Rochester Hills, allowing for more oversight into which restaurants, bars and taverns bring licenses into the city, officials said.
Liquor licensing is overseen by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission, but a recent change in law amended the process so the commission has to contact local communities when a business’ license is approved, transferred or otherwise.
The Rochester Hills ordinance amendment provides more notice to local officials when a business applies for a license, officials said. The ordinance is a companion to a recently adopted zoning ordinance amendment that requires conditional land use approval for alcoholic beverage sales at a restaurant, bar, or tavern.
The amendment will also:
• Require City Council approval of on-premises liquor licenses and license transfers, and
• Add non-payment of taxes and other obligations as a factor in officials’ consideration of an application.
Other communities in Oakland have enacted similar ordinance changes in recent years, including Bloomfield Township, said Rochester Hills Deputy Clerk Leanne Scott.
“It’s really for local knowledge of who in your city has a license. The state notifies us after the fact, but this allows government to be proactive,” said Scott.
It also will help local law enforcement plan for which areas may need extra patrols moving forward, City Clerk Tina Barton has said.
A committee was formed last year to make recommendations on annual inspections of city businesses carrying licenses, license applications and permit requests.
“It’s not just a control factor,” Barton said in March. “We’re not trying to strong arm (businesses). If we don’t know until after the fact (who has a license), police may not know which places may need more attention.”
Liquor licenses are approved based on a community’s population size and typically transfer between businesses during a change of ownership. However, existing licenses can be brought into the city with the relocation of a business.
Scott said Rochester Hills currently has no licenses available.
According to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission, there are 86 active liquor licenses — which can include bars, restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores and other businesses — in Rochester Hills.