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.
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.
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.
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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.
October 2, 2015
Cullman County Business Licenses Due In October
It’s time for business owners to renew their annual Cullman County licenses.
Business licenses are due by Oct. 31 and will be delinquent Nov. 1, said Cullman County Probate Judge Tammy Brown. Reminder notices have been mailed out, and those who do not renew their business licenses by the deadline will face a penalty of 15 percent of the total license cost plus interest which is calculated daily, she said.
The cost of the business license is based on what kind of business it is and where it is located in the county, Brown said. Licenses purchased in October are good through Sept. 30, 2016.
County business licenses can be purchased by mail or by visiting the probate office on the first floor of the Cullman County Courthouse. Probate office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Licenses can also be purchased at the probate office’s three satellite offices: Dodge City Town Hall, Hanceville City Hall or the Baileyton sheriff’s substation.
Brown encouraged business owners to bring their notices with them when renewing in person or include the notice if renewing by mail. A $2 mail fee must be included when renewing businesses by mail. Required business permits, including health food permits, must be presented at the time of purchase or mailed with the renewal notice.
Brown also advised business owners who do business in cities like Cullman, Good Hope and Hanceville to check with municipalities to see if they need to obtain an additional city business license.
Certain businesses must have permits before obtaining the license, she said.. For example, a store or restaurant that has perishable items must provide a health food permit at the time of renewal or upon the first issuance of the business license. A copy of the health food permit may be mailed with your renewal notice. Examples of various types of business license are: auctioneer, automobile dealer, contractor, gasoline stations, photographers and restaurants.
A recent law also requires applicants provide Social Security numbers for individuals or the Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) for other business entities. Businesses without a FEIN can visit the Internal Revenue Service’s website at http://www.irs.gov or contact the Federal Government at 1-800-829-3676 to obtain the required number.
For more information contact the Cullman County Probate Office at 256-775-4802 or 256-775-480
September 21, 2015
Bluffton Police Arrest Nine In Night Club Raid
Nine people were arrested Saturday after the Bluffton Police Department and S.C. Law Enforcement Division searched a Bluffton nightclub on suspicion of operating without a business license.
At 12:35 am, the Bluffton Police department, assisted by SLED, executed a search warrant on Burroughs Bar and Grill Night Club on Persimmon Street, according to a department news release. Police said investigators had learned, after investigating a fight Sept. 17, that the night club was operating, charging admission and serving alcoholic beverages without a business license and alcohol permit.
Owner Keith Fernandez was cited for operating without a business license, unlawful manufacture, possession and storage of alcoholic beverages, and unlawful carry of a firearm on a liquor premises. Employees Michael Horowitz, Carlos Jimenez and Valerie Mora-Perez also were cited for operating without a permit.
Leonard Brown Sr. was cited for interference with law enforcement. Thomas Bush was cited for simple possession of marijuana, unlawful carry of a firearm on a liquor premises and trafficking heroin, which is pending a lab test.
Leonard Brown Jr. was cited for unlawful carry of a firearm and felony possession of a firearm. Terrence Brown Jr. was cited for interference with law enforcement. Jermaine Johnson was cited for disorderly conduct.
Police said they seized four guns — two Glocks, a Smith & Wesson and a Springfield — along with 59 rounds of ammunition, 610 bottles of illegal alcoholic beverages, 0.16 grams of suspected heroin and $260 cash from the door cover charges.
Eleven citations were issued, and three weapons warrants were issued and served, with one drug warrant pending.
The investigation is ongoing and police said additional charges are possible.
September 21, 2015
Chicago Food Cart Licensing Ordinance Clears Committee
A Chicago City Council committee approved an ordinance Wednesday that would legalize and license food cart vendors who sell cut fruit, tamales and other food items.
Ald. Roberto Maldonado's (26th) proposed food cart ordinance, which passed the License Committee, now goes to the full council for consideration.
There are already some 2,000 food cart vendors in the city, according to estimates.
Whole fruits and vegetables and frozen deserts can currently be sold legally from food carts.
Under the proposed ordinance, food cart vendors who sell cooked food or cut fruits or vegetables would have to get approval from the city's Health Department, obtain a $350 city license and pay sales tax.
September 17, 2015
Covington Restaurants Can Now Sell Alcohol Near Churches And Schools
Restaurants in Covington that are adjacent to churches and schools will be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages under an ordinance approved by the City Council Tuesday night (Sept. 15). The council's unanimous vote on the ordinance means the city's regulations now mirror those in New Orleans, which exempt restaurants from the state law designed to prohibit bars from operating within 300 feet of schools and churches.
Liquor license regulations in Covington already provided an exemption for restaurants in the city's downtown area, allowing restaurants such as Ox Lot 9 in the Southern Hotel to operate directly across the street from a church. The council action extends that exemption to restaurants throughout the city.
Officials said the law that prohibits the selling of alcoholic beverages within a 300-foot radius or churches and schools was designed to apply to free-standing bars and taverns. The fact that it also applied to restaurants wanting to apply for a license to sell alcohol could potentially create problems for eateries struggling to make a go of it, they said.
"It's hard enough to make it in the restaurant business," Councilman Rick Smith said announcing his support of the change.
Bars and restaurants must obtain permits from both the state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control and local governing authorities to serve alcohol. Unless otherwise superseded by local ordinances, the 300-foot rule applies in the issuance of both licenses, city officials have said.
The state ATC was aware of the city's desire to pass the ordinance and has already issued a temporary liquor license to Smoke BBQ, a Covington restaurant outside the historic district in anticipation of the new regulation, officials said.
September 11, 2015
Gambling Officials Fine Greektown Casino For Past Violations
DETROIT (AP) - Greektown Casino LLC has been ordered by the Michigan Gaming Control Board to pay nearly $530,000 in fines related to 25 violations under its previous ownership and management.
State gambling officials say Tuesday that the violations were acknowledged by the Detroit casino and occurred between 2010 and 2014 when it was owned by Greektown Superholdings, Inc.
Violations included failing to report a land swap deal and paying a broker fee to a real estate firm without a Gaming Control Board-issued license. The land swap violation's fine was $150,000.
State gambling regulators in 2013 approved the casino's sale to Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans owner Dan Gilbert.
Greektown Casino-Hotel Vice-Chair Matt Cullen says the casino worked with the Gaming Control Board "to fully understand and resolve the inherited matters."
This story has been corrected to show the fines against Greektown Casino LLC were announced Tuesday, not Monday.
September 9, 2015
San Francisco, CA
Licensing Requirements Top Survey Of Concerns For Small Businesses
The small business website Thumbtack.com surveyed 17,633 small business owners across the United States and asked them about the friendliness of their states and cities toward small business. Jon Lieber, Thumbtack’s chief economist, joined me for an interview to discuss those surveyed and the results.
“This is a population of very small service providers, so 90 percent have five or fewer employees,” Lieber says. “These are people who are making a living by running a small business so these small changes in policy can make a huge difference to them.”
Lieber added that they do not have a lot of help complying with the rules. “They don’t have a team of lawyers that can help them understand how to renew their license or how to do their taxes.”
They also don’t “have a deep familiarity with the political process,” Lieber added, “or [with] the politicians who help make the rules.”
“These people just don’t have access,” he continued. “They aren’t frequently heard from. They don’t have a trade organization speaking for them. And it’s just very difficult to get their voices heard.” That, Lieber explains, is one of the benefits of this survey. It gives them an opportunity to be heard.
The survey is designed to capture the business owner’s perception of what makes for a friendly state and local government, and what does not.
Licensing is one of the most pernicious. Of the small businesses surveyed, “a lot of them are in fields where they are required to hold a license,” Lieber said. “The presence and difficulty of licensing rules is, nationally, one of the biggest things that either frustrate or help a government become friendlier to small business.”
Lieber pointed to recent data from the Federal Government that identified occupational licensing as a potential barrier to job growth. WatchdogArena reported on this back in February 2015, "The Budget seeks to reduce occupational licensing barriers that keep people from doing the jobs they have the skills to do by putting in place unnecessary training and high fees."
I asked Jon about licensing reform at the state level. He said that there is an interest, and there is growing recognition of the burden of licensing rules on occupational entry for middle class workers, but that licensing bodies evolve into gate-keepers who protect members of the cartel from competition.
Is there an alternative? Jon suggests professional certifications; where you might need a drain snaked but don’t need a licensed plumber. He also points to technology and online reviews as a form of transparency a consumer might use to find a qualified professional with a record of proven service.
People often assume that taxes represent a significant government burden to small business owners but in the Thumbtack survey that wasn’t the case.
“It wasn’t a very big factor at all,” Lieber said. Business owners know taxes are a part of the cost of doing business. They may want them lower but it is more costly for them to lose a week or more complying with tax law than the tax itself. “It can become a real burden. Every hour they have to spend on this process is a real drag on them.”
What do small business owners see as beneficial? Easy to navigate websites that provide useful information or make compliance easier. Lieber also said, “They appreciate it when there is a government or civic institution that offers training programs or helps them meet other people in their field. Help them understand how to find new customers, and how to run their business better.”
State’s looking to improve can begin by removing barriers to entry into occupations, and reducing the time needed to understand and comply with regulations.
My home state of New Hampshire ranked well across the board, including areas identified as employment, labor and hiring, health and safety, regulations, zoning, tax code, and even licensing.
The top five states in the survey are Texas, New Hampshire, Utah, Louisiana, and Colorado. The worst ranked states are California, Connecticut, Illinois, and Rhode Island, with Massachusetts, Maryland, and New York right behind them.
September 3, 2015
Sting Targets Unlicensed Contractors In Sacramento
Eleven unlicensed contractors have been netted in a Natomas-area sting, the Contractors State Licensing Board said Tuesday.
Among the suspects are two who didn’t let past contracting violations stop them from continuing to violate state contracting laws, the CSLB says.
CSLB stages sting operations year-round to crack down on unlicensed contracting, which it says feeds a multi-billion-dollar underground economy in California, and creates unfair business competition for licensed, law-abiding contractors.
Using a list of suspected unlicensed contractors developed mostly from online ads, local pamphlets, and a newspaper, investigators posed as homeowners seeking bids for various home improvement projects that included fencing, painting, a concrete driveway, and tankless water heater installation.
The bids received by investigators averaged about $2,300, with a high bid of $4,000. Any project that is $500 or more in combined labor and material costs must be performed by a state-licensed contractor in California.
Penalties for first-time unlicensed contracting convictions include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines.
Two men cited at the Sacramento sting were no strangers to CSLB. One had been caught in a 2012 sting operation in El Dorado County and was given a probation term and a fine, and had been previously denied a contractor license. He also is a registered sex offender. The other man, on probation for a 2014 unlicensed contracting conviction, tried to pass off a contractor license that did not belong to him.
“Time after time, the stings we conduct show that property owners need to be very careful about who they’re allowing in and around their home and family,” says CSLB Registrar Cindi Christenson.
All suspects were issued a notice to appear in Sacramento County Superior Court for contracting without a license. Ten of the 11 were cited for illegal advertising. Contracting law requires unlicensed operators to state in all advertising that they are not licensed; the penalty is a fine of $700 to $1,000.
September 2, 2015
Oregon To Add Up To 17 New Liquor Licenses
PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has opened the door for up to 17 retail businesses, including convenience stores, to become liquor outlets in the Portland area.
With only one liquor outlet in the state for every 16,000 residents, the commission wants to add outlets in areas with the most disparity--Portland area counties of Clackamas, Washington and Multnomah--to improve the ratio of stores to residents to about one per 12,000.
“Oregonians have grown more sophisticated and have greater demand for modern, consumer‐friendly shopping and higher levels of convenience than ever before,” said OLCC chairman Rob Patridge. "Through open recruitment, we’re moving forward with a plan that presents a unique opportunity for the commission to increase store density while exploring new and innovative market‐driven business models where customers can purchase spirits in Oregon."
The open recruitment process is open to a variety of different business proposals that could include adding a spirits section inside existing stores, a traditional liquor store or a unique niche business, the commission said. The OLCC’s independent contractors also can apply for additional outlets under the open recruitment process.
“We’re calling on existing liquor agents and business owners to bring forward innovative proposals that showcase the entrepreneurial spirit for which Oregonians are known,” said Patridge.
The process of open recruitment is a new tool OLCC is using to foster liquor outlet proposals. However, the commission will continue to use its traditional evaluation to make decisions about the appointment of agents for each individual outlet.
September 1, 2015
Salt Lake City, UT
Salt Lake Bar's Loss of $50,000 Liquor License Raises Questions About New Law
Problems are surfacing with a year-old state law that allows business owners to buy and sell state alcohol licenses — issues that could cost Utah businesses thousands of dollars.
Take, for instance, Rheda Fouad, who bought a coveted bar license several months ago for $50,000, only to have it revoked Tuesday by the state liquor commission because his new Sugar House bar, The Ruin, was not ready to open within 60 days of the license purchase.
Fouad told the seven-member Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC) board that circumstances were out of his control — there were delays in getting a lease with the developer and then planning and building permits from Salt Lake City took longer than expected.
Once the liquor license purchase is final, however, state law says the new business must be operational within 30 days, said Sheila Page, the DABC's legal counsel from the Utah attorney general's office. The liquor commission can grant one, 30-day extension, which the liquor commission did for The Ruin in July.
Yet, the bar "is not anywhere near operational," Page told commissioners. "Your hands are tied and the license must be revoked."
The commission voted 6-1 to take back the license, but decided to hold on to it for a month before giving it to another business that has been on a waiting list.
Typically, businesses that want a club license must apply with the DABC and then wait — sometimes a year or more — until one becomes available through an increase in population or another bar closure. Currently, 12 businesses are waiting for a club license.
Buying a club license from another license holder avoids the wait, but is more costly. The licenses are in high demand because they allow, among other things, the establishments to sell drinks without food and to avoid having to build a 7-foot barrier known as a "Zion Curtain" to shield the mixing and pouring of drinks from minors.
Since the law took effect in July 2014, at least a half-dozen licenses have sold for anywhere from $30,000 to more than $100,000, business owners have told The Salt Lake Tribune.
While not opposed to the revocation, commissioner Neal Berube cast the lone no vote, saying The Ruin's license should be given immediately to one of the businesses on the waiting list.
"It seems like preferential treatment," he said.
While the situation looked dire for Fouad and The Ruin, there may be a reprieve. Chairman John T. Nielsen said that if the bar is in compliance by the commission's next meeting Sept. 29, the bar could be considered for a club license. But Nielsen made no guarantees.
DABC officials have also noted other issues with the law: How much time, if any, should closed businesses be given to sell a license; and the immense amount of legal work that the state requires to make a license sale official.
After the meeting, Nielsen said, it may be time for the Legislature to tweak the law.
"We've had time to see how the law operates and see the problems," he said. "There are some issues to look at."
Under the law, business owners can sell their alcohol licenses whether for the same location or a different premise. However, the license must stay in the county in which it was issued. Before the license transfer is finalized, club owners must prove to the DABC that there are no unpaid creditors or tax debts on the property. They also must pay a $300 license-transfer fee.
The owners of David's Bar and Grill, in West Valley City, were among the first to sell their license. In February, the LaSalle Restaurant Group, which also owns Oasis, Faustina, Kyoto and Caffe Niche restaurants, bought the license for its new Under Current Club in downtown Salt Lake City.
While new business owners probably lack the cash for such deals, the law has helped established business owners, such as Dave Morris of Piper Down in Salt Lake City.
August 31, 2015
Smithton Hikes Transient Business License Fees
Smithton Council approved a resolution Monday raising the license fees for transient retail businesses.
Smithton's ordinance defines a transient retail business as “anyone engaging in peddling, soliciting, taking orders either by sample or otherwise, for any goods, wares or merchandise upon any street, alley, sidewalk or public ground, or from house to house.”
Anyone intending to conduct a transient business in Smithton is required to advise the borough and apply for a license. Fees associated with obtaining a license are set by resolution.
The fees were last set in April of 2014 at $100 per day, $200 per month and $500 per year. The new fee schedule, approved unanimously by council, is $500 per day, $2,500 per month and $5,000 per year. Council members Karen Primm and Robert Prah Jr. were absent.
The ordinance describes exceptions which include farmers selling their products; anything that is donated to a charitable goal or philanthropic purpose; the sale of bread and bakery products, meat and meat products, and milk and milk products; children under the age of 18; and insurance agents.
Mayor Christine Tutena advised residents, “If someone comes soliciting to your door, ask to see a license issued by the Borough of Smithton and signed by the mayor.”
The board also was unanimous, although reluctant, in approving payment for updating the MetroAlert software the police department uses.
While a $1,056 payment has already been paid, most members of council expressed consternation over the $2,114 balance.
Forcing council's hand was a letter from PennDOT advising the police department that the PennDOT crash report submissions site will be inaccessible unless the department has migrated to the new software.
Tutena said, “$2,100 is a lot of money for us, but you've got to do it.”
Borough secretary Jackie Faber noted they could opt to pay two installments — $1,000 now and the balance at the end of October. Council approved the two-payment plan.
While council President Dan Barthels was very skeptical, both Tutena and Councilman Fred Foster pushed to try to have the boroughs of Madison and Sutersville, which contract with Smithton for police coverage, pitch in for the software upgrade. Faber agreed to write them a “nice” letter making the request. “It can't hurt to try,” Tutena said.
Also concerning the police department, Chief Glenn Kopp advised council the Charger is still out of commission at the dealership. Apparently, the recent tests produced more codes without pinpointing the cause of the engine malfunction.
While council wrestles with what the next course of action should be, Kopp is investigating municipal leasing through Ford. He said he will have some firm numbers for budget discussions which start in October.
Also, Barthels advised Smithton residents the police department's phone system has been fixed and is working properly.
In other business, council approved reimbursing one-third of the $140 requested by Karen Heltebran for the cost of a continuing education course in accounting required by the state to maintain her position as the borough tax collector. Councilmen Bruce Celapino and Kevin Regotti reasoned that since Heltebran also collects taxes on behalf of the county and the Yough School District, Smithton's share should be one-third.
Faber noted that council is under no obligation to reimburse Heltebran for the cost of the course. Councilman Larry Heltebran abstained from the vote.
Council members will also be acquiring three bids for the replacement of the water supply line that runs from the meter to the newly installed backflow-prevention valve in the borough building. The recent installation revealed the supply pipe is almost entirely plugged with mineral deposits. A piece of the deposits, hard as cement, could break free and flow into the new valve causing irreparable damage, according to the installer.
Outside the borough building, council members will be walking the town to take inventory of which sidewalks need to be repaired. Barthels expects a list to be available at next month's council meeting.
August 28, 2015
Elmwood Park, NJ
Elmwood Park Council Waives Liquor License Distance Requirement
The Elmwood Park Council adopted a resolution waiving the 500 foot distance requirement between liquor license locations in the borough.
A Midland Avenue liquor store, M&M Wines and Spirits, owned by Somras, Inc., applied for a waiver to move the business to a new location in the Elmwood Square strip mall on Market Street. According to the business owner, his landlord was increasing the rent by 50 percent which forced him to seek a new location.
Because the Elmwood Square site is less than 500 feet from two stores with liquor licenses, Food Mart across the street and Birchwood Deli and Liquor on Boulevard, the owner had to request a waiver from the borough.
Councilman Robert Colletti objected to allowing a waiver for the business, and said it would be "encroaching on two smaller businesses."
"I have a problem with that because we have two established businesses... that I feel will be affected by the competition," he said.
"This ordinance was established for a reason," Colletti said, referring to the 1968 ordinance that places restrictions on liquor license locations. "I think some of these old traits we have to maintain."
There are currently 23 liquor license locations within the 2.8-square-mile borough. Several of the locations are in close proximity to each other. M&M's original location, for example, was less than 500 feet from American Legion Post 147, which also holds a liquor license.
Borough Clerk Keith Kazmark said that according to his records, no businesses have requested or been granted a waiver since 2007.
According to the state statute, liquor stores must be 200 feet away from a house of worship or school. Nothing prohibits a liquor store from opening up across the street or next door to another business with a liquor license.
Councilman Lou Vuoncino said that the council heard from the other business at a previous work session, but that the overriding issue was the hardship faced by Somras, Inc. and the 50 percent rent increase.
"Not entertaining the waiver would allow a business to die on the vine," Vuoncino said.
He added that the governing body should look into why the borough has not followed the 500-foot restriction ordinance in the past and decide how it should be addressed going forward.
Councilman Joe Dombrowski said he supported the waiver because of "free enterprise." He also questioned why the distance restriction doesn't also apply to nail salons and delis in the borough.
"If you take a look at Market Street, there are three delis within 300 feet of each other. Actually, three are within the same block of stores," he said. "I feel it's unfair to pick on liquor stores."
The resolution passed 5-1 with Colletti casting the only dissenting vote.
August 26, 2015
Ten Unlicensed Contractors Cited In Petaluma Sting Operation
Ten people suspected of advertising themselves as contractors but lacked licenses were cited in a two-day sting in Petaluma, prosecutors said Monday.
The stings were conducted Aug. 18 and 19 by the Contractors State License Board and the District Attorney’s Office, spokesman Brian Staebell said.
Inspectors called people advertising for painting, landscaping, fencing, wrought iron, concrete or carpentry work. They turned up at a Petaluma house where they received citations.
Their names were not released.
The law requires a license for work exceeding $500. An unlicensed contractor can perform work for less but must disclose the lack of a license.
The penalty for a first-time conviction can include up to six months in jail and fines up to $5,000.
August 26, 2015
August 24, 2015
Unlicensed Substance Abuse Treatment Programs Scramble To Comply With Regulations
Southeastern New Hampshire Services in Dover offers inpatient substance abuse treatment along the same stretch of County Farm Road as a nursing home and a day care center.
State law mandates that all three businesses be licensed and undergo annual health and safety inspections. But for as long as Heidi Moran can remember, state regulators have allowed Southeastern New Hampshire Services to operate without any oversight.
“For years, and I mean 20-plus years, we have been receiving grant money from the state,” says Moran, the agency’s clinical administrator, “and we have never had to have a license.”
That’s set to change July 1, 2016, when the state will cut funding to Southeastern New Hampshire Services and two other unlicensed residential programs, Serenity Place in Manchester and Headrest in Lebanon.
To keep their programs going, the three centers will need to bill Medicaid and private insurers, who are now required to cover substance abuse treatment under the Affordable Care Act. To bill the insurers, the centers need a health care facility license – and that requires compliance with hundreds of regulations on everything from fire protection to door handles.
Moran estimates it will cost $500,000 to upgrade her building to meet the licensing requirements. That includes installing an elevator and refitting bathrooms to meet the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“It’s crazy-making,” she says.
Sharon Drake, executive director of Serenity Place, says most of her bedrooms are too small under the licensing standards. She’s looking at $1 million in renovations or reducing the number of beds at a time when every inpatient treatment program in the state has a waiting list.
Both organizations have also had to hire additional staff to help clients get insurance coverage, as well as experts to bill the insurers and document, record and track every claim.
Drake says treatment providers waited a long time for the day when insurers would have to cover substance abuse like any other medical condition. But with less than a year to go, she says the state has not done enough to help the unlicensed programs prepare.
“There was no ramp-up time,” she says. “There was no, ‘This is where we’re going and here are some resources to help you,’ no conversation on the licensing end of it.”
Officials with the state Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services, or BDAS, dispute that, maintaining that the unlicensed programs have known for at least two years that they would need to be licensed.
About a dozen inpatient programs, including Keystone Hall in Nashua and Phoenix House in Dublin and Keene, are already in compliance.
Cheryl Wilkie, who oversees substance abuse treatment programs at the Farnum Center, a licensed, 18-bed inpatient facility in Manchester, says she was surprised to learn there were unlicensed inpatient programs in operation.
While she would “hate” to see any residential program shut down over the issue, she says, licensed programs like hers have gone without state funding since Medicaid and private insurers began paying for treatment.
“Hearing they didn’t have licenses, that means BDAS has been carrying them for two years,” Wilkie says. “That money could be used for prevention. We could do so much with it.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services acknowledges that state regulators didn’t learn about the unlicensed programs until early 2011, when the facility standards were updated.
“These handful of facilities did operate for the longtime without a license,” says Jake Leon, director of communications for the Department of Health and Human Services. “I think when the licensing folks realized that, they moved to change it.”
Leon says the department is working with the unlicensed programs to help bring them into compliance. In some cases, he says, that means making sure renovations meet the standards for a residential facility. In others, it could mean helping them find a new location.
Elected officials at the state and federal levels have gotten involved as well.
Citing the “overwhelming demand” for treatment services, especially inpatient care, Gov. Maggie Hassan has ordered a review of the state’s licensing requirements.
In a letter to Sylvia Burwell, the secretary Health and Human Services, Sen. Kelly Ayotte has asked federal officials to work with the state. “At a time when access to treatment is already lacking,” she wrote, “burdensome and costly regulations should not further hinder the ability of individuals struggling with addiction to get the help they need.”
Moran, of Southeastern New Hampshire Services, says she briefly considered closing the inpatient program and continue operating as an outpatient center. But, with so many people needing the more intensive treatment, she’s decided against it.
Instead, she hired an architect to start drawing up plans for a renovation. That was two years ago, and she's still waiting for Strafford County, which owns the building, the city of Dover, and the state sign off on the plans.
"All I know is I want to stay open and they have given us until next June and I haven't had a hammer swing in this place yet," Moran says.
Serenity Place has decided its best option is to find a building that complies with the state’s facility standards, says Sharon Drake. That's proven difficult. A plan to move to a former school for troubled teenagers was shut down by city officials when neighbors objected. More recently, an offer on a second location fell through.
In the meantime, like Moran, Drake is watching the clock.
“We all have to move towards [licensing] and we’re all willing to move toward it,” she says. “But they need to give us more time and they need to have some flexibility so that we don’t lose beds.”
August 24, 2015
Ogle County, IL
County Board Rejects Tobacco Licensing 13-9
Three people voiced their disappointment Tuesday after the Ogle County Board rejected a measure that would have required licenses for businesses that sell tobacco products.
The board turned down the motion to approve the licensing by a vote of 13 to 9. Two board members Nic Bolin, Holcomb, and John Finfrock, Mt. Morris, did not attend the meeting.
I’m disappointed,” said Joanie Padilla, county director of Health Education and Emergency Preparedness.
She had earlier told the board that she believed the licensing would help discourage businesses from selling tobacco products to anyone 18 or younger.
Zachary Prosser and Grant Zickur, both juniors at Rochelle Township High School, also voiced their disappointment. Both had addressed the board, urging members to vote for the measure.
“I’m very disappointed,” Prosser said. “I’ve seen a lot of Rochelle Township High School students involved in tobacco products.”
Zickur agreed. “I found it disappointing not so much for charging [the businesses], but as a another avenue to prevent young people from smoking,” he said.
The proposal stipulated that any Ogle County business that sells or wants to sell tobacco products must apply annually to the Ogle County Health Department and, if approved, pay a $100 license fee.
Padilla said the licensing would give the health department the authority to go into businesses and conduct compliance checks, making sure tobacco products are not being sold to underage youths.
Currently, she said, the state of Illinois has no such licensing for businesses selling tobacco products.
Oregon, Byron, and Rochelle have obtained grants to do compliance checks for cigarettes, she said, and the police there carry them out.
She said the health department would not do compliance checks for cigarettes in those three towns, but would do them there for other tobacco products, as well as in the rest of the county.
“Kids aren’t buying cigarettes,” Padilla said. “They’re buying Swisher Sweets that have flavors like cherry lemonade and cotton candy. They’re smoking e-cigarettes. These are marketed to kids.”
Nineteen businesses in Ogle County have never had compliance checks for any tobacco product, she said.
Byron is the only community that requires tobacco licenses, she said, and businesses there would still have to purchase a county license.
She said Byron Mayor Chris Millard has given the health department a letter of support.
“This is going to add to your duties,” said board member Greg Sparrow, Rochelle. He asked if the licensing fees would cover the costs of doing the compliance checks.
Padilla said she believed that they would. She said 89 to 100 facilities in the county sell tobacco products.
Board member Zach Oltmanns, Davis Junction, said that although he is opposed to smoking, he would not vote for the licensing.
“I believe this is another tax on businesses,” he said.
August 20, 2015
New Ulm, MN
Brown County Updates 17 Year Old Tobacco Ordinance
NEW ULM, Minn. - The Brown County Board unanimously approved revisions to the to the county's tobacco ordinance.
Brown County's 17 year old tobacco ordinance on the sale and licensing of tobacco products is receiving an update.
A public hearing today allowed for input on the addition of tobacco–related products to the ordinance.
Brown County Attorney Chuck Hanson says, "The biggest revision is obviously to add the e–cigarettes, electronic delivery devices and nicotine lobelia delivery products."
The revisions add those products to the list of other tobacco products stores and vendors need a license to sell.
It also prohibits the sale of tobacco-related products to anyone under the age of 18 in Brown County.
School officials, medical professionals and community members crowded into the commissioner's boardroom to express their opinions.
Brown County Commissioner Scott Windschilt says, "A lot of different areas of the community came, including a good share of the youth, that is kind of what the ordinance is intended to protect."
The revisions focus on one type of product, e–cigarettes, with names that often times appeal to children.
Hanson says, "Flavors like gummy–bear, juicy fruit. Those obviously aren't flavors being marketed toward adults, those are being marketed towards children and we want to be able to keep them out of the hands of children."
The revision includes changes to the fees and fines for violation of the ordinance.
Windschilt says, "Compliance checks done on the business that are selling tobacco related products to make sure they are marketing only to people that are of legal age."
The County Board approved the revised ordinance this morning.
August 17, 2015
New Castle, PA
Castle Hills Cited For License Violation
The Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement cited a Neshannock Township business for a liquor license violation.
Evanemy LLC, doing business as Castle Hills Golf Course at 110 W. Oakwood Way, was cited for failing to notify the Liquor Control Enforcement Bureau of a change in managers from June 30, 2001, through June 8, 2015. The bureau said it is required to be notified of this type of change within 15 days of the change.
These charges will be brought before an administrative law judge, who has the authority to impose penalties ranging from $50 to $1,000 for minor offenses, and up to $5,000 for a serious offense. The judge may also impose a license suspension or revocation based on the severity of the charge brought.
August 13, 2015
Crab Island Restaurant Closed For Unlicensed Activity
DESTIN — A Crab Island restaurant was shut down by the state last week after a random inspection revealed it had been operating without a license.
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation announced Tuesday that Waterworld, a restaurant operated by Crab Island Bay Sports LLC, was shut down Aug. 7.
According to Florida Statutes, the food barges on Crab Island are required to have the same permits as a food truck or other mobile food vendor.
Waterworld offered hotdogs, boudin, quesadillas and nachos, according to the DBPR report.
Crab Island Bay Sports LLC is facing a $500 fine from the DBPR for operating a public food service establishment without a license.
Even if Waterworld had the proper license, it likely would have been issued an emergency closure because the DBPR inspector found numerous violations during their inspection.
Waterworld was cited for storing food at improper temperatures, not using food-graded containers used for food storage, not having soap and towels available at the hand wash sink, having rusty water coming from its sink and being unable to verify that its water came from an approved source.
Waterworld was the sixth local restaurant to be shut down by the DBPR in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa or Walton counties this year and the first to be shut down for operating without a license. Last year, 31 emergency closures were issued to restaurants in the local area.
August 10, 2015
Fort Myers, FL
Florida Investigation of Planned Parenthood Clinics Finds Deficiencies
Three Planned Parenthood Federation of America clinics in Florida were ordered to stop performing second-trimester abortions after an investigation found they didn’t have the proper licenses, the state Agency for Health Care Administration said Wednesday.
The investigation also found one clinic that wasn't keeping proper logs relating to fetal remains, according to the agency. The state may take additional actions, including administrative sanctions, against the clinics.
“Licenses are in place to protect the patient from unscrupulous operators and the state of Florida will ensure every facility is held accountable for its actions,” the agency said in a news release.
Planned Parenthood said it was in full compliance with Florida law and the claim it performed unlicensed procedures was false.
“In the health centers AHCA reported on we only perform first trimester abortions, which we measure according to accepted medical guidelines and in accordance with Florida regulations as up to 13 weeks and six days from a woman’s last menstrual cycle,” said Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates.
“This, as defined by rules, is still the first trimester. AHCA has never before indicated any different interpretation of this—including at inspections performed as recently as two weeks ago,” she added.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott last month ordered an investigation of Planned Parenthood clinics in the state following an antiabortion group’s release of undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the procurement of fetal tissue for research following abortions.
Several states and members of Congress have launched investigations, and Republicans have called for a stop to federal funds for Planned Parenthood. The organization has said the videos show no illegal actions or wrongdoing and have said they are the subject of a smear campaign by antiabortion activists.
Following an unannounced visit by agency investigators on July 31, a Planned Parenthood facility in St. Petersburg was found to be providing services beyond the scope of its license, according to the state findings posted Wednesday online. A further review found that 25 out of 742 abortions performed between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015 were done in the second trimester of pregnancy. The agency may impose a fine that doesn’t exceed $500 for each violation.
A clinic in Fort Myers, Fla., was also found to be in violation, based on the state findings. The report said 21 second-trimester abortions were conducted between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015.
In Naples, Fla., the state investigators found a third Planned Parenthood clinic performing second-trimester abortions without a proper license. The state said a review found that 19 were done between July 2014 and June 2015.
A clinic in Pembroke Pines, Fla., failed to follow its own policy regarding proper labeling and dating of the disposal of fetal remains, the agency report said. That affected the disposal of remains from 25 abortions. A letter dated Wednesday from the state to the clinic requests a correction plan within 10 calendar days.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, has denounced Planned Parenthood and questioned federal funding for the organization in the wake of the undercover videos.
Indiana also launched an investigation into its Planned Parenthood clinics in the wake of the release of the videos, but found no laws were broken. Other states, including Texas, are still investigating.
Also on Wednesday, New Hampshire’s Executive Council voted to strip $639,000 in state funding for Planned Parenthood. The Republican-led council voted along party lines as it considered state contracts for family planning services.
Corrections & Amplifications:
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that state investigators found a Planned Parenthood clinic in Naples, Fla., performed second-trimester abortions without a proper license between July 2015 and June 2015. The time period was between July 2014 and June 2015. (Aug. 6, 2015)
August 6, 2015
Ben Lomond, CA
Ben Lomond Mold Work Triggers $1,500 Fine From Contractors State License Board
BEN LOMOND >> A cleaning company in San Jose hired to take care of mold remediation at a rental home at 10424 Love Creek Road has been cited by the Contractors State License Board and fined $1,500.
The citation was mailed July 29 to Ladd Services of San Jose, according to the contractors board spokesman Steve Breen.
Breen said the fine was $750 for working without a license and $750 for advertising without a license.
Anyone who contracts to work on a project of $500 or more for combined labor and materials costs must have a license from Contractors State License Board , one of nine agencies participating in the state’s Labor Enforcement Task Force fighting California’s underground economy.
The maximum fine for a first violation of contracting without a license is $5,000; the maximum fine for advertising without a license is $1,000.
In the past three years, the task force has inspected 1,600 contracting businesses and found 38 percent out of compliance, assessing fines of $1.2 million.
Breen said the Contractors State License Board investigator who visited the Ben Lomond home found insulation torn out.
“With restoration, it’s a fine line,” he said. “They can operate without a license if they don’t tear into walls, floorboard, carpeting, drywall. We’ve got pretty clear parameters.”
The contractor has the right to appeal or could opt to mail in the fine.
“We hope to convince people to get a license,” Breen said.
Ladd Services, owned by Greg Ladd, did not return a call seeking comment.
The state agency was called in by David Homa, whose family was renting the three-bedroom home for $3,000 a month from property owner Robert Nuell.
After Homa’s wife Sonja saw their children experiencing respiratory problems and rashes, Homa paid for a certified mold firm, A.R.E. Inspections, for testing to see if mold had resulted from persistent dampness in the house.
The report found mold in the basement, with penicilium/aspergillus spore counts higher outside than inside, and recommended a specific remediation protocol, which Homa said was ignored by the Ladd Services repairman hired by Nuell.
“When he ran those air purifiers, he was supposed to blow that air outside the house, not inside,” Homa said. “He was supposed to cover the furniture. He didn’t do that. He was going to spray chemicals in the house, which were pretty dangerous after we read the ingredients.”
He and his wife, who is expected to give birth to their fourth child later this month, moved out before their two-year-lease was up.
“She’s doing great, taking it day by day,” he said.
As for the citation, Homa said, “I’m glad ... People need to check for the state license. It’s not that hard.”
Checking a license can be done online at www.cslb.ca.gov by entering the name of the business or the employee.
Homa said he checked the license of Tom’s Well Service in Santa Cruz, the firm the property owner recommended after tests the Homas paid for found E. coli and coliforms in the home’s drinking water. The house, built in 1923, has a system that chlorinates water from Love Creek for drinking and household use.
According to the Contractors State License Board database, Tom’s Well Service license was suspended after a $12,500 bond required by the state was cancelled May 23 by Wesco Insurance.
Thomas Robinson of Tom’s said he does in fact have a bond, but the state has not yet updated its database; the agency notes that due to workload issues, there can be a lag in updating information.
HomeAdvisor.com, which says it screens and profiles 85,000 service providers, lists Ladd Services in business since 1988 and offering water removal.
“We will look into it,” said Leland Clark in Home Advisor’s admissions department. ”We do our best to make sure all are properly licensed.”
August 4, 2015
Midwest City, OK
Midwest City Amends Code To Allow Food Trucks
MIDWEST CITY — Members of the city council recently approved amendments to existing code, "Peddlers and Solicitors, Article III, Foodstuffs," by taking Section 32-60 out of reserve and titling it “Food Trucks, license required.”
According to city officials, by making this change, food truck operators will be allowed to operate within the city limits of Midwest City, as long as they follow specified requirements, including only operating in areas zoned for business or industrial uses.
Food trucks are allowed to operate in areas other than business or industrial only by obtaining a special-events permit. These are limited to two per year.
All food truck operators will be required to be licensed and have an up-to-date food manager’s certification by the Oklahoma City-County Health Department. Operators will be required to file a sworn application in writing, provided by the city clerk, and pay an annual city license fee of $250.
The food truck licenses will run from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31 and will not be prorated.
According to Midwest City Manager J. Guy Henson, the presence of food trucks in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area is a growing trend.
“This code amendment is a first step in allowing food trucks to do business in our community at an affordable rate, but still having to meet standards set by the city and the City-County Health Department,” Henson said.
Henson said the city plans to discuss creating a food truck court and is looking at special food truck events.
To obtain a food truck license, go to the customer service desk on the first floor of City Hall, 100 N Midwest Blvd.
August 3, 2015
Man On 'Most Wanted Unlicensed Contractors' List Arrested
PHOENIX, AZ - A Scottsdale man on the Arizona Registrar of Contractor ’s most wanted list was arrested by officials.
The Phoenix Police Department arrested Frank Marquez, 52, on July 29th.
Marquez does not have an Arizona contracting license. He was placed on the Arizona Registrar of Contractors "Most Wanted Unlicensed Contractors " list for being a repeat offender who performed poorly and left jobsites, according to the organization, otherwise known as AZ ROC.
Marquez's license was revoked in 2009 after ten complaints were filed about his poor work and also about him abandoning work. The complaints were made to AZ ROC between 2006 and 2009.
Since 2013, Marquez continued to work illegally under business names like Downtown Cabinetry, the Art of Cabinetry and A-1 Custom Cabinetry, according to AZ ROC.
In 2013, AZ ROC has investigated five additional cases that were all submitted for prosecution after the investigation of Marquez.
According to AZ ROC, three of the five victims said they paid Marquez $26,183.50 for custom cabinets. The other two cases involved advertising violations, according to the organization.
"By hiring an unlicensed entity, individuals open themselves up to incredible risk with little recourse for when issues arise,” AZ ROC Director Jeff Fleetham said.
“Consumers need to do their homework before hiring someone to perform work on or around their house and AZ ROC's website provides consumers with the ability to search for licensed contracting professionals in their area," he said.
Marquez was arrested on six counts relating to contracting without a license, failure to appear on a suspended driver’s license and issuing a bad check.
August 3, 2015
Zoning change slakes thirst for alcohol in Detroit restaurants
For years, if a restaurateur wanted to open an alcohol-serving establishment in Detroit outside of the central business district, he or she was hamstrung.
That's because of an alarming amount of red tape and delays to earning that privilege.
But things are changing.
A zoning change that advocates describe as a win for restaurant owners outside of downtown's 1.6 square miles — particularly with the proliferation of new dining spots there and in the greater downtown's 7.2 square miles — took effect last month after nearly three years of work.
As of July 11, restaurants throughout the city's 143 square miles that serve alcohol are considered a "by right" use. Translation: No longer do prospective restaurateurs need to go through a hearing process through the Building, Safety Engineering & Environmental Department and the Board of Zoning Appeals that could affect not only wallets — but also calendars — if they wanted to locate within 1,000 feet of two other alcohol-serving restaurants.
The process for one license could take up to $2,200 in city fees — not to mention costs for an attorney — and up to six to eight more months to receive BSEED and BZA approval for an alcohol-serving restaurant, said Tonja Stapleton, zoning administrator for BSEED.
"Basically, we were shooting ourselves in the foot when trying to create entertainment districts and different nodes," Stapleton said. "It really impacted the Livernois business district and Corktown and Eastern Market, and to some extent, New Center and Midtown."
A series of steps are required to open a restaurant in Detroit, including site selection, site plan approval and obtaining a liquor license, city business license and certificate of occupancy, among others.
Patrick Howe, a partner focusing on hospitality and land use for Royal Oak-based law firm Howard & Howard PLLC, said Corktown hot spots like Slows Bar BQ, Gold Cash Gold, Mercury Burger Bar and Sugar House all had to go through the prolonged process.
The system required two separate hearings. First, a board of building department staff member would have to approve the restaurant use. Then if approved, the applicants would have to receive a waiver of concentration from the zoning team, Howe said.
"You don't have to deal with the hearings now," he said. "You can just go get your liquor license and go through that process. It's a real time saver."
It also will help grease the skids for restaurateurs from out of state eying Detroit for a location, Howe said.
"We are seeing restaurants from New York, Chicago, Las Vegas. When they call me and I have to explain the process that takes 60-90 days to complete," it's a deterrent, he said. "Then I tell them the building they are looking at can be used as a restaurant by right, it's a huge change in their minds."
Stapleton said that in the first weeks of working on the ordinance revision, the state Liquor Control Commission had authorized the city to have 476 Class C liquor licenses, which allow for the sale of liquor, beer and wine for consumption on premises. Those cost $600 per year, plus $350 per year for each additional bar. The LCC had issued 596, putting the city 120 over quota.
The city currently has 558 licenses issued, or 81 over quota. Detroit can have more issued licenses than the quota because the quota is based on population figures from U.S. Census data and the number of issued licenses sometimes lags behind that figure.
Ryan Cooley, owner of O'Connor Realty Detroit LLC in Corktown and a partner of Slows Bar BQ and Gold Cash Gold (all three of which had to receive BSEED and BZA approvals), said the change will expedite the process for new restaurateurs.
When asked, he typically tells aspiring restaurant owners it takes about 18 months to open up a restaurant in Detroit between securing the financing, build-out and obtaining the proper approvals.
That timeframe is now shortened.
"Anything to speed up the process is good," Cooley said.
July 29, 2015
Trenton cracking down on unlicensed businesses
A crackdown by Trenton officials on unlicensed businesses could bring in more revenue to the city.
"We're in a place to get it done," Deputy City Clerk Cordelia Staton said. "There's certainly a need for us to go out. Some folks need a little nudging ... and there's a lot more money to be collected to go into the city coffers."
She said the clerk's office had become lax in going after businesses in recent years.
"We didn't have all the resources we needed to carry it out as aggressively as we wanted, but now we do," Staton said. "We have our vehicle, we have our summons book and we've had our refresher on issuing summons."
Shirley Lopreato, supervisor of records in the clerk's office, said she is in the midst of finalizing a list of businesses that do not have a valid business license or health permit. Letters will be sent out this week and owners will be given a small window of time to comply.
If they do not come in to pay, Lopreato will hit the streets and begin issuing summonses.
"They're not getting a big window because they've been warned before and they keep ignoring the warning," she said.
Renewals are due every year by Feb. 1 and letters go out in December, Lopreato said.
Staton warned that businesses could be shut down if they ignore the summons.
"We're not ruling out random inspections because there's going to be a lot of people that we just don't catch," she said.
Lopreato said that by being more proactive, they'll be able to catch businesses that have come under new ownership and failed to register with the city.
July 29, 2015
Legislature passes liquor licenses in Stoughton and Tyngsboro
BOSTON – The House on Monday passed legislation authorizing six more licenses in Stoughton and 10 additional alcohol licenses in Tyngsboro. The bills, based on legislation filed by Reps. Colleen Garry of Dracut and division chair Rep. Louis Kafka of Stoughton, could eventually add to the rash of laws approved in recent years to assist communities that have run up against their cap on allotted licenses.
In May, Garry and others appealed to the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee for a batch of licenses to accommodate anticipated restaurant development in Tyngsboro, which officials hope to further develop a corridor that crosses the New Hampshire state line into the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua.
Officials said 30,000 vehicles a day travel through the area. “We’re looking at that corridor as sort of our economic engine,” Curt Bellevance, Tyngsboro’s town administrator, said at the hearing. Garry said developers want to know if licenses will be available, and town officials don’t want to have to tell them they might be able to get licenses, depending on the success of legislation. “We just want to have them in a drawer,” Garry told her colleagues.
July 29, 2015
1 in 5 businesses in Kankakee has no city license
Nearly 170 Kankakee businesses apparently are operating without a city-mandated business license, not only withholding badly needed money from the city, but also potentially evading important safety inspections.
The city clerk's office recently determined 168 businesses — some of which admittedly may no longer exist — didn't renew their licenses by May 1. Fifty-four of those businesses, nonprofits, don't have to pay the $100 renewal fee, and the other 114 may account for $11,400 owed to the city.
While that may not sound like much, it comes at a time when the city is scratching for every dollar it's owed.
"It takes a couple of years for people to get in the loop of what is expected," said Mayor Nina Epstein. "We put this into effect because we wanted a database of businesses. We also wanted to improve the inspection process since Kankakee is an older community. It isn't about the money."
Noncompliant businesses, including those exempt from a renewal fee, could face fines ranging from $50 to $500 for each day without a license through adjudication court. Assistant City Attorney Pat Power believes most businesses will cooperate before legal action is required.
"We don't want to hurt or shut down any business," Power said, noting businesses have yet to be ticketed. "We just want compliance with our ordinance and to know who we have in business. If they don't comply, we'll have to start writing tickets."
Kankakee monitors and regulates businesses through the licensing ordinance, which took effect in 2014. Businesses must complete an application and present various documents to register and renew their licenses. The licensing year runs from May 1 to April 30.
The ordinance states, "It is unlawful for any person to conduct, operate, engage in or practice any business in the city of Kankakee from a specific premise, without first having obtained a business license for the city."
Farmers, hospitals, health care professions, home-sited businesses and state-licensed businesses don't need a city license, per the ordinance.
Nonprofits, day cares and businesses with liquor licenses are exempt from the renewal fee but must have a city business license. Forty-two nonprofits — 20 of which are churches — didn't renew their licenses. Eight day cares and four liquor license carriers also didn't renew.
Ross's Chicago Records still has to submit paperwork but plans on renewing its license. The store's manager feels the ordinance "milks a little more money away from small businesses" and hopes it doesn't continue.
"It's a pain in the butt," manager Rich McGillen said. "We're not deliberately ignoring it. It's not something we are in the habit of. You have to be reminded."
Terry Vaughn, owner of Terry Vaughn Construction, also empathized with small businesses. After 30 years in business, the former mayor of Bourbonnais didn't renew his license because he and his wife are moving to California within three months.
"While $100 isn't a big burden to us, it is for some of the smaller businesses," Vaughn said. "That's $100 more you have to come up with that could go toward bills. It's hard to be in business nowadays."
Jaffe Drugs, the drugstore accused of owing more than $20,000 in back pay to former employees, has been operating without a license since May. Its owners filed a renewal application but didn't pass a fire inspection.
The drugstore's owners, Barry and Fred Jaffe, appeared in circuit court on Thursday for not meeting fire codes since June 2014. They have to significantly repair their building by Aug. 6 or else they will have to vacate it.
Power and Kankakee Fire Department Capt. Mike Casagrande said Jaffe's building is a fire hazard and could jeopardize neighboring businesses. Epstein said that's an example of why there's a licensing ordinance in the first place.
"These businesses are part of our community and so are the people who buy from them," she said. "So, it's important that we are vigilant in our inspections and make sure our businesses meet standards."
July 28, 2015
Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Deputies cite two Rancho Cucamonga massage parlors
RANCHO CUCAMONGA >> Two massage parlors — one of which was part of a sting in June — were recently cited by sheriff’s deputies for operating a business without a license, authorities said.
Deputies witnessed employees at the Orchid Massage, 9000 Foothill Blvd. No. 104, and the 5 Star Massage, 6652 Carnelian St., seeing customers and completing business transactions at 2 p.m. June 21, though neither business was properly licensed by the city, according to a news release from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
5 Star Massage was one of six businesses included in a sheriff’s operation on June 4.
In the latest incident, Rancho Cucamonga fire personnel and the city’s business licensing staff inspected both locations and citations were issued to the owners. Neither business was found to have a proper business license or conditional use permit, authorities said.
Deputies cited Xin Liu, 49, of Montclair, Chun Ye, 36, of Rancho Cucamonga and Yuan Shao, 47, of El Monte on suspicion of violating a municipal code section for operating a business without a license, according to the news release.
The city allows legitimate massage parlors to conduct business. As with any other business, the parlors must have proper licensing and inspections completed prior to the business opening to the public, authorities said.
In June, deputies assigned to the sheriff’s Human Trafficking Task Force arrested 11 people and shut down three massage parlors in Rancho Cucamonga.
The prostitution sting included serving three search warrants and conducting six compliance checks on June 4.
The businesses were identified as: Haven Therapy, 10062 Foothill Blvd.; 5 Star Massage, 6652 Carnelian St.; Sun’s Acupuncture and Massage, 8865 Foothill Blvd.; Rancho Health Center, 9619 Foothill Blvd.; Happy Massage, 9223 Archibald Ave., Suite D; and the Royal Spa, 9090 Milliken Ave., No. 130.
Several of the businesses were cited for city licensing or code violations as well as fire or building safety issues.
Anyone with information regarding the massage parlors can contact the sheriff’s Rancho Cucamonga station at 909-477-2800. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can contact the WeTip Hotline at 800-78CRIME (27463) or leave information on the WeTip website at www.wetip.com.
July 28, 2015
Scappoose council OKs pot ordinance
After months of sharp divides and mixed messages about medical marijuana dispensaries, the Scappoose City Council narrowly approved an ordinance, amending its business licensing program to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in city limits.
Councilors delivered emphatic viewpoints on the issue, as residents from throughout Columbia County filled every chair in the room, lined the walls and spilled into the hallway during a public hearing Monday, July 20.
After being the first in the county to approve a business licensing program for medical marijuana dispensaries in April, the council changed direction on the issue in June, citing a conflict with federal law. The shift came as the city was processing an application for a business license from Sweet Relief Natural Medicine, a medical marijuana dispensary on Highway 30 in Scappoose.
At issue was language in the city’s code that requires businesses to comply with all local, state and federal laws. Scappoose city attorney Shelby Rihala advised the council that it could modify the language about federal compliance, to indicate exceptions for businesses complying with Oregon’s controlled substances act.
The council failed to approve the immediate implementation of the ordinance earlier this month, but approved the ordinance with a 4-3 vote Monday.
Councilors Barbara Hayden, Jason Meshell and Mayor Scott Burge voted against the ordinance.
Meshell led the council’s initial about-face on dispensaries when he pointed out that the recently approved business license program contradicted language in the city’s own codes. He voiced staunch opposition again Monday, saying the city shouldn’t change its code for the sake of marijuana dispensaries. The councilor also said he feared personal legal liability for failing to uphold federal law.
“The Controlled Substances Act is a federal law, it’s not a federal suggestion,” Meshell said.
Burge, who was the last to cast his vote Monday, said later by phone that had the vote been a tie, he likely would have voted yes.
“I just wanted to make sure the conflict was acknowledged,” Burge said. “The part that I’m torn about is that we vote to tell our city manager and chief of police to violate federal law.”
Rihala advised the council that recently approved legislation allows cities to vote on banning marijuana dispensaries, but because Sweet Relief has already received state approval, it would be exempt from any dispensary ban. She said the city and city councilors are unlikely to face any legal problems for allowing businesses that comply with state law.
Several people showed up Monday to address the council and argue for Sweet Relief. The council heard from more than 15 speakers, many of whom gave personal accounts of how marijuana helped them with serious ailments.
Longtime Columbia County resident Laura Byrd said the plant-based drug allowed her to replace three different pills she took daily following a serious horseback riding incident that left her permanently injured. She urged the council’s approval of the ordinance.
“I believe you’re hiding behind federal government,” Byrd said.
Councilor Mark Reed, who voted against approving the ordinance July 6, said he changed his stance on the dispensary after visiting the site and talking with the owners.
“I feel like I’m voting from a position of knowledge now,” Reed said, noting extensive surveillance and security at the site. “There are maladies for which marijuana might be the only option or the safest option.”
The ordinance will go into effect 30 days from the July 20 vote.
So far, Scappoose has received only one application for a medical marijuana dispensary business license.
Earlier this month, Oregon legislators passed a bill that will allow medical marijuana dispensaries to sell pot to recreational users starting Oct. 1.
July 27, 2015
Amherst Readies To Collect On Back Taxes For Business Licenses
Since 2008, the town of Amherst has steadily fallen behind in collecting money owed for updated business licenses. Now in 2015, the Town Council has begun the process of implementing new methods to collect on past due licenses and keep licenses current.
In April, the council was made aware of back taxes, in particular those stemming from outstanding business licenses dating back at least seven years.
As of last week, businesses in the town of Amherst hold a total of 181 business licenses, according to town of Amherst Office Manager and Treasurer Colan Davis. Of those, 40 remain outstanding for 2015, she said. As of the end of June report, nearly $23,000 is owed to the town of Amherst for 2008-2014.One of the town’s new measures in the process of being implemented to collect what is owed is Virginia’s Set-Off Debt Collection Program.
“You input customer information into the state’s system … and how much they owe,” Davis said.
To her understanding of the program, she said, when a person who is behind files for a tax return, their name is flagged and they receive a letter explaining that their refund is being held because a certain locality is claiming owed money.
Another option being explored is bank liens, if applicable.
These new methods will be added to the measures already in place for collecting business license taxes.
Up until the discussion for change earlier this year, Davis said she was limited to sending letters and making phone calls. Although part of the town’s policy on collections also allows a visit to a customer’s place of business, she has not before had to take that option.
“Visiting will be implemented if necessary,” Davis said. “We like to give the benefit of the doubt.”
The town still is finalizing these new collection methods, Davis said. More information must be gathered for the bank liens option, and Davis and Fiscal Assistant Dee Foltz must complete several classes before utilizing the Set-Off Debt Collection Program.
Davis gave several reasons for why some businesses continue to operate without a valid license.
“We can’t legally chain up their business,” Davis said. “And some don’t understand they’re required to have a license. … Not every locality requires a license.”
Davis said business owners who overlook requirements may not have completed all the research needed on legally operating a business.
Other businesses may have moved from Amherst or gone out of business without notifying the town, which would leave the town’s records inaccurate.
On the reasoning behind why collecting on the owed money is only now a priority, Davis pointed to the fact that town council positions are up for election every two years. The priorities of the council seem to change as it gains and loses members, she said.
The current council made collecting on past due business licenses a priority starting earlier this year, when discussions on the topic began at council meetings.
July 23, 2015
PLI Chief Says City’s Business License Appeal Process Violates State Law
The City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Permits, Licenses and Inspections is changing the way it handles appeals to its decisions regarding businesses licenses and property violations.
PLI Chief Maura Kennedy said a review of all bureau policies last year revealed that the current system — wherein Kennedy herself evaluates and adjudicates appeals — violates state law.
“Legally there needs to be an independent body that you appeal the director’s decisions to,” she said. “It’s not appropriate for the department both to be the judge and the jury.”
A bill introduced in City Council on Tuesday would create a five-member Board of License and Inspection Review to adjudicate disputes. Kennedy said the independent body would have the ability to dig further into safety issues such as whether a building meets the city’s fire code.
“We here at the department are sort of the umpires, so we just call balls and strikes based on the code,” she said. “But there could be valid analogous systems that would provide a similar level of safety that this board could then use as judgment to rule on for very technical matters.”
The board would also get involved in the cases of property maintenance violations, such as crumbling sidewalks or mountains of debris on a front lawn, and when a business owner believes PLI is requiring them to get the wrong kind of license.
“It could be as easy as, we’re saying you’re engaging in one type of business activity and requiring you to get that type of license, and you’re saying ‘No, I’m not actually an arcade shop, I just have several antique arcade games that don’t work in my restaurant,’” Kennedy said.
Under the proposal, board members would be appointed by the mayor and would serve three-year terms. A similar board already exists for construction and engineering permits.
Council is slated to discuss the bill at its committee meeting Wednesday.
July 22, 2015
Bergen County, NJ
Bergen County moving companies cited for unlicensed services
The state has issued violation notices against eight moving companies, including four from Bergen County, for allegedly soliciting customers or performing moving services in New Jersey without being licensed by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.
The action follows an investigation over this past year of unlicensed movers that were allegedly targeting Asian and Latino communities in New Jersey, often through foreign language newspapers, according to the Office of the Attorney General and the Division of Consumer Affairs.
The companies from Bergen County that were cited by the state are Canaan Express Inc., Palisades Park; Double Oh Seven LLC, aka 007 Moving, LLC, Palisades Park; GOM Cargo LLC, Ridgefield; and KS General Services, dba Doremi Moving General Service, Ridgefield.
The other moving companies cited by the state operated out of Newark, North Bergen and West New York.
Each violation notice requires that the company pay a civil penalty of $2,500. The penalty can be reduced to $1,250 if the company submits an application to the division for a public mover's license within 15 days.
All eight of the cited companies have been assessed civil penalties, with the option to challenge these penalties or seek licensure.
"It is unacceptable for unlicensed moving companies to target those who do not speak English as their primary language." said Steve Lee, acting director of the Division of Consumer Affairs.
The eight companies cited by the state were identified either through Internet postings or newspaper advertisements in which moving services were advertised exclusively in Spanish or Korean.
The owners of the Bergen County companies did not respond to questions or could not be reached.
July 22, 2015
Stevens Point, WI
City passes ordinance on reserve liquor licenses
STEVENS POINT – Entrepreneurs looking to relocate or start businesses in Stevens Point may find reserve liquor licenses more affordable after the city’s adoption of a refund program this week.
City Council members voted 9-2 this week on a measure that refunds most of the fees for some liquor licenses in an attempt to draw new businesses to town.
State law allows Stevens Point 55 beer, wine and liquor licenses that cost $500 a year, and all are being used by existing businesses. In addition to those, the city is allowed up to five reserve licenses. Reserve liquor licenses cost $10,000 each, and the refund program offers up to $9,500 in reimbursement.
In order to qualify for the grant program, the business must derive 51 percent of its revenue from non-alcohol sales.
July 21, 2015
Wolfendale's, Grub's Sports Bar closed over PLCB license issues
Closing for a midsummer hiatus may have been a routine thing for Wolfendale’s tavern and its companion, Grub’s Sports Bar, in downtown Indiana.
Reopening for business will be anything but routine for the pair of nightspots.
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board deactivated the license for the businesses on July 1, primarily because the owner, NCK Inc., failed to submit a midterm validation for its ongoing operation.
A PLCB spokesman also said the license for Wolfie’s and Grub’s can’t be reactivated until the company meets its obligation for taxes due to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.
Ken Arthurs, the secretary of NCK and manager of the Wolfendale’s complex, acknowledged that the license is hung up because of tax issues but said he expected to clear up the problem and reopen sometime this week.
“We take a vacation at this time every single year,” Arthurs said. But the tavern was unable to reopen as he had planned on July 10 and Wolfendale’s was forced to find a new venue for a band that had been booked to play that night.
But it was during that first week of the month that NCK management realized its permit hadn’t been renewed.
“When you renew your liquor license, you have to have your taxes current,” Arthurs said. When June 30 came, he said, the company apparently still owed money to the state.
“We weren’t aware of it. We recently switched accountants,” he said. “But we will get it tied together.”
Arthurs said he had contacted state Rep. Dave Reed and state Sen. Don White’s local legislative offices for help navigating the state bureaucracy, an effort confirmed both by Reed’s office director, Jonathan Longwill, and White’s staff chief, Joe Pittman.
The PLCB also confirmed Wolfendale’s license has been held up, but spokesman Shawn Kelly gave a different explanation.
Liquor licenses ordinarily are granted for two years, but licensees need to confirm in alternating years, by filing a validation, that they’re still using the license.
“In the off year you have to file validation to let us know you are still operating,” Kelly said. “The licensee (NCK) did not file this validation.”
Kelly said PLCB still verifies the license holder’s status before confirming that the license is still good.
“Our procedures require us to ensure that taxes for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and Department of Labor and Industry are cleared before we renew or validate a license,” he said. “Our records indicate Revenue issued a clearance, but not Labor and Industry.
“However, we did not receive a request for validation, and no reason was provided as to why the licensee did not submit for validation.”
At the Department of Labor and Industry, spokesman David Eckelmann said he could not comment on NCK’s compliance with its obligations to the department.
Paying taxes to DLI and filing a validation request to PLCB may just be the beginning of reopening the tavern doors at 560 and 566 Philadelphia St.
There could be a new look in store for the Wolfendale’s, a fixture for nearly 30 years in Indiana, and Grub’s, the 2009 expansion of the business.
Arthurs said he is pondering a new atmosphere and a new marketing thrust because business is evolving.
Changes in the downtown Indiana nightlife landscape have changed people’s bar-hopping habits. Changes in the schedule at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, combined with the Indiana Borough political atmosphere and the shape of the Indiana area economy, also have changed the peaks and valleys in the business cycle for his taverns, Arthurs said.
“When you go on vacation, you get a chance to think about things, and we’re thinking about revamping Wolfie’s,” he said. “We may do a different thing; we may start catering to our older customers.
“We’re always portrayed as a fun party club … maybe it’s time for a name change, maybe it’s time for an image change. We just don’t know.”
Arthurs said the taverns would be closed Mondays the rest of the summer, and he had hoped to reopen on Tuesday. Tuesday and Wednesday came and went, the neon beer logo signs still glowed inside the Grub’s storefront bar, but the doors remained locked and the “On Vacation” signs remained posted.
Representatives of NCK took part in publicity this week for the annual “Taste and Tour” promotional event for Indiana-area eateries, scheduled for tonight downtown. Grub’s has been advertised as one of the stops on the dining-heavy event.
Kelly at PLCB said Grub’s can legally take part.
“They can serve food and other items, they just cannot serve any alcohol,” he said.
And until Wolfendale’s ownership complies with the tax and paperwork requirements, the business is not in danger of losing its liquor permit.
“Generally, when a license is going to be inactive, we suggest that the licensee keep the license in safekeeping,” Kelly said. “They can do that for up to three years. Basically, it means they still have the license. They could take it out of safekeeping or transfer it to another entity.”
July 16, 2015
New York, NY
Unlicensed SoHo Day Care Is Shut Down After Death of Infant Boy
The day care that Lee Towndrow and Amber Scorah chose for their 3-month-old son, Karl, seemed like a good match in a city where child care can cost as much as college tuition and waiting lists seem to offer only discouragement.
SoHo Child Care, in a painting-filled second-floor artist’s loft on Greene Street, offered healthy, organic snacks and lunches, immersion in Spanish, birthday parties and Halloween festivities. It was run by Maryellen Strautmanis, who had raised her own six children in the building, at 69 Greene Street, and had taken care of dozens of others since 2001.
“I have the utmost respect for each individual child,” she wrote on her website. “I endeavor through humor, flexibility and consistency, to make each day a joyful experience.”
Monday was Karl Towndrow’s first day at SoHo Child Care. A few hours after his mother dropped him off, he was dead.
A spokeswoman for the office of the city’s chief medical examiner, which performed an autopsy on Tuesday, said the office was conducting further studies to determine the cause of death.
By Tuesday, Ms. Strautmanis’s business had been ordered to shut down amid revelations that it had never been licensed — one of many unlicensed city day care centers that operate outside the law and come to regulators’ attention only when a child is hurt.
The city’s health department received a report of illegal child care activity at the Greene Street loft in November, but an inspector who visited the site could not confirm the allegation, Christopher Miller, a spokesman for the department, said on Tuesday. Workers at the business on the ground floor of the cream-colored building denied seeing any signs of a day care operation, and the inspector did not see any activity while watching the door, Mr. Miller said. No one answered the bell. Eventually, the complaint was dropped.
The department is stepping up efforts to track down unlicensed day care operators, Mr. Miller said, including searching online for listings and advertisements. Any provider that is found to be operating illegally is sent a cease-and-desist order, and inspectors follow up to make sure the site is closed.
Parents looking for child care for the first time often do not know that providers are supposed to be regulated, although awareness has grown in recent years, said Nancy Kolben, the executive director of the city-based Center for Children’s Initiatives. Instead, they may choose based on a center’s reputation among friends and other parents. And parents of infants and toddlers, for whom care is less widely available and more expensive than for older children, may be especially likely to choose an unlicensed option, she said.
“One of the things with a baby, often, is what’s most on the parent’s mind is: ‘Does this person seem warm and caring? Who’s going to be taking care of my child?’ ” Ms. Kolben said. “Those are all important things, but they should be part of a program that’s meeting the regulatory standards.”
New York has among the highest standards for regulating day care in the country, Ms. Kolben said. But she said the rules provided only a foundational framework that did not guarantee a high quality of care.
A 58-page document issued by the state’s Office of Children and Family Services outlines the regulations that SoHo Child Care would have had to follow to earn a license, including rules governing the training of day care employees, the number of meals children receive, the frequency with which bedding must be cleaned and the ratio of employees to children. The agency oversees day care centers throughout the state and contracts with the city’s health department to regulate those in the city.
All employees in licensed day care facilities are required to be trained in CPR and preventing sudden infant death syndrome.
Mr. Towndrow and Ms. Scorah, who live in an apartment in Brooklyn Heights, took Karl to SoHo Child Care after hearing about it from people who worked in SoHo, Robert K. Boyce, the Police Department’s chief of detectives, said.
Ms. Strautmanis, who lives in the 4,000-square-foot loft with her husband, mother-in-law and children, was caring for 15 children with three other employees, Mr. Boyce said. The children were as young as 3 months and as old as 3 years.
Posts on another SoHo Child Care parent’s blog spoke fondly of the activities and routines she offered: Ms. Strautmanis, her staff and the children dressed up for Halloween, and she brought out birthday cake for every child. She even tidied up one child’s haircut at his mother’s request.
The parent, Jacqui Cousin, wrote on the blog, “It is amazing to see how far” her son had come since starting day care. Ms. Strautmanis, originally from Canada, has weathered other times of turbulence. She and her husband, Vincent Strautmanis, had filed for bankruptcy in 2005. That same year, Mr. Strautmanis pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud for taking $950,000 from JP Morgan Chase Bank, according to court records. He was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison, as well as three years of supervised release.
It was after Mr. Strautmanis’s company closed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that his wife began caring for the children of others in their loft, she said on her website. On Monday, Ms. Scorah, a writer who works on developing children’s educational products at Scholastic, had dropped her son off in the morning, planning to come back around noon to feed him. A worker at the day care fed him and put him down for a nap. Just before 12:15 p.m., she checked on him and found his lips blue. It was then that the police were called.
Karl was taken to Lenox Hill HealthPlex in Greenwich Village, where he was pronounced dead soon after. Reached by phone on Tuesday, Ms. Strautmanis declined to comment.Karl was taken to Lenox Hill HealthPlex in Greenwich Village, where he was pronounced dead soon after. Reached by phone on Tuesday, Ms. Strautmanis declined to comment.
On Ms. Scorah’s Instagram account, Karl smiled in almost every photograph: Karl on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Karl outside the White House, Karl next to a sign advertising a book talk for the author Karl Ove Knausgaard. Ms. Scorah is an occasional contributor to Gothamist and other publications, and has been working on a book. Mr. Towndrow is a cinematographer, photographer and visual effects artist who shot parts of “Going Clear,” the HBO documentary about Scientology.
“Karl was beloved by his parents, who doted on him every moment,” read a statement released by the family on an online fund-raising page created by friends. “He was their joy and brought happiness to everyone who met him. His family and friends are grieving but are taking comfort in knowing they knew this sweet, innocent soul, even if it was all too brief.”
July 15, 2015
Seattle council OKs plan to close medical-marijuana businesses
The Seattle City Council approved a plan to shut down medical marijuana businesses that have opened since January 2013.
Green cross signs will become more scarce in Seattle under a plan adopted by the City Council Monday.
The city will force medical-marijuana businesses that opened Jan. 1, 2013, or later to shut down by next July as part of a new licensing plan proposed by Mayor Ed Murray and approved by the council in a unanimous vote.
A rash of new medical-marijuana shops have opened since the start of 2013, just after voters legalized adult possession of an ounce or less of pot through Initiative 502.
Some in the legal pot business and City Hall view those newcomers — who make up roughly half of Seattle’s 99 medical marijuana dispensaries — as profiteers trying to capitalize on the more liberal state law and the city’s lax attitude toward pot businesses.
“This will give the city more authority than in the past to regulate,” said Councilmember Nick Licata, who has long been a supporter of medical marijuana.
New regulations take effect 30 days after the mayor signs the council legislation.
Murray has not disparaged the newer shops, but has said the city is trying to address the uncontrolled growth of the industry in Seattle.
City Attorney Pete Holmes has noted that some of the newcomers haven’t obtained basic city business licenses and some sell to nonpatients, so they aren’t even truly dispensaries.
The council’s vote comes less than a week after King County’s top two law enforcers announced a crackdown on 15 dispensaries in unincorporated parts of the counties.
Both the city and county actions were spurred by recent changes in state law that aim to bring medical-marijuana products and their consumers into legal retail pot stores licensed by the state. With that state plan requiring all marijuana shops to be state-licensed by next July, city and county officials are now starting to lay the groundwork for clamping down on the largely unregulated medical-marijuana shops.
The city’s plan amounts to three steps. It allows City Hall to revoke city business licenses for pot shops that don’t have a state license. It establishes a new city license for state-licensed pot businesses. And it creates priorities for enforcement against medical-marijuana businesses.
Medical shops that opened before 2013 and are in good standing with the city will be allowed to operate until the state issues new retail licenses by next July.
Seattle initially was allocated 21 retail store licenses by the state. When the state folds medical products into retail shops, David Mendoza, a Murray policy adviser, guesses that Seattle will get 20 to 30 additional retail licenses. That means not all of the city’s older dispensaries are likely to remain open after next July.
Only one pot-business representative testified before the council Monday. On behalf of three older medical-marijuana businesses, Philip Dawdy called the city legislation “in good shape” and encouraged the council’s support.
July 14, 2015
Liquor board closes business for violations
Leonardtown, MD - It should be a clear warning to bar businesses who sell their company to a new owner who doesn’t follow through with St. Mary’s County Liquor Board regulations: You can still be liable.
The board fined Judith M. and Gordon H. Ragan Jr., previous owners of the Dew Drop Inn in Hollywood’s Sandy Bottom $1,500 Thursday, July 9 for changing the name of the business and selling its alcohol stock to new owners without notifying the board they were doing so.
“The Dew Drop Inn is doing business under new management as the Hollywood Shakers,” Board member Tammy Hildebrandt said. “The corporal went to the business and saw the signs. Mr. Ragan indicated that he had sold the business and had nothing to do with it. Nothing had been done to change the name as required by alcoholic board,” she said.
“As I see it, there are two issues,” said board member Aaron Mathis. “The first is the trade name and the second is stock.”
“As far as the first violation, an employee did change the sign,” said Ragan’s attorney Nathaniel Chapman. “He was unaware he was not supposed to do that. He has been told to cover the signs and put up the Dew Drop Inn sign. He still has it.
“The second violation was a simple misunderstanding,” Chapman added. “It was nothing the license holders knew they were doing wrong. We will do anything the board wants us to do.”
Hildebrandt noted that the restaurant/bar had four prior violations for intoxicated patrons.
Liquor Board Chair Linda Pachinsky asked if the new owners had applied for a license yet.
“No,” Hildebrandt replied.
Board Member Betty Currie made a motion to fine the owners $1,000 for the first violation, seconded by board member Kevin Hill. The motion passed and Pachinsky warned it must be paid within 10 days.
“According to regulations, the old owner is still responsible for this license,” Hildebrandt said. “We do have businesses sell and when they come in for the application package they are told if new ownership is going to operate the business the previous owners have to pay the new owner as an employee until new ownership has been applied for and approved. The new owners can make an application [none has been made as of yet], you will not hear that application until August.”
As for the selling of stock without authorization, Hill made a motion for a $500 fine and suspend the license for the Dew Drop Inn for the violation they admitted to.
“The license is suspended until July 17,” he added. “If they submit if not, the license is suspended until we get an application.”
“We’ll be posting a closure notice on the door today,” Hildebrandt said.
July 14, 2015
Ocean Springs, MS
Ocean Springs aldermen approve short-term rentals
OCEAN SPRINGS, MISS. — The Ocean Spring Board of Aldermen has adopted an ordinance to regulate the growing business of people renting out homes on a short-term basis and charging higher rates than for monthly renters.
The ordinance will give these businesses a permit, a business license and a tax number so they can begin paying sales tax and room tax.
The ordinance was adopted Tuesday night.
There are between 24 and 29 of the businesses in the city already. The new ordinance caps the number at 35.
Mayor Connie Moran told The Sun Herald she was disappointed in the compromise point, but said, "I'm just glad to get something on the books."
The compromise provides short-term rental owners will take their application before the Planning Commission instead of the Zoning and Adjustment Board.
That was an issue because the zoning board already handles bed-and-breakfast businesses. Also, there are people on the planning commission who are against short-term rentals and are vocal about it.
Planning Commissioner Mary Marr Beckman said such rentals are a commercial endeavor and don't belong in a neighborhood. She said there's one across the street from her home and, "I just know it's not good for our neighborhood.
"We don't mind yearly rentals, but this coming and going is a different story," Beckman told aldermen.
Beckman told the aldermen she could be objective, she just didn't want one in her neighborhood.
Other highlights of the new ordinance"
— When a property is being considered, the neighbors will get certified letters alerting them to the proposal, a sign will be placed in the yard of the property and the proposal will be advertised.
— If the property is in a subdivision with a homeowners association, the association must approve.
— The license is not transferable if the property sells.
July 9, 2015
Umatilla expands definition for business license
Umatilla is expanding its definition of a "business" to include landlords and contractors coming in from neighboring cities.
Umatilla landlords and out-of-town businesses doing work in the city will pay $30 a year for a business license.
City Manager Bob Ward said the city’s business code hasn’t changed, but staff have decided to expand their interpretation of what it means to “do business” in the city.
“What we’re doing is taking that more literally,” he said.
As far as Ward is concerned, if people are earning income from a business activity in Umatilla, they need a license. That means landlords renting out a few houses or Hermiston contractors doing a roofing job in Umatilla are getting notice for the first time that they will need to go down to city hall and obtain a license.
Ward said people have accused the city of trying to make more money, but said the city’s real intent is to build a list of contact information based on the licenses.
“If a home is on fire and the tenant isn’t home, the landlord might want a call,” Ward said. “We can go through the county property records to get a name and address but there’s no phone number attached.”
He said tracking businesses through the licensing system will help the city be able to quickly contact business owners about everything from code enforcement issues to incidents involving law enforcement.
“We’re not always contacting them because they owe us something,” Ward said. “We could be contacting them because we know something they would want to know, too.”
Not everyone is happy with the change.
Jack McWhinnie, who owns two rental properties in Umatilla, said he thought it was “absurd” when he got a letter telling him he needed to get a business license.
“I just can’t believe the city is stooping this low to hit the property owners,” he said.
McWhinnie said he could afford the $30 but it was the principle of the thing that bothered him. He said he felt that the city was trying to raise extra revenue and that he thought there must be something better for the staff to do than to “just start nitpicking” at landlords.
McWhinnie and a few other people testified against the change in policy at Tuesday’s city council meeting.
July 8, 2015
Fort Smith, AK
Fort Smith, Conway are larger Arkansas cities without a business license fee
A survey of eight of Arkansas’ larger cities shows Conway as the only city other than Fort Smith not collecting a business license fee.
Reinstating a business license fee is one of the options Fort Smith city staff has presented to the Fort Smith Board of Directors to cover a shortfall in the city’s pension contributions for police and fire employees. The fee was dropped more than 30 years in exchange for business support of a sales tax increase.
According to City Administrator Ray Gosack, the city’s LOPFI (police and fire pension) fund will be insolvent by 2021. And that insolvency was pushed from 2019 to 2021 by a recent Board vote to reduce benefits under the pension plan.
During a June 23rd study session, the Board looked at three options on reinstating a license fee. The first option could generate $1.976 million. It would collect $20 per employee for businesses with employees from 1 to 500. The fee would be capped at $10,000.
The second option could raise at least $1.435 million with a plan that would charge a business $20 per employee from 26 to 500 employees with a cap at $10,000 a year. Businesses with 25 or fewer employees would not pay a fee.
The third option would charge a flat fee of $150 for all businesses and raise an estimated $761,550 a year. The cost to manage all three options is estimated to be $107,000 a year.
The survey, conducted by city staff, looked a the fee structure in Conway, Fayetteville, Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Little Rock, North Little Rock, Rogers, and Springdale. As noted earlier, Conway is the only city to not have a fee. Following are some of the details in survey from cities who have a business license fee. Fort Smith staff did not ask each city for annual revenue from the fees. However, Springdale did report that its fees generated $137,699 in 2013, and $133,419 in 2012.
Home-based fee of $22 per year
Non home-based fee of $35 per year
• Hot Springs
Fees are based on business category and range between $75 and $1,500 a year.
Fees are based on business category and range between $25 and $2,500 a year.
• Little Rock
Fees are based on business category and range between $75 and $2,700 a year.
• North Little Rock
Fees are based on business category and range between $90 and $1,000 a year.
Fees are based on business category and begin at $40 and increase based on factors such as employees, hotel rooms, and restaurant seats.
Fees are based on business category and range between $40 and $300 a year.
Many of the cities have a lengthy list of business categories and various fees for each. Hot Springs has a $75 fee for a business that sells fireworks, a $100 annual fee for “couriers and messengers,” a $200 fee for a business in poultry or egg production, and a $1.50 fee for businesses “primarily engaged in the seasonal parking of automobiles on open air lots.”
Jonesboro has a $35 annual fee for barber shops with one chair and a $10 fee for each additional chair. A hotel in Jonesboro with 150 rooms or more has a $400 annual fee. Manufacturers in the city employing more than 300 pay a $2,500 annual business license fee. Restaurants with 20 “chairs or stools or less” pays $50 a year. Restaurants with more than 300 chairs or stools pays $300 annually. And if you plan to operate a Turkish bath in Jonesboro, be prepared to pay a $35 annual business license fee.
In Rogers, manufacturers pay a $50 base plus $3 for “each employee or owner working 25 hours or more per week.” A restaurant in Rogers with more than 75 seats pays an annual business license fee of $150. Hotels with one to six units pays $50 a year, plus $3 for each unit above six.
A majority of the Board members have told The City Wire they either do not support reinstating a business license fee or want to see more budget cuts before they consider new fees or taxes.
City staff is expected to present refined options to address the pension shortfall during a July 14 study session. The Board could vote on other options at a July 21 board meeting.
July 8, 2015
Liquor revamp: New license, guidelines, laws
A retail liquor license is a coveted thing in the service industry world. Now, the Wyoming Liquor Division has awarded one more to the City of Douglas, and it will be up for grabs in August, along with new guidelines to picking who can have one.
Besides the availability of a new license, the city has also come up with new criteria to follow during the application process alongside an ongoing process to revamp and rewrite the city ordinances regarding liquor licenses and service of alcohol.
“It’s not that it was wrong before,” City Clerk Karen Rimmer explained. She has been at the forefront of the ad hoc committee to overhaul the ordinance and is known in the city administration to be well acquainted with the complexities of liquor licenses and laws.
“We’ve just learned what not to do and what doesn’t work,” she said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean it will be more restrictive.”
City officials say they hope to simply make it more clear.
City Administrator Tony Tolstedt said the process is not unlike updating the city master plan last year, or the more recent revamp of the city’s land development regulations.
“The best practices change and update from time to time,” Tolstedt said.
This is also true of the city’s application process for awarding liquor licenses. In previous years, the coveted retail licenses were unsuccessfully sought by businesses like Safeway and Maverik after divisive city council votes by two different city councils and for different reasons.
“One issue that came up with Maverik was their proximity to the new school across the street,” Rimmer said. She also remembered a comment at council about putting a liquor store next to a gas station where someone would get fuel, buy alcohol and get back on the highway.
However, a different council later awarded, Liquor Cabinet a retail license even though it sits next door to Grasslands Market.
Tolstedt hopes the addition of official guidelines might help to make future decisions more consistent. These guidelines include looking at the application business’ location (if it exceeds the need of an area, is within 500 feet of a church, school or daycare facility and so on), the viability of the business and financial plans, and when the business would plan to be open for business in cases where construction or renovation is required.
Guideline No. 1 may be the most important, but also the most subjective, stating, “The health, welfare, quality of life, or peaceful enjoyment of the people residing in the vicinity . . . shall not be adversely affected.”
These guidelines were officially adopted at the June 22 Douglas City Council meeting and will be in place for the application process for the newly available license. The city will be accepting applications Aug. 1–31 for consideration by the council.
The ad hoc council includes a representative holding one of each type of liquor license (retail, bar-and-grill, restaurant), members of city council and representatives from the Wyoming Liquor Division. This committee continues to work toward a deadline of Aug. 31. Part of the committee’s direction is to give a presentation of the new ordinances, and administrators plan to advertise and directly invite public stakeholders such as the Converse County Liquor Dealers Association to weigh in.
July 6, 2015
Jackson County, OR
Jackson Co. issues $600 citation to non-compliant dispensary
Jackson County, Ore. -- A dispensary in Jackson County is currently operating without a necessary land use permit and now they're paying for it.
On Tuesday, Jackson County Code Enforcement officials gave Pharm to Table a $600 citation. Pharm to Table is a medical marijuana dispensary located in the 3500 block of South Pacific Highway.
"They issued us a $600 citation a few days ago for being out of compliance for their land use permits that they're in the process of adopting," said Jason Rott, the Owner and Administrator of Pharm to Table.
Kelly Madding, the Jackson County Development Services Director, said the citation was issued because the dispensary doesn't have the land use permit that's needed to operate lawfully.
In addition, at this point dispensaries haven't been given the green light yet in Jackson County.
"Jackson County's ordinance to allow medical marijuana facilities does not take effect until July 26th," said Madding.
Until then, if Pharm to Table stays open, Madding said the county will continue to cite the business $200 for every day they're open.
"Ideally they would cease to operate but if they don't, what will happen is we have the ability to cite them up to $200 a day, no more than $10,000," explained Madding.
Rott said he intends to keep his business open until he can apply for a permit through the county later this month. He said he assumed the county would be ready to allow dispensaries after May 1st. That's the date local governments' bans on dispensaries in the state expired. However when that date came and went and the county still had yet to finalize their plans, Rott took the plunge.
"We did take that risk once we got our state license to go ahead and open up," said Rott.
Rott said the decision to open without the county land use permit was a business decision. However now, he said his decision to stay open is based largely on his medical marijuana patients who rely on the dispensary for their medicine. Rott also wants to keep his workers employed. But staying open will likely cost him thousands of dollars.
"It is the cost of doing business," Rott said.
Rott has already paid for the $600 citation issued this week.
The fines will stop once Rott submits an application to get a permit after Jackson County's ordinance takes effect.
"We'll hopefully be ready to go and get that land use permit that we need," Rott said.
Rott has hired land use consultants and said they are trying to rectify the situation.
He said he's working closely with the county to become compliant.
Starting Monday, July 27th people will be able to apply for permits to open dispensaries in Jackson County.
It will cost $3,865 to get the proper, Type 3, land use permit.
County officials said the application process, from start to finish will likely take just under three months to complete. Though it's possible if a dispensary is denied a permit, there could be appeals.
People can begin applying at 10 South Oakdale when doors open at 8 o'clock in the morning on July 27th.
Madding said she expects there will probably be a line.
According to Madding, Jackson County's ordinance include the following rules:
- Medical marijuana dispensaries can't be any close than a half mile to each other.
- Dispensaries cannot be within a mile of the VA Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics (SORCC) in White City.
- They can be no less than a thousand feet from a school.
- Medical marijuana dispensaries can also be no less than 250 feet from a park.
June 30, 2015
30 unlicensed contractors hammered in AZ sting
A statewide crackdown targeting unlicensed contractors has resulted in nine arrests, including two people on the Arizona Registrar of Contractors “Top Most Wanted List.”
Five more workers were slapped with civil and criminal citations and 16 others who advertised without a license on Craisglist were issued warnings.
Several other people believed to have been contracting or advertising without a license remain under investigation.
The Arizona Registrar of Contractors, along with law enforcement officers from four counties, employed several tools of their own - used sting houses, targeted sweeps and proactive operations in an attempt to curb unlicensed activity in the state.
In Maricopa County, three men were arrested Tuesday, June 23, after Phoenix police set up a sting house in the 3600 block of N. 45th Pl. in Phoenix. The three men possessed outstanding warrants, were arrested and transported to Maricopa County Jail.
Derek Garcia, 22, of Goodyear, met with undercover agents at the sting house, provided an estimate of $4,800 to perform landscaping work without a license and possessed a Class 3 felony warrant.
Gregory Link, 46, of Mesa, arrived at the sting house, provided an estimate of $1,875 to install tile within the home and possessed one felony warrant and four active misdemeanor warrants, one of which was for contracting without a license.
Charles Rattigan, 49, of Gilbert, toured the sting house, provided an estimate of $2,000 to paint the interior of the home and possessed three misdemeanor warrants, one of which was for contracting without a license.
Also in Maricopa County, AZ ROC worked with officers from the Phoenix and Surprise police departments and arrested two of the “Top Most Wanted” by AZ ROC - Ismael Romero, 50, of Waddell, and John Parks, 25, of Gilbert.
On June 18, Surprise police arrested Romero after he was found to have four outstanding warrants, including engaging in contracting without a license, for a total bond of $17,200.
Romero was taken to Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail, where he was booked without incident. AZ ROC wanted Romero for contracting and advertising without a license. ROS investigators said he performs poor work, is known to take money and abandon a job without work being done and has a history of nine prior complaints with the ROC.
On Thursday, Parks was arrested after meeting with his probation officer. On Monday, Parks was indicted on charges of fraudulent schemes, theft and contracting without a license. He is being held at the Maricopa County Jail on a $10,000 bond and a hold due to a probation violation.
The charges were filed following a three-month investigation into Parks' alleged scamming of an 86-year-old woman out of $26,000 over several months. ROC investigators said Parks was reportedly making minor repairs to her roof. The estimated cost to replace the woman's entire roof is $4,000, ROC said. At the time of his arrest, Parks possessed heroin, investigators said.
In Cochise County, a sting operation was conducted in the Sierra Vista area. Charges are pending against three people. It's too early in the investigation to release any identities. The Cochise County Sheriff's Office and the Huachuca City Police Department were assisting AZ ROC with the investigations.
In Pima County, the Sheriff's Department there arrested three people. Kevin Bennett, 47, of Tucson, was taken into custody on various charges, including an AZ ROC warrant for failure to appear. Two other people, both from Tucson, were arrested on a warrant for contracting without a license. They are Michael Gail, 35, and Guadalupe Lopez, 47.
In Yuma County, the Yuma County Sheriff's Office and City of Yuma Police Department set up sting houses in the 8700 block of S. Avenue "D," 11000 block of S. Paula Avenue and 2200 block of E. 27th Lane. It resulted in the issuances of criminal and civil citations of five men and arrest of one man.
Francisco Avalos, 42, of Yuma, was identified as a sting target. He was located and arrested by the Yuma Police Department on a charge of a failure to appear warrant related to previously contracting without a license.
The other five men - Thomas Lujan, Fernando Marquez, Adolfo Ramos, Lance Savard, and Abraham Sevilla - arrived at one of the three sting house locations and provided estimates for work ranging from $1,500 to $26,000 for pool decks, cabinets and even a detached building. Each person was cited for contracting without a license.
June 30, 2015
Tobacco sales ban in pharmacies formally approved
Hollister City Council votes 4-1 to cease the issuance or re-issuance of tobacco retail licenses, which eventually will snuff out tobacco products in Hollister pharmacies.
Tobacco sales will be banned at Hollister pharmacies after the city council on June 15 voted 4-1, with Raymond Friend opposed, to approve an ordinance amendment that will halt the issuance or re-issuance of tobacco retail licenses.
The council previously heard from San Benito County Public Health Officer Dr. Anju Goel, M.D., who advocated for a ban on the sale of tobacco products, which she said will provide health benefits that will significantly outweigh the loss of revenue to pharmacies.Hollister City Manager William Avera said that since tobacco sales licenses are typically applied for in November and issued in January, local pharmacies will have six to seven months to remove tobacco products from their shelves.
The ordinance details legislative findings that will be used to advocate for the tobacco sales ban, including a 2012 study that found that 1 out of 6 adults (18 percent) in San Benito County smoke, compared to 15 percent in the state of California as a whole. "Children are particularly influenced by clues suggesting that smoking is acceptable," the report says, referencing sales of tobacco in retail establishments. "By selling tobacco products, pharmacies reinforce social perceptions of smoking, convey tacit approval of tobacco use, and send a message that it is not so dangerous to smoke."
The report notes that 78 percent of independently-owned pharmacies in the state have become tobacco free, though tobacco products are still sold in 94 percent of chain drug stores. Of the seven pharmacies in San Benito County, three do not sell tobacco and one of the four that does is reviewing that policy at the corporate level.
Hollister resident Michael Nix spoke out against the ban on tobacco sales during the public comment period, saying that while he agreed that tobacco use is not beneficial to health and well being, he is "worried about (the ordinance) setting a precedence" that could result in the ban on other retail products in the future. "This council feels that it is better suited to make personal choice than its citizens," Nix said, noting that he believed pressure on pharmacies from consumers would be a better way to encourage the cessation of tobacco sales.
Friend made no comments before his vote against the ordinance.
June 29, 2015
Lower permit fee for Jackson mobile food trucks
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - Call them meals on wheels, or simply food trucks. You may have seen some in the Jackson area.
These are hot ticket items in larger metro cities. Now they may flourish having to pay a one-time yearly $500.00 permit fee in the city.
It's called food on the move. The city of Jackson already has an ordinance over the food truck vendors, and now they made it a little easier for them, allowing them to move from one spot to the other and set up shop.
"We are really happy," said Councilman Tyrone Hendrix. "Yesterday we passed an ordinance to allow the food trucks here in the city of Jackson to have more access to different places."
"This allows us to roam around Jackson without having to pay a $500 food permit every time we stop," said Steve Steinbock, owner of two Tito's Taco mobile units.
These mobile food trucks are literally magnets for places like construction sites and events.
"There's no parking downtown," added Steinbock. "People typically don't want to move so this is a great concept."
Now when it comes to free enterprise competition with local restaurants, there is built in protection.
The law is we have to stay 300 feet away from any restaurant, a 360 degree radius," said Steinbock.
Steinbock owns two brightly colored trucks and he says the new ordinance is certainly helping their business. Ironically the fee charged by Jackson is not the only one required. Rolling food trucks must get permitted by a number of state and local agencies.
Our cameras were rolling when the Department of Revenue rolled up to check his permits.
How much does it cost to sell food out of the back of a truck? The fees do add up.
For instance, on top of Jackson's $500.00 permit fee yearly, The State Department of Health permit fees range from $30 up to $250.00 per year depending on what they are cooking and serving up.
June 26, 2015
Business privilege license requirement ending
As of July 1, businesses no longer need to purchase annual business privilege licenses in Fayetteville and many other cities and towns throughout North Carolina.
The state legislature last year voted to take the licensing away from local governments following complaints that the licenses - a means of taxing the businesses - were wildly inconsistent from city to city and even within individual cities. The licenses were as small as $10 for some businesses and hundreds, even thousands of dollars for others.
The license was a tool for keeping track of the types and locations of stores, commercial offices and other businesses. This helped with city planning, zoning and infrastructure management. It also was used as a source of revenue for city services.
Fayetteville as of early 2014 was taking in about $1.1 million from these fees.
June 26, 2015
City adopts new method for collecting business license fees
Business owners and operators can expect to pay for their business licenses through the city a little differently going forward as the way fees collected were changed at Tuesday’s, June 23, meeting of the Board of Aldermen.
An ordinance was approved at the meeting that amended the municipal code to allow the fees of certain business licenses to be collected through the city’s Utilities Department in conjunction with water and sewer bills.
With the new collection method, the city will also be reducing the amount it collects from the fee — previously $25, the new fee will be broken down into equal installments of $2 over the course of the year.
City Administrator Darin Chappell said the new collection method could result in more revenue being collected as businesses that were previously not paying their fee will have to do so or have their utilities shut off.
He also said the city will not be paying someone as often to track down the $25 fee.
Mayor John Best said the new method for collecting fees will ensure that all Bolivar businesses are on equal ground when it comes to doing business in the city.
Under the ordinance, businesses will also have the anniversary date for renewing their licenses, a relatively automatic process under the new system, established as the month in which applied for the license, rather than a set month each year for all businesses in the city.
For businesses that do not receive a utility bill, they will continue to pay their business license fee on an annual basis.
June 24, 2015
Irvine Council Eliminates Business License Fee
The Irvine City Council Tuesday night eliminated the city’s $51 business license fee, a move that members of the council’s Republican council majority tout as standing against over-taxation by the government.
The councilman who first proposed dissolving the tax, Jeffrey Lalloway, declared it the “first time” he’s “ever heard of a city or government eliminating a tax.”
Council members voted 3-1 to undo the tax, with Mayor Steven Choi the only no vote. Councilwoman Beth Krom, who has expressed opposition to cutting the tax and is the only Democrat on council, was absent from the meeting.
Eliminating the business license fee is the latest move by the Republican council majority to steer Irvine in a more conservative direction after years of governing by a Democratic council majority.
Last month, the council repealed a living wage ordinance that requires city contractors with contracts valued at $100,000 or more to pay all their employees working in the county at a level that at least matches the lowest paid city employee.
Choi argued that slashing the business license fee would have a negligible effect on attracting businesses to Irvine while transferring a nearly $1 million burden -- the amount that the business license fee raised last fiscal year – to city residents.
At the last meeting, Lalloway’s colleagues supported eliminating the tax but not the business database program it finances, saying that it benefits city officials to know who is setting up shop in town by allowing them to make sure the businesses comply with various laws. The program costs over $600,000 to maintain.
Lalloway said the decision is Irvine’s way of making a ”major statement” to other governments to look at slashing taxes rather than adding to a “massive taxation” system.
Lalloway said that Americans in the same tax bracket as retired professional basketball star Yao Ming likely pay more in taxes than the 50 percent of personal income Ming pays to the Chinese government.
“I would hope in some way this can motivate other cities, counties, states, to look at their own internal taxing systems, and try to make it easier for the middle class,” Lalloway said.
June 24, 2015
Barnegat Township, NJ
Second-Hand Dealer Ordinance Tweaked in Barnegat
The Barnegat Township ordinance regulating second-hand dealers is being amended to exempt antiques shops and similar businesses from painstaking record-keeping of merchandise transactions. The amended ordinance was introduced at the June 8 township committee meeting.
The ordinance had been recommended by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office as a tool to stem the flow of illegal drugs, since thieves could steal items and then pawn them or sell them at second-hand stores for cash to buy narcotics.
Karen Barchi, owner of Bay Avenue Antiques in Barnegat Township, had been requesting changes since shortly after the ordinance was adopted late last year. She and other business owners met with township officials to see if revisions could be made.
Barchi started a petition drive at her store, in which she collected more than 500 signatures. The petition said the ordinance “places severe restrictions, record-keeping and reporting requirements on both businesses and individual owners of vintage items who hope to sell these legally owned and/or inherited items to local dealers in secondary market shops.”
“The scope of the definition of second-hand goods is much too broad and includes too many items that are not proven to be desirable commodities sought after by thieves,” the petition read. “Laws and reporting requirements are already in place for precious metals, scrap and pawn, which covers electronic and computer equipment.”
Barchi said the ordinance required her to take a photo of the seller, the item sold and a copy of the seller’s driver’s license. She then forwarded them to Barnegat Police Chief Arthur Drexler, who then sent them to a national database. That created a hardship because she would have had to document each individual item, on the same day they were received.
She had also requested that antiques stores be excluded, and she apparently got her wish as the ordinance also exempts flea markets/garage sales, thrift shops and consignment shops. At the time, Barchi said people looking to sells goods for drugs would not likely frequent her type of business. Dealers in jewelry, precious metals, coins, computers and electronics are still included.
In addition, the new ordinance would do away with a $1,000 bond and a $100 annual license. A $250 software maintenance fee remains.
The amended ordinance also allows dealers to photograph similar items together instead of individually.
“We needed to tweak it,” said Mayor Susan McCabe. “The business owners had some concerns, and I feel we have come up with a fair resolution.”
A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for the next meeting, on Monday, July 20, at 6:30 p.m.
“I’ll wait to make comments until then,” said Barchi.
Tony Greco, owner of Greco Jewelers and Clock Shop, said he had wished the software fee also would be eliminated.
“I’m still locked into that, and I’m sure the software company will raise that fee down the road,” he said.
June 23, 2015
Muskegon Heights, MI
Muskegon Heights passes liquor control ordinance
MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, MI – Muskegon Heights has passed a city liquor control ordinance that would give it more sway over businesses with liquor licenses.
The liquor control ordinance allows the city to revoke liquor licenses for violating "state and local ordinance rules concerning health, safety, moral, conduct or public welfare," or maintaining a nuisance on the property, such as a building code violation, littering or disruptive entertainment.
The Muskegon Heights City Council on Monday, June 22 unanimously approved the ordinance.
There are 17 businesses with active liquor licenses inside the city limits, said Muskegon Heights Police Chief Lynne Gill. Three have club licenses, eight have licenses allowing them to sell hard liquor, and six have licenses to sell only beer and wine.
"Up until this point, we've had zero ordinances to control these liquor licenses," Gill said before presenting the ordinance at a committee meeting June 15.
Gill said that in Muskegon Heights and elsewhere, he's noticed some businesses selling liquor have unkempt facades, or don't pick up litter their customers leave in the street or parking lot outside.
"Those are businesses that we believe should be operating their businesses in a more community-friendly manner," he said.
If the ordinance is approved, all businesses would be entitled to a hearing with city administration, he said.
The Michigan Liquor Control Commission regulates how businesses with liquor licenses operate, but a local ordinance would be a tool for the city to contact the state commission about problem businesses. An application form -- for businesses seeking new liquor licenses or transfer their licenses -- is also up for approval by the city council.
"It's about time we did something with these liquor licenses," said Councilwoman Bonnie McGlothin.
The city has recently turned its attention on businesses – this spring it also passed an ordinance to keep businesses closed between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. That variance affected three businesses – the Chicken Coop restaurant, a Shell gas station and Odyssey nightclub.
The city later passed a partial variance for Chicken Coop, and a variance for Odyssey because it uses private security and doesn't have many police calls.
"The Muskegon Heights Police Department, we're not private security – we should not have to maintain order on private business properties," Gill said. "They should be maintaining peace on their private property."
Gill said he's also stepped up enforcement against businesses holding after-hour parties.
Councilwoman Kim Sims said that limiting business hours was "reactive."
"The situation you have at Chicken Coop and the Shell is nothing new," she said.
But now, she said, the city is trying to be proactive by tackling liquor ordinances before they become a problem.
Sims said the city would always prefer to work with a business before resulting to enforcement.
"We're looking to partner with our businesses and not go to those measures," she said.
June 22, 2015
Noblesville to hand out new liquor licenses
NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (June 22, 2015) — Selling liquor in Noblesville just got a bit easier, thanks to new licenses to be handed out downtown.
The city recently approved a new riverfront redevelopment district, in an area surrounding the White River that includes its historic downtown square. By designating the district, it can hand out ten liquor licenses in that area to restaurants or bars.
“(They’ll) definitely help a lot of small businesses,” restaurant owner Matteo Dirosa said.
Dirosa, who opened his Italian restaurant downtown 13 years ago, found it difficult to get a license that includes hard liquor, along with beer and wine, because they’re regulated by population and only a certain number are available.
He ended up hiring and paying a whopping $50,000 for the license.
“There were not many licenses in town so we didn’t have a choice,” Dirosa said.
His story is exactly why the city made the move, saying it hopes to attract new restaurants to the west side of the White River, where a $6M park is about to be built and employers like Riverview Hospital are growing more demand.
The licenses will come at a fraction of the cost, only $1,000 each.
“It’s an exciting time for Noblesville because we’re able to take the downtown feeling across the river,” said Bob DuBois, President of the Noblesville Chamber of Commerce.
DuBois called the licenses “an added tool,” pointing out that local restaurants are in high demand in Hamilton County right now.
“People want to have (many) dining options available to them,” DuBois said.
Noblesville’s Director of Economic Development, Judi Johnson, said that the city will accept applications and that it did not expect to grow any kind of bar district, like Broad Ripple.
“It’s a requirement that it’s more of a dining and entertainment venue, not just a place that serves alcohol,” Johnson said.
Dirosa added that he already knew restaurant owners downtown who hoped to get the licenses. When he opened his business, he said there was a noticeable hit in business from customers who dined with friends that preferred mixed drinks or cocktails.
“When we purchased the license it was really a big hit because now we have a full bar,” Dirosa said.
June 22, 2015
Calexico aggressively seeking business license compliance
CALEXICO — The city has launched an "aggressive" effort to collect outstanding business license fees from hundreds of businesses that are delinquent.
Since the start of the year, businesses not in compliance were notified that they had 90 days to pay 100 percent of their delinquent fees as well as any penalties, or face administrative action.
Of the existing 2,667 businesses operating within the city, 670 were delinquent on their businesses license fees as of Tuesday, said City Manager Richard Warne. Yet, the percentage of delinquent businesses is less than in years past.
"The city has collected more (license fees) this year than any other previous year," he said, noting that only about 30 to 40 percent of businesses had been operating with a license before.
Compliance letters have been issued to businesses both found within the city's limits, as well as those found outside but that perform work within the city. The license fees themselves are based on the type of business and estimated gross profits.
Starting in March, the city has issued administrative citations to those businesses that have ignored repeated requests for payment.
The first citation carries a $150 penalty, which rises with each subsequent citation.
"We have issued some businesses three citations," Warne said.
The city is also looking into whether it may have to eventually start revoking the licenses of those delinquent businesses and possibly close them down for failing to comply. But, before taking such an action, the city would work with its city attorney to determine the best course of action.
"Everyone will be given a reasonable amount of time," Warne said. "But no one without a license can operate their business in Calexico."
An added challenge for the city is determining which businesses no longer are operating and need to be purged from its delinquency list. Such an effort is expected to prove time-consuming, especially in the case of the city's hundreds of swap meet vendors, who tend to operate on a itinerant basis.
Of the 679 businesses operating in Calexico without a current business license, 225 of those were identified as swap meet vendors. Established brick-and-mortar locations account for 302 businesses operating without a license, while 152 of those not in compliance come from outside the city.
Staff Writer, Copy Editor Julio Morales can be reached at 760-337-3415 or at email@example.com
June 16, 2015
Stevens Point, WI
City delays vote on refunds for liquor licenses
STEVENS POINT – Business owners looking to save money on the city's most expensive liquor license will have to wait at least a month before a refund program could take effect.
City Council members postponed action this week on a measure that would refund most of the fees for some liquor licenses in an attempt to draw new businesses to town. Money from license purchases goes to the city's general fund, so the grant program would not draw from other taxpayer dollars.
State law allows Stevens Point 55 beer, wine and liquor licenses that cost $500 a year, and all are being used by existing businesses. The city is allowed to provide up to five reserve licenses. The reserve liquor licenses cost $10,000 each, and the proposed refund program would offer reimbursement up to $9,500.
Businesses would be required to derive 51 percent of their revenue from nonalcohol sales to qualify for the grant, which caused some controversy among council members and members of the public.
Barb Jacob, a Stevens Point resident and owner of Big Hunchies Roadhouse at 2408 Division St., said the 51 percent requirement doesn't give bars and taverns a "fair shake" at qualifying.
Council member Shaun Morrow argued that Stevens Point already has a lot of bars and not enough places to eat, and said the 51 percent requirement will help attract the latter.
Other council members were reluctant to eliminate opportunities for bars and taverns with good business ideas.
Mayor Mike Wiza said City Council members would decide whether to give the grant to a new business. Some council members suggested the city prioritize businesses looking to renovate existing structures instead of building from the ground up.
Comptroller Corey Ladick said council members should keep an open mind to both renovation and new buildings because any amount of new construction helps the city's operational budget.
Ladick said the more new growth Stevens Point sees in a year, the more money the city will be able to put into wages and city services.
The council is scheduled to take up the matter again at a July meeting.
June 16, 2015
West Palm Beach, FL
State, BBB, urge consumers to check business licenses before hiring
Is the building contractor you’re thinking of hiring licensed? Along with a couple of dozen other categories and occupations, such as those who sell alcoholic beverages, yachts and real estate, building contractors must have a state license.
As part of Unlicensed Activity Awareness Week June 15 – 19, the Better Business Bureau and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation are reminding Floridians to thoroughly research professionals and businesses prior to hiring and to report suspected unlicensed individuals. Unlicensed activity is against the law —BBB and DBPR take unlicensed activity very seriously because it threatens the safety of Florida’s consumers as well as takes away business from licensed professionals throughout the state.
Unlicensed activity occurs when an individual offers to perform or performs services that require a state license and the individual does not hold the required license. Florida law sets specific rules and guidelines for obtaining professional licensure, and the people who have met these requirements are held to professional standards.
“Choosing the right professional, a licensed professional, is one of the most essential aspects when deciding which business you choose,” said Karen Nalven, President of BBB Serving West Florida. “Hiring an unqualified, unlicensed professional can lead to many headaches and lost money. Don’t be a victim! Hire a licensed professional!”
“Unlicensed individuals often target the elderly and other vulnerable people with high-pressure sales tactics,” said DBPR Secretary Ken Lawson. “They also may lack the proper qualifications, perform substandard work or neglect to finish a project. The best way to avoid becoming the victim of an unlicensed activity scam is to verify licenses and check references before you hire a professional.”
Both BBB and DBPR have online resources to educate consumers on how to report unlicensed activity.
June 15, 2015
City-issued liquor license to stay at $125K
City-issued on-sale liquor licenses will retain the $125,000 market value placed on them three years ago.
Following a short discussion on June 1, a 1-5 Brandon City Council vote stopped any action on Ordinance #528-Setting Liquor License Fee. Alderwoman Jo Hausman was the only councilperson to support lowering the fee, although Alderman Roger Brooks seconded the motion.
City Administrator Bryan Read gathered a variety of city-issued on-sale liquor license fees, and said they ranged from $1,200 up to $130,000. The highest fee, he said, belonged to Spearfish, who chose to auction off its lone license. Read said the Spearfish license received five bids, with the highest bid coming in at $130,000.
A $20,000 fee was listed on the proposed ordinance that would change the fee.
“I couldn’t vote for that. It’s way too low,” Alderwoman Barb Fish said.
Councilpersons Mindy Hansen, Jon McInerny and Blaine Jones also favored making no change to the fee.
“The ink’s barely dry from the last time we changed this,” Jones said.
Two Brandon bar owners – Mark Fonder of Double D Saloon and Dave Halverson of Tailgators – both purchased their respective businesses based on the $125,000 liquor license price.
“When I bought Double D, it was based on $125,000, so I would take a hit (in the value of the business),” Fonder said.
Rob Horrocks, who manages 212 The Boiling Point, also owned by Fonder, said there’s no need to change the fee. “The community kind of demands it,” he said, adding none of the establishments have waiting lines going out the door.
Charles “Mac” McNamara, of the Brandon VFW, also does not want to see the fee lowered.
“If we cheapen the liquor license we’ll cheapen the business,” he said. “If you value the liquor license cheaply, you’re going to get cheap people buying the liquor.”
Three years ago, the Brandon City Council increased the price of city-issued on-sale liquor licenses from $8,785 to $125,000.
But since that time, there’s been little to no interest in the three available licenses.
Until July 1, 2012, a city-issued on-sale liquor license was priced at $8,785 (based on $1 per resident). Alderman Bob Bruning led the charge at that time to increase the price, saying Brandon’s licenses have a higher market value than $8,785.
Bruning felt the price should be comparable to the $190,000 fee Sioux Falls charges.
In 2012, the $190,000 fee equated to $1.25 per Sioux Falls resident.
Based on Brandon’s 2014’s population total of 9,681, at $125,000, a city-issued on-sale liquor license equates to $12.91 per resident.
The last on-sale license issued by the city went to Adrenaline Sports Bar and Victory Lanes. That license, which was returned to the city last year, was priced at the $1 per person rate of $8,785.
June 10, 2015
Carson City, NV
Nevada Legislature: Compromise tax plan hearing Thursday
With less than two weeks left in the regular 2015 Nevada Legislative session, the compromise tax plan designed to balance the state budget could become public today, despite not getting a hearing until Thursday.
Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office rolled out a version of the plan last week getting rid of the complicated 30-category Business License Fee ranging from $400 to $4 million a year that numerous businesses objected to.
In its place was a business license tax of up to $500 for corporations and $300 for all other businesses filing with the secretary of state and a higher Modified Business Tax. In addition, it includes a “commerce tax” levied on the revenues of Nevada’s larger businesses that allows those businesses to offset 50 percent of what they pay in MBT.
There still were objections from lobbyists and lawmakers, who argued part of that proposal looked too much like the gross receipts tax rejected by voters last November.
The vehicle for the new plan is apparently Assembly Bill 464 by Assembly Majority Leader Paul Anderson and Assemblyman Derek Armstrong, both R-Las Vegas.
The proposal will be presented Thursday at 3 p.m. in a joint session of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees.
It was supposed be rolled out Tuesday but those on the inside say details were still being worked out in an effort to get enough support in the Assembly to pass it by a two-thirds margin.
A number of business organizations including the Retail Association of Nevada want to put more emphasis on the existing Modified Business Tax and less on any tax that applies to gross revenue.
While several in the know say it will do that, they say some part of the plan must at least open the door to getting revenue from those Nevada and foreign businesses that currently pay little or nothing.
Whatever the plan does, it needs to generate some $500 million in order to balance the governor’s proposed $7.4 billion General Fund budget.
June 9, 2015
Friday Harbor, WA
Town changes business license rules
Whether you are a new business or receiving a notice in June that it is time to renew, you should be aware of changes to Friday Harbor Municipal Code, Chapter 5.04. The Town amended its Business Licensing Program by passage of Ordinance No. 1563 on June 4, 2015. The Town recommends that businesses review FHMC Chapter 5.04 to insure legal conduct.
The business license year, or the time period that a business license is active, is amended to commence from April 1 to March 31.
For a new Business: A complete application is required before the planned date for commencing business activities.
For an existing Business: License renewals are due by the expiration of the current business license on June 30th. If the fee for renewal is not paid prior to expiration of the business license year, the license shall be null and void after that date, and your business shall be an unlicensed one.
The basic fee for licensing is now a flat rate of $42.00 per year. For a new Business: Town has eliminated the practice of reducing the fee at the rate of $3.50 for each calendar month which has transpired in the license year for new licensees. Licenses issued after October 1st and before March 31st of any license year shall be $21.00 for the remainder of the license year. For an existing Business: Town will reduce the fee for licensing by $10.50 for current renewals with valid licenses through June 2015, in order to accommodate the shorter license year.
Renewal notices will be mailed to existing businesses the week of June 8, 2015. Businesses known to be operating in Town which fail to renew their license in a timely fashion will receive a second notice stating that they are unlicensed.
The $21.00 penalty fee for late renewal has been eliminated. All businesses operating without a license are subject to Class IV civil infractions as may be imposed by FHMC Chapter 1.18.
Engaging in business includes activities occurring “over-the water” or “staged” within the public right-of-way. Town has expanded the Business License Program definitions to clarify that:
“Over-the-water” means engaging in business or staging for business over the water under the jurisdiction of the Town as defined in Chapter 19.04 FHMC.
“Staging” means business or the process of activity planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling business resources in Town. For additional information regarding the Town Business License Program, contact the Town Clerk at 360.378.2810 or refer to FHMC Chapter 5.04 available at www.fridayharbor.org.
June 8, 2015
Caution needed when penalizing Trenton businesses
T.C. Nelson is paying dearly for someone else's sins.
And it all has to do with the way his city's liquor license laws operate.
Nelson's popular restaurant, Trenton Social, is facing suspension of its liquor license for a whopping 100 days, all because of violations the club's previous owner incurred five years ago.
In an earlier incarnation, the bar/restaurant at 449 S. Broad St. went through some tumultuous times: brawls, liquor sales to minors, noisy crowds and other nuisances.
In March of 2010, police were called twice in 20 minutes, leaving three people arrested and one loaded handgun seized.
Roland Pott, who owned the license at what was then Tikizia, found himself facing 35 separate charges. The penalty for 19 of them: revocation of the license.
This was the grim reality Nelson inherited when he came on the scene, and the grimmer reality he's living with now.
"We're kind of forced to pay the piper on these charges, because you don't get a clean slate when a license transfers," Nelson said last month, after he and city officials arrived at an accommodation of sorts.
As part of a settlement to prevent the loss of his license, the restaurateur agreed to a 100-day suspension spread out over two years.
If the deal is approved by an administrative law judge and the director of the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the license would be suspended for 50 Mondays in the first year, and 50 Saturdays in the second year.
Because of Nelson's proven track record as a good business owner, the city allowed him to pick the days himself, and also granted an exemption on three days when events were already scheduled.
But because 70 percent of Trenton Social's sales are bar-related, Nelson says he has no option but to close on those dry days.
That won't affect just his bottom line, but also the lives of workers – kitchen staff and clean-up crews – who stand to lose shifts.
All this is coming at a time when Trenton Social has begun to attract residents and visitors, who are flocking to events such as the Pork Roll Festival and the Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market.
It's commendable that the city was able to be flexible when it came to the license violations, but it still seems counterproductive to punish a thriving enterprise for offenses it had no part in. Think what a chilling message that sends to anyone considering doing business in – and with – the city.
We'd say it's time to revisit the liquor license policies, keeping those considerations in mind.
June 3, 2015
City looks at new way to collect business license fees
Mayor John Best wants members of the public, including business owners, to provide feedback, on a potential change to how the city collects business license fees.
The Board of Aldermen discussed the proposed change, which would tack on an additional $2 per month to a business’ utility bill, at its Tuesday, May 26, meeting.
City Administrator Darin Chappell brought the proposal before the board earlier this year, saying it will help improve how the city collects the fee, increase the number of businesses actually paying it and “put all businesses on the same level playing field.”
All brick and mortar businesses that have a utility bill with the city will have their business license fee applied in a monthly format on their utility bill. The cost will be $2 per month, in addition to the utility bill.
Non-brick and mortar businesses, such as contractors, will still be able to purchase a business license at a cost of $25 per year. The proposed changes also include having businesses renew their licenses on their anniversary date, rather than all businesses in Bolivar renewing at the same time.
Best said he would like to see businesses provide feedback at the board’s next work session meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 9, at City Hall.
“I would like the opportunity for people to express their opinions,” Best said.
Chappell said it would be ideal to adopt the changes at the June 9 meeting but if the board wants to wait a month, the city can postpone collecting the fee and give businesses a month.
About $20,000 in revenue is brought in annually through business licenses, but Chappell has told the board there are a number of businesses that do not pay their business license fee. By connecting it to utility bills, he said the revenue could increase, even though the fee amount is $1 less.
In conjunction with Best seeking feedback from businesses at the board’s next meeting, new rules governing how members of the public wishing to address the board were adopted at Tuesday’s meeting.
Alderman Thane Kifer had presented a proposed set of guidelines to the other aldermen earlier this month. See accompanying story for more information about those rules.
June 2, 2015
Business licenses added, changed in Langley
A new type of business license is available in Langley, and the fees for existing licenses have changed.
Director of Community Planning Michael Davolio presented the changes June 1 to the Langley City Council, which unanimously voted to waive the first reading and approve them. Davolio implemented a seasonal license that lasts 90 days and increased the temporary license from seven to 10 days.
Adding business license categories creates more flexibility for merchants. Previously, Langley only offered a seven-day or year-long license.
“That’s not the greatest solution for someone who’s only going to be in business for two or three months,” said Debbie Mahler, city clerk and treasurer.
The annual business license fee increased from $50 to $60 for a business outside the city that’s conducting business in Langley. Temporary vendors will pay $30, up from $25 plus, if requested, a $10 renewal fee.
Davolio said he made the seasonal license last 90 days to eventually cover and replace the recently instituted mobile food vendor license. The mobile food vendor season was established between Memorial Day and Labor Day, late May to early September.
May 29, 2015
Key West, FL
Key West looking at raising the cost of business licenses
Businesses across Key West, from massage therapists to gas stations, might see a 5 percent increase in the local business tax.
The proposal is up for a second reading at Tuesday's Key West City Commission meeting and would result in an estimated $65,000 increase in annual revenue, according to city documents.
City Manager Jim Scholl said the additional money would help cover expenses in the city's licensing department and other general-fund expenses. The tax hasn't been raised since 2009.
"There's [consumer price index] increases every year and we haven't done an adjustment for increased costs," Scholl said.
He said the city projects revenue of $1.3 million from the business tax this fiscal year. Payment is due by Sept. 30 of each year.
The tax varies depending on the type of business. For example, a 5 percent increase would increase the fee to $281.14, up from $267.75, for gas stations. Bars with entertainment would pay $203.96, up from $194.25.
Nate Thomas owns Key West Daily Cycle, a bicycle rental company at the Hyatt Key West Resort on Front Street. He isn't happy about any sort of increase.
"They must need [the revenue] for the lawyers' fees," Thomas said, alluding to a $900,000 city payment to the family of Charles Eimers, a Michigan tourist who died in police custody days after a police stop in 2013.
The settlement ended a lawsuit filed by the family against the city and several police officers. The city's insurance covered the payment.
Also Tuesday, Scholl plans to give the commission an update on design plans for a Truman Waterfront park. Asked why the process has taken so long, Scholl said there were a lot of changes over time to what the scope of the project would be.
"The plans are at 90 percent. We're looking at the first phase, which will be mostly infrastructure," he said. "That will start by the end of the calendar year."
The U.S. Navy deeded the 33-acre waterfront, at the end of Southard Street, to the city in 2002 as part of the Base Realignment and Closure process. Over the years, various proposals have been made for its use, including a marina, amphitheater, promenade, sports fields and stables for the Police Department's horses.
The City Commission meets at Old City Hall on Greene Street at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
May 29, 2015
City council approves 31 liquor license renewal applications
The City of Riverton approved 31 liquor license renewal applications in February. The city is due to receive about $39,500 from application fees in addition to an unknown amount from future sales tax revenue.
In accordance with state statute requirements, the city council gave the OK for 22 retail liquor licenses, four club liquor licenses and six restaurant liquor licenses. One license to the Fraternal Order of Eagles Club was approved but later removed after the club status was voided.
The Wyoming Department of Revenue Liquor Division said during a work session with the city council April 14 that in cases where the department cannot approve a license, it is mostly because the club is not recognized for different reasons.
"Clubs are struggling," said chief of enforcement Tom Montoya.
He said many clubs are low on membership and others have a problem following the regulations. The liquor division handles roughly 1,300 licenses in the state, Montoya said.
"Our role is not in the approval process," he said to the city council. "Our role is you have a complete and true application ... You can really think of us as one of your tools."
In their presentation, Montoya and senior agent Kelly Hunt explained to the council the different license types and some of the common problems the department encounters.
"We don't find an enormous amount of violations," Hunt said.
Some minor violations include expired licenses and licenses not posted for the public to view.
Types of licenses
The full retail licenses are the most popular, because they are the least restrictive, most flexible, and allow a bar a package store or both, they explained. In Riverton, full retail licenses encompass Cedar Bar at 413 E. Fremont Ave., Walmart stores at 1733 N. Federal Blvd., The Depot at 110 S. First St., the Holiday Inn at 900 E. Sunset Drive, and River City Bar at 910 S. Federal Blvd.
The license that gives the "biggest headaches," Montoya said, is the limited retail liquor license.
Applicants have to meet stringent guidelines to qualify. The license can be given to a fraternal organization, veterans group, gold club, social club or political subdivision. The license is inexpensive but does not allow liquor to leave the establishment. Sales of liquor are for members and guests only. Riverton's only limited retail license is the Riverton Country Club.
A large source of the trouble in this license is who qualifies as "accompanied guests," Montoya said, because state statue does not define that phrase, so it is interpreted differently by organizations.
Other licenses include restaurant, bar and grill, and resort. The liquor division also has requirements for dispensing rooms.
The licenses belong to the city and county, which can prohibit the retail sale of alcoholic and malt beverages. Businesses can appeal licenses that are not renewed through district court.
May 23, 2015
City may get another retail liquor license
CHEYENNE - The city of Cheyenne's population is growing, and the choice of establishments for locals to grab a cold beer or cocktail could soon grow as well.
The Wyoming Department of Revenue's Liquor Division likely will soon issue the city a new retail liquor license, which could result in the opening of a new bar and/or package liquor store.
The city currently has 36 retail liquor licenses, which allow for alcohol sales both on and off premises. All 36 of those licenses have been distributed.
"At this time, the city doesn't have any retail liquor licenses available," City Clerk Carol Intlekofer said.
So if a new bar and/or package liquor establishment wants to open up shop in the city, the owner would have to buy an existing license, which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The number of liquor licenses the state allows cities to distribute is based on population totals. As populations grow, the state Liquor Division issues more licenses.
To be eligible for one additional retail liquor license, Cheyenne's population must exceed 60,500. A recent report from the state's Economic Analysis Division puts the city's population at 62,845.
In light of this population report, Intlekofer said she is "hopeful that the city will at least be able to receive authorization for one additional retail (license)."
Tom Montoya, a compliance manager with the state Liquor Division, said he will "really start crunching the (population) numbers next week" and issue cities new liquor licenses accordingly.
Who ultimately gets the potential new license, and when, is out of his hands, he said. "The (Cheyenne) City Council has total control over that."
The council will consider a plan Tuesday regarding what to do if the city is issued an additional license.
The plan involves holding off on issuing the license for a period of time to allow anyone who might be interested a chance to apply. Once the city has a pool of applicants, the council would then decide who should get the new license.
Local economist Dick O'Gara said giving businesses access to additional liquor licenses is good for the economy.
"It would be a positive thing for Cheyenne," he said.
"Because the state's liquor licensing system is convoluted and based on population figures, rather than demand and the free market, we have a demand (for licenses) that's greater than the available supply.
"Not having these licenses readily available to meet demand has definitely hurt the economy. (Additional licenses) help give the consumers more choices, more places to shop and keep people from going elsewhere. And that's a good thing for the local economy."
May 21, 2015
North Bend, WA
Business licenses and badges required for North Bend solicitors
The city of North Bend requires all those engaged in business within the city limits to obtain a city business license.
Additionally, a solicitor’s license is required for those engaged in the door-to-door sales of for-profit items, and any person engaged in such activity is required to wear a photo identification badge issued by the city upon their person in a visible location at all times.
If you choose to answer the door to a solicitor who is unwilling to present a copy of their business license, fails to show a photo identification badge or causes you concern or makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, call the Snoqualmie/North Bend Police Department by calling 9-1-1.