May 3, 2016
Doughnut Hole's quest for liquor license mired in headaches
Lincoln Journal Star; www.journalstar.com
By RILEY JOHNSON / Lincoln Journal Star
The opportunity to sell beer and booze to those huddled up in the Railyard on Husker gamedays has led to a liquor licensing mess inside the Public Market.
The Doughnut Hole's owner has asked the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission for the right to expand its offerings to help offset high rent for the space.
"You're paying for (a space) which doughnuts alone don't justify," said Omaha attorney Mike Kelley, who represents owner Ryan Funke, after a special hearing Monday.
But there's a problem: Public Market tenant Breezy Island Ice already has a liquor license, and under state regulations, only one business may license an indoor area.
The Doughnut Hole's future there now rests in part on whether it gets permission to use the space for something city officials hadn't intended when the area first opened in September 2013.
"When we invested heavily into the development of the Public Market, it was for it to be small business startups like what you see on the streets of a public market," said Assistant City Attorney Tonya Peters.
"Vegetables, craft goods, whatever being sold so that we had something there other than alcohol."
Breezy Island, which sells shaved ice drinks, asked the state for a liquor license to sell alcoholic drinks as well and was ready to "rock and roll" as the Public Market prepared to open, Peters said.
City officials then thought they would only have one liquor license holder in that space, who would sell from their counter into shared indoor space, she said.
Other bars and restaurants located in the West Haymarket building hold liquor licenses and sell drinks through windows that open into the Railyard.
But Breezy Island Ice used informal agreements to sell beer out of the windows of Public Market tenants Maize Popcorn and The Doughnut Hole to customers in the Railyard, Peters and Funke said at the hearing.
"It was not the intention, I believe, of the commission or the city (to say) it was OK to sell out those windows, and until this came before my desk I had no knowledge this was going on," Peters said.
Funke, who is part owner of Railyard bar and restaurant Gate 25, bought The Doughnut Hole on May 1, 2015.
He said he agreed to continue those informal agreements initially but later decided his business couldn't afford to continue as it was and would seek its own liquor license.
The city initially denied that request, prompting a hearing before the state commission.
After negotiating with the city, they worked out options where they would allow the pastry shop to sell alcohol into the Railyard but not over its front counter in the Public Market.
That plan required the addition of partitions inside the space to prevent violations.
But the Public Market's landlord, TDP Phase 1 LLC, on Monday said it opposes any modifications to the space.
Ultimately, Funke must decide by May 3 whether The Doughnut Hole intends to renew its lease, which expires in September. The Public Market has already lost The Normandy, one of its original tenants.
Liquor Control Commission Executive Director Hobert Rupe said he would recommend the commissioners grant the restricted license to The Doughnut Hole.
The commission will vote on the license request and whether to specifically define Breezy Island's license next month.
To Rupe, this case was the first legal hiccup arising the creation of entertainment districts in Nebraska.
"You've got to remember this was the first entertainment district," Rupe said at the hearing. "We're seeing what we did right and wrong."
Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.
SOURCE: http://journalstar.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/doughnut-hole-s-quest-for-liquor-license-mired-in-headaches/article_90118ec8-5376-568d-813d-cf644148b0fd.html More...
April 28, 2016
San Francisco, CA
Business Licenses For Some SF Uber And Lyft Drivers Cost Hundreds More Than Expected
By Eve Batey
Many of the 37,000 or so San Francisco Uber and Lyft drivers who learned last week that they were required to have a business license to ply their trade in the city have another shock in store when they go to comply with the regulations, as they're also getting hit with hundreds of dollars in penalties and fees.
As reported last week, SF Uber and Lyft drivers got a letter from the city last week telling them that since they're all independent contractors, drivers who work more than seven days a year are legally required to have a San Francisco business license.
As Caleb reported last week, the licenses "cost $91 each, annually, and if every driver were to register — an outcome that is highly unlikely, as enforcement may prove difficult and the number of drivers who currently operate could differ from that 37,000 estimate — the city would generate $3.37 million a year."
It might be time to up that figure, however, as drivers who are heading out to get their licenses are now being told that they're also on the hook for an additional $155 in fees and penalties for every year they worked without the license, CBS 5 reports.
According to driver Michael Sicard, who spoke with CBS 5, “Uber and Lyft said that this is a new rule,” and that he'd "even emailed inquiries asking if there are any other permits or licenses that I’ll need and they said no.”
Lyft maintains to CBS 5 that the rule is new, saying that “We do not believe the city had made a decision about how to treat ride-sharing drivers for business license purposes until very recently.”
But the rule isn't new, City Treasurer Jose Cisneros emphasized last week, saying that “This has been a law that has been around for many years. It’s very clearly spelled out on our website — the law here in San Francisco requires you to register your business with the city."
"If they missed that requirement, they are still obligated to do that.”
CBS 5 reports that when Sicard "contacted [sic] there Treasurer’s office, he was told the only new thing was is that Uber and Lyft finally handed over a list of all their drivers to city officials." "Handed over" might be a bit vague, however, as according to a press release from the Treasurer's Office, it took "two years of enforcement work, including multiple requests for information and subpoenas to get sufficient data about business operations from TNC’s domiciled in San Francisco."
According to the Chron, "Lyft said it had complied with the Treasurer’s request for tax data on all its drivers in 2014 and 2015, as it was legally obligated to do," and while Uber declined to comment, in an email to drivers they said that "We are also unsure as to how the treasurer's office obtained addresses for Uber drivers and we are looking into how that could have happened."
But however it happened, the genie is out of the bottle now, as even Uber is now saying (via prepared statement) that “As independent contractors, drivers are responsible to follow appropriate local laws.” And that includes Sicard, who needs to pony up more than $500 by May 15 to remain in compliance...or not.
"I don’t have that money and, without the business license, won’t be able to drive to make ends meet,” Sicard tells CBS 5. “So my car will get repossessed and I’ll go into bankruptcy."
SOURCE: http://sfist.com/2016/04/27/business_licenses_for_some_sf_uber_1.php More...
April 19, 2016
Lynchburg City Council approves changes to business licenses
The News & Advance; www.newsadvance.com
By Sherese A. Gore
After nearly 20 years with no changes, Lynchburg’s business license tax structure underwent modifications this week.
Restructuring the business license tax was an item brought forward for discussion during Tuesday’s Lynchburg City Council work session by Councilman Jeff Helgeson.
Under the current structure, the amount of a business’s gross receipts determines whether the business will be charged no fee; a flat fee; or a specified rate per $100 of gross receipts.
Currently, businesses whose gross receipts equal $10,000 or less are issued a no-fee business license. In separate unanimous decisions with Councilwoman Treney Tweedy absent, City Council voted businesses whose gross receipts are $10,000 or less would no longer be issued a business license.
During the work session, city Commissioner of the Revenue Mitch Nuckles said labor costs would be reduced by eliminating the no-fee licenses.
City Council also approved a change to the tax structure so businesses with gross receipts between $100,001 and $150,000 will be assessed a flat fee of $160.
Under the current structure, businesses with gross receipts from $100,001 to $150,000 are assessed specified rates per $100 of gross receipts based on the type of business.
Currently, exceeding or generating $100,000 or less in gross receipts determines whether a business is charged a flat fee or is assessed a rate per $100 of gross receipts — a threshold which at various points during council discussion was referred to as a “cliff.”
Under the current structure, a business in the professional category with gross receipts of $50,001 to $100,000 would be charged a flat fee of $50 while the same business with gross receipts of $100,001 to $150,001 would be assessed 58 cents per $100 in gross receipts, or a minimum tax of $580.
A motion to approve a flat tax of $240 for businesses whose gross receipts range from $150,001 to $200,000 failed on a tie vote with council members Jeff Helgeson, Turner Perrow and Randy Nelson voting in favor.
The changes to the tax structure will take effect Jan. 1. The new flat tax of $160 will mean an estimated loss of revenue of $40,363, based upon revenue from fiscal year 2015.
SOURCE: http://www.newsadvance.com/news/local/lynchburg-city-council-approves-changes-to-business-licenses/article_7e3b21e2-31e9-54c3-b3aa-4677b75a4884.html More...
April 18, 2016
San Francisco, CA
Uber, Lyft Drivers Need Business Licenses to Operate in San Francisco
The Wall Street Journal; www.wsj.com
By GEORGIA WELLS and DOUGLAS MACMILLAN
In the regulation battle between cities and on-demand ride services like Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc., San Francisco just played a big trump card: bureaucracy.
Drivers for Uber and Lyft need business licenses to operate in their hometown, according to a letter the city’s Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector started mailing to drivers Friday. The city has identified 37,000 drivers, and it has given them 30 days to obtain their licenses. For businesses that earn less than $100,000, the license costs $91 a year.
“I take seriously my obligation to fairly implement San Francisco’s business regulation requirements,” San Francisco Treasurer Jose Cisneros said in a statement. The letter wasn’t prompted by a new law, but by the time it took to identify the drivers, according a spokeswoman for the department.
The requirement highlights the legal complexity of Uber’s and Lyft’s business models, which rely on independent contractors, rather than employees, to shuttle passengers. Those contractors must comply with local laws which may differ in many of the hundreds of cities around the world where they operate.
“Uber partners with entrepreneurial drivers and as independent contractors, they are responsible for following appropriate local requirements,” a spokeswoman for Uber said in an email. The company is still exploring how the licenses for San Francisco will work.
Uber, valued at more than $60 billion by investors, faces an array of legal challenges. A class-action lawsuit claiming the company improperly classifies its drivers as independent contractors is set to go to trial in California in June. The requirement that these drivers get licenses to operate as a business may bolster Uber’s argument that the drivers aren’t employees.
San Francisco isn’t the first city to require Uber and Lyft drivers to get a business license. In San Jose, Calif., at the southern end of Silicon Valley, Uber and Lyft drivers are only allowed to pick up passengers at the city’s airport if they have a city business license. However, San Francisco is one of the biggest markets for the two on-demand ride companies.
The city said it has spent about two years laying the groundwork for requiring the business licenses. A spokeswoman declined to comment on where it got the data on the identities of the 37,000 drivers. The city currently has 105,000 registered businesses in total.
The spokeswoman said that registering for the business license won’t mean any additional taxes for the drivers.
San Francisco’s requirement that drivers display their business registration certificates bothers Lyft.
“We have serious concerns with the City’s plan to collect and display Lyft drivers’ personal information in a publicly available database,” a spokeswoman for Lyft said in an email. “People in San Francisco, who are choosing to drive with Lyft to help make ends meet, shouldn’t have to compromise their privacy in order to share a ride.”
Write to Georgia Wells at Georgia.Wells@wsj.com and Douglas MacMillan at email@example.com
SOURCE: http://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-drivers-need-business-licenses-to-operate-in-san-francisco-1460762952 More...
April 13, 2016
Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
Georgetown’s Liquor License Ban Lifted
The Hoya; www.thehoya.com
By Charlotte Allen | HOYA STAFF WRITER
The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board recently lifted Georgetown’s 27-year-old restaurant liquor license moratorium, allowing establishments in the District to begin applying for licenses April 11.
The decision will not affect the limit of liquor licenses for nightclubs and taverns, which remains at six, because of a separate Washington, D.C. law that cannot be amended or rescinded by the ABC Board.
The moratorium was implemented in 1989 in response to noise and vandalism complaints from Georgetown residents regarding patrons of establishments that were permitted to sell alcohol.
The moratorium capped the number of restaurants that could attain a class C/R license, which permits the sale of beer, wine or spirits on premises. The only way for a new business to obtain a license was to purchase one from another restaurant, at prices that could run upward of $10,000.
Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration Public Information Officer Jessie Cornelius said the ABC Board took into account public opinion and current neighborhood conditions in its decision to lift the moratorium.
“A hearing was held by the Board to receive public comment on Feb. 24 and written comment was accepted on the issue through March 4,” Cornelius wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Input received from Georgetown community and business groups supported lifting the cap on restaurant licenses because the issues of noise, trash and vandalism — which were the original catalysts for the moratorium — had improved.”
The recent change in regulation is largely due to support given by the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E, which represents Georgetown, to lifting the moratorium.
Advisory Neighborhood Commissions are advisory boards that provide official citizen representation to governmental bodies. There are 47 commissions in the District run by volunteer commissioners who are popularly elected and serve two-year terms. The Georgetown commission specifically reviews all development in the historic district as well as all liquor licenses.
Vice Chair of ANC 2E Ed Solomon expressed support for the end of the moratorium, stating that it reflects a balance between restaurants and stores in the neighborhood.
“The time was right. The moratorium was enacted at a time when the community felt that there had to be some type of control on what was happening 25 or so years ago,” Solomon said. “Now we have a good mix of retail and restaurants here and we would like to see new restaurants come in that the community would support as well as the rest of the city.”
Bill Starrels, another ANC 2E vice chair, said the decision reflects a significant change in the past 27 years — drinking ages are now uniform at 21 years old in the wider District area, which was not the case before the moratorium was enacted.
“To have a beer back then across the Key Bridge you had to be 21 years old, but you could come across the bridge into Georgetown and only be 18 years old to have a beer,” Starrels said. “If you look at the history in terms of where things were with the drinking age and the also demographics you’ll see why it made sense for the moratorium to be set years ago and today it is not that needed.”
Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington legal counsel Andrew Kline said the time had come for the ban to be lifted.
“There was generally support for the lifting of the moratorium this time around. There was a realization by the Advisory Neighborhood Commission and from those in the community that it was serving no purpose,” Kline said. “I don’t think it will change much. There were many licenses not being used that were still available.”
Tom Birch, a third ANC 2E vice chair said the end of the moratorium will not necessarily result in an immediate influx of new restaurants and bars to the neighborhood.
“I expect that we are not going to see an immediate change overnight because all of this takes time,” Birch said. “They can get a liquor license just by applying for it, but they are going to have to find a place to locate and get the capital together and have a business plan and so forth.”
Birch said he hoped that the end of the moratorium will bring positive change to the neighborhood.
“I do think that it is going to create more of a community of really high-quality restaurants,” Birch said. “It’s great that the whole community is so interested in what has been happening, and what’s so important is that the business community and the residential community were in absolute agreement on this issue and came together to work out a solution.”
Solomon emphasized the benefits of lifting the moratorium on Georgetown’s restaurant scene and business community.
“We look forward to the opportunity we are giving to many of the new chefs and entrepreneurs to come to Georgetown,” Solomon said. “It’s going to be a win-win for the residents, the tourists and the businesses, and I think that it will give especially the local community an opportunity to see new restaurants come into our community.”
Restaurateur Ian Hilton, owner of the French bistro Chez Billy Sud on 31st Street, said the end of the ban will attract new businesses to Georgetown, benefitting the neighborhood as a whole.
“The lifting of the moratorium will likely draw more restaurants into the neighborhood. I think everyone knew it would pass. I think it’s a good thing,” Hilton said. “Restaurant operators will look at Georgetown who might not have done so in the past.”
SOURCE: http://www.thehoya.com/georgetowns-liquor-license-ban-lifted/ More...
April 11, 2016
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Governor Walker signs Titletown liquor license bill
Liquor licenses will be much easier to come by for the Packers Titletown development.
Governor Scott Walker was at Lambeau Field Tuesday to sign Assembly Bill 612 into law.
Last year the Packers unveiled their plans for the $130 million development project, located in Ashwaubenon. The villagehas exhausted its liquor licenses creating an obstacle for future sports bars and businesses looking to open their doors in the Titletown District.
The Titletown District bill remedies this license shortage by creating the Regional Transfer Option (RTO), whereby a municipality can sell up to three of its unused licenses to a neighboring municipality. The bill also creates the Premier Economic Development District (PEDD) option, which allows development projects with an assessed value of $20 million or more to purchase two Premier “Class B” licenses.
“We’re happy to be here at Lambeau Field, the home of the Green Bay Packers today to sign this legislation into law,” Governor Walker said. “Assembly Bill 612 helps the Village of Ashwaubenon issue additional licenses for the Titletown District being constructed by the Green Bay Packers, ultimately bolstering local economic development without increasing the liquor licenses available in the region.”
AB 612 was passed by the legislature earlier this year.
SOURCE: http://www.wearegreenbay.com/news/local-news/governor-walker-signs-titletown-liquor-license-bill More...
April 8, 2016
Inspectors say lanyards make it easier to spot business licenses on Washington Road
WRDW News 12; www.wrdw.com
By Alma McCarty
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- It's no surprise that every year people are trying to make money when thousands of people flood into Augusta for the Masters. This week, countless vendors under white tents line Washington Road are hoping to make a deal.
For the tents, temporary licenses are necessary. And now, inspectors have an easier way to make sure everyone has them.
The sights of Washington Road during Masters Week go as follows - traffic, pedestrians, and tents for miles.
"We can't count. There's a lot of them," joked inspector Rebecca Greer.
Even if you're selling water bottles, chances are you need license to set up shop. If only for this one week a year.
"We may catch a few that don't but usually, everybody gets it ahead of time and knows what to expect when we come out here," said Greer.
Out of town vendor Joe Phillips made sure he followed checklist.
"No badge, no sale," he said, "I'm just really glad to come and be a part of it to be honest with you."
Right beside his stand of sunglasses, a local business sets up in what they call a perfect location. Matt Perez with Marcella's Fine Cigars says Masters Week is easily one of the busiest times of the year.
"Everytime [patrons] come in, they see the cigars and say, oh hey we'll have a cigar afterwords," he said.
The cigar shop renews a permanent license for their permanent location each year, but they know the drill to sell here.
"We had to get an additional one because it's in a different location," explained Perez.
Both vendors don a lanyard from Augusta's Planning and Development department, easy for inspectors like Greer to spot.
"So far they've been doing real well," said Greer.
The inspectors deal mostly with the vendors selling things, but as for those sitting with signs to buy and sell badges, officials say they need a state and county approved broker's license.
SOURCE: http://www.wrdw.com/home/headlines/Inspectors-say-lanyards-make-it-easier-to-spot-business-licenses-on-Washington-Road-374546421.html More...
April 6, 2016
Accelerate Illinois’ Modernization: Your Business License, Now Digitized
Government Technology; www.govtech.com
BY HARDIK BHATT, CIO, ILLINOIS
Digital licenses ware made available to over 1 million licensees, who can now view and print a license wherever and whenever needed, including displaying it on a mobile device.
Editor's note: This 30-day blog focused on Illinois' IT modernization was originally published on LinkedIn, and is republished here with permission.
It is time to celebrate a success.
Previously we have talked about innovation coming out of agencies that then need to be scaled enterprise-wide to make quick, high-value, customer-centric transformation. Today, I would like to share an example of that.
Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations (IDFPR) regulates over 250 different professions and 1.2 million illinois licenses. IDFRP Secretary Bryan Schneider was tapped by Gov. Bruce Rauner last year to lead the department's team of 450. Bryan has a long and distinguished career in the private sector, most recently as the Divisional Vice President – Health Law for Walgreens, Inc. Under Secretary Schneider's leadership IDFPR achieved a major customer-centric milestone last week.
Schneider announced a paperless initiative for IDFPR.
Paperless licensing and renewals were implemented for the professions licensed and regulated by the Divisions of Real Estate and Professional Regulation. The transition away from paper-based renewals and licenses means that regulated professionals will now be able to renew their license quickly and easily online, and be provided proof of licensure through email and IDFPR’s License Lookup application. The move to paperless technology is part of the IDFPR's ongoing efforts to modernize the state’s regulatory agency and will save the state nearly $3 million in postage, paper and printing costs over the next five years.
Last week, IDFPR took one more step toward automation. Digital licenses ware made available to over 1 million IDFPR licensees. A Licensee can view and print a license wherever/whenever needed, including display it on a mobile device.
One key thing to note is that 100 percent credit for this automation goes to IDFPR: to Schneider, CIO Sunil Thomas, Chief of Staff Brandon Purcell and the IDFPR leadership team. This was envisioned and executed 100 percent by the agency. We will now look to scale it enterprise–wide. As we continue the technology-infused transformation at the state, we are looking to expedite these type of innovations in one agency and copy/paste them throughout the enterprise.
Let's congratulate IDFPR for successful progress towards automation and an Illinois Business licensee for having it slightly easier to do business in the state of Illinois.
SOURCE: http://www.govtech.com/state/Accelerate-Illinois-Modernization-Your-Business-License-Now-Digitized.html More...
April 1, 2016
Noblesville aims to expand liquor licenses
By Olivia Lewis, firstname.lastname@example.org
NOBLESVILLE — Sunrise Cafe at Uptown in Noblesville is a family-friendly breakfast restaurant. That is what it has been for years, and the newest owner plans to maintain that reputation, though he says he has heard skepticism.
A bright orange sticker had been on his restaurant window for a few weeks. The sticker was to notify city residents that the restaurant was eligible for a liquor license. The small breakfast cafe has never offered alcoholic beverages. But an alcohol permit process through the city's new Riverfront Redevelopment District could give Sunrise the ability to sell Bloody Marys and screwdrivers by summer.
On Tuesday, owner Jonathon Smith joined several other Noblesville restaurateurs who have been approved for a new alcohol permit.
“It’s not going to be like Broad Ripple downtown,” Smith said. “But at least it gives people more options to go out and enjoy food and drink and quality.”
Last year, Noblesville created the Riverfront Redevelopment District, spanning the White River, to revitalize downtown and to build upon nearby economic development projects such as the city’s $6 million Federal Hill Commons, where an amphitheater, market space and open area for events are planned. The hope was that the project would encourage businesses and consumers to come downtown.
With such hope came 20 new liquor licenses (10 three-way for beer, wine and liquor and 10 two-way for beer and wine) under a provision of state law within the district. The liquor licenses were provided by the city as an incentive for businesses that remained or wanted to build in the area. Within months, numerous restaurants applied for the three-way licenses, encouraging the city’s assistant director of economic development to approach the City Council to allocate more.
Seven existing and two new downtown businesses have been approved by the city for a three-way license. Those nine businesses submitted applications with the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission and have been approved or are awaiting approval. Four other existing and two new businesses have approached the city with interest in the last remaining three-way licenses but have not applied.
No businesses have sought one of the 10 two-way licenses.
Alaina Shonkwiler, assistant director of economic development in Noblesville, said in the past the city neglected the river and saw it as a divider to indicate areas of the city. By using the river as a central location, the city hopes to capitalize on downtown expansion.
“The goal was really to catalyze more unique opportunities for our citizens,” Shonkwiler said. “Take advantage of entertainment, restaurants, a cultural scene for our city and specific to the downtown core.”
So far the city says the plan and its additional alcohol licenses are working.
“We were thinking this was an attraction tool, and at this rate it’s become more of a retention and expansion,” Shonkwiler said.
Although the district can have an unlimited number of licenses, Shonkwiler said she will request only five more three-way licenses in April.
Existing business owners said buying the district license just made sense. Some restaurants, such as Sunrise Cafe, didn’t have a license at all, while others, including Courtney’s Kitchen, upgraded from a two-way to a three-way license. The city sold the licenses for $1,000 each, much less than what restaurant owners outside such a redevelopment district would typically pay on the open market.
The General Assembly earlier this week sent to the governor a bill that would afford Boone and Hamilton counties 24 additional three-way licenses, but at a cost of $40,000 per license. The state typically limits the number of available alcohol permits in an area based on population.
Smith said the low price of $1,000 left little risk for Sunrise Cafe. When he heard other restaurants in the district were buying the license, he decided to do the same.
“If someone new is coming to town, then they have to wait their turn,” Smith said. “We all want to support each other, but there’s a little bit of competition in there, as well.”
Smith plans to sell Bloody Marys, screwdrivers and fruit-infused alcoholic drinks by summer. He has registered for a mixology class to better understand how to make alcoholic beverages. He plans to keep his business open past 2 p.m. for happy hour.
State regulators have allotted Noblesville 32 typical licenses, but the city has not had any three-way licenses available in more than two years.
Carrie Courtney knows because she was calling every month trying to find one.
“I was kind of trying to stay on top of it,” the owner of Courtney’s Kitchen said. “So when the opportunity came open, I jumped on it.”
Courtney’s Kitchen previously had a two-way license that was up for renewal in November, she said. A three-way license wasn’t a necessity, she said, but it gave her business a competitive edge on the chain restaurants surrounding the Riverfront Redevelopment District.
Courtney said her business has blossomed since she upgraded her license.
“The biggest thing were margaritas on the patio for those warm sunny days and Bloody Marys with breakfast,” Courtney said. “We were getting requests for those.”
SOURCE: http://www.indystar.com/story/money/2016/03/09/noblesville-aims-expand-liquor-licenses/80619598/ More...
March 31, 2016
Bill granting Easthampton 8 new liquor licenses moving through state legislature
Mass Live; www.masslive.com
By Mary Serreze | Special to The Republican
A bill that would grant Easthampton eight new "over-quota" liquor licenses has been reported out of committee on Beacon Hill and will soon head to the full Massachusetts Senate for a vote, said Sen. Don Humason (R-Westfield), who in November introduced the special legislation on behalf of the city.
The committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure reported the bill with a favorable recommendation on Feb. 29, Humason said.
"Senate Counsel is now doing third reading edits," said Humason in an email. "The whole Senate could vote on it within the next few weeks. Then it would go to the House for their approval."
The bill's language gives "highest preference to establishments located in the mill industrial zone and the downtown business zone in the city of Easthampton." It's not clear what criteria or process the city's Licensing Board will use to implement that provision.
Once the bill is approved by the Senate and the House, the licenses will be available for the Licensing Board to award as it sees fit. Under state law, all local licensing decisions need approval by the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.
In Massachusetts, liquor licenses in any community are limited according to a population-based formula. Easthampton is already over-quota in its liquor licenses, meaning that any additional permits can only be issued through special legislation.
The Easthampton City Council in November, after two evenings of debate, voted to petition the Legislature for eight new full-pour liquor licenses. The licenses will be for establishments where drinks are consumed on-premise, and will not have to be tied to establishments that serve food. Existing or potential restaurant or bar owners will have to apply to the local Licensing Board in order to be considered for the licenses.
The initiative was supported by Mayor Karen Cadieux, who said in November that new licenses would be important for the city's economic development.
Once an over-quota license is issued, the Licensing Board will not be able to transfer it to another location, but may grant a license to a new applicant at the same location. In all, city businesses hold 41 liquor licenses distributed among restaurants, bars, package stores, clubs and more.
Twenty-three of those licenses are "all-pour" permits, five are for beer and wine only, three are "farmer-brewer" malt licenses, and the rest are for stores. In addition, Shelburne Falls Coffee on Union holds a seasonal beer and wine license.
Mary Serreze can be reached at email@example.com
SOURCE: http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/03/bill_granting_easthampton_8_ne.html More...
March 28, 2016
Johns Creek, GA
Business License Renewals Due March 31 In Johns Creek
By Kristal Dixon (Patch Staff)
JOHNS CREEK, GA -- Businesses in Johns Creek have until March 31 to renew their business tax certificates by submitting a business tax return with full payment of all fees and taxes.
Business owners can come to City Hall at 12000 Findley Road Suite 400 to file tax certificates, more commonly known as business licenses, but the city also will mail renewal applications in early January.
Failure to receive a renewal application does not relieve a business of responsibility to pay its business tax by the deadline. Late payments are subject to a 10 percent penalty and interest of 1.5 percent a month. Business licenses will be considered on time if they are postmarked by March 31.
SOURCE: http://patch.com/georgia/johnscreek/business-license-renewals-due-march-31-johns-creek More...
March 25, 2016
Glenview to consider liquor licenses for salons
Chicago Tribune: www.chicagotribune.com
By Phil Rockrohr | Pioneer Press
Glenview trustees directed village staff on March 15 to create a new liquor license for salons, after two new businesses asked to serve alcohol to customers.
After a lengthy debate, the majority of trustees supported charging $2,000 for each such license, requiring food be served with the alcohol, and placing no limit on the number of drinks served to each customer.
Sarah Kuechler, assistant to the village manager, said Glenview staff will prepare an ordinance for consideration at the Village Board's April 5 meeting.
Glenview officials sought the board's input after Ten Friends Blow Dry & Style House, which opened at 2671 Navy Blvd. earlier this month, and Anthony Vince' Nail Spa, which is scheduled to open at 2620 Navy Blvd. next month, asked to serve alcohol by the glass, Kuechler said.
Anthony Vince' already serves alcohol at four other locations, and Ten Friends serves alcohol at its Hinsdale and Deer Park locations, she said.
After researching the issue, Glenview staff discovered 11 other communities offer such licenses to salons, including Deerfield, Glencoe, Lincolnshire, Mount Prospect and Vernon Hills, Kuechler said.
Trustee Paul Detlefs suggested the board drop the cost of the proposed license to $1,000 each, given that seven of those 11 communities charge $1,000 or less for theirs.
"I don't have any problem with this at all," Detlefs said. "I'm concerned about the fee. I think it's awfully high."
Trustee John Hinkamp disagreed.
"I'm fine with the price," Hinkamp said. "If anything, I would go higher. They're in this to make a profit. Nobody is forcing them to get a liquor license, if they don't find it profitable."
Trustee Deborah Karton questioned whether serving food is necessary, but Trustee Scott Britton said making food available helps prevent customers from getting very drunk.
"We insist they serve food so we hope that they don't get completely bombed," Britton said. "If we allow bars that don't have food, we're going to be opening a can of worms. I think we leave that as is."
Karton also challenged the need to limit the number of drinks to two or three, as done in other communities.
"The only concern I have is with somebody getting overly served on their day of beauty," she said. "I'm not sure we want to cap the number of drinks."
However, Karton also expressed concern about how many employees in a given salon would be certified to serve alcohol and recognize when to stop serving a customer.
Ten Friends, which offers 10 wines for sale by the glass, allows only specialized employees certified in Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training to serve alcohol, owner Cathleen Stoelting told the board.
"We completely separate the duties between licensed cosmetologists, who provide the services in the salon, and our hospitality staff," Stoelting said. "They're all BASSET-certified and are the only ones allowed to touch alcohol."
Stoelting called it "very rare" that a Ten Friends customer consumes more than one drink in a visit.
Trustee Philip O'C. White said limiting the number of drinks is not necessary because they cost so much in salons.
"It's a very expensive place to drink," White said. "I don't see this as becoming a problem or becoming a place people go not necessarily for beauty or relaxing purposes but to drink, because it's too expensive."
Kuechler said barber shops will be covered by the ordinance as well.
Hinkamp questioned whether tanning salons or massage parlors would be included.
"It's kind of broad on health and beauty services," he said.
"That is a very good question, one that we've discussed," Village Attorney Eric Pratt said. "We will certainly provide the board a sort of laundry list of services."
Phil Rockrohr is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.
Copyright © 2016, Chicago Tribune
SOURCE: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/glenview/news/ct-gla-liquor-license-tl-0324-20160324-story.html More...
March 24, 2016
Asotin County, WA
March 23, 2016
Aiken hospitality tax will cut cost of business licenses
News 12 WRDW-TV; www.wrdw.com
By Logan Nester
Aiken S.C. (WRDW) -- Aiken’s hospitality tax went into effect June 1, 2015. A month ago, a vote to repeal the tax failed. In the meantime, $700,000 from the tax is being used by the city for economic re-investment. A new position in the city is funded by the tax. John McMichael started as Aiken’s first Business Vitality Manager in January. McMichael says, "The time to make changes and look to improve is not when you're down and out, it's when you're up and moving."
McMichael acts as the point person for everything business in the city. "We kind of act like matchmakers, really. We put people together that would be mutually beneficial to their businesses."
Cindy Rudisill, Owner of Cyndi’s Sweet Shoppe, is excited about working with McMichael. Rudisill thinks it’s a good time to own a business in downtown Aiken. "You can come in here and spend 50 cents or come in and spend a little bit more," Rudisill says.
The hospitality tax is also expected to put money back in the pockets of business owners. The city’s website says $160,000 from the tax will be given back to business owners by cutting the cost of their business licenses.
Mayor Rick Osbon says some business owners could save a lot, because the cost of a business license is based on how much a business sells, not how much it makes. "If you're a business that has a markup of 100-150%, that percentage of the business license might not have as big of an effect, but if you're a production business and make only 12-16%, taxing on the gross is a real concern," Osbon says.
The city hasn’t decided exactly how that money will be handed out. When the hospitality tax was pitched, the business license price cut was aimed at new businesses, but Osbon thinks it makes sense to give existing businesses a break too.
"When it was passed, no one knew exactly what the revenue would be, so I think it had to be in place at least a year," Osbon says. That year is fast approaching, and now it’s time for council to hand out the cash. Osbon thinks council will take up the subject in the next couple meetings.
SOURCE: http://www.wrdw.com/home/headlines/Aiken-hospitality-tax-will-cut-cost-of-business-licenses-372508202.html More...
March 22, 2016
Tuscaloosa police arrest men for selling magazines without business license
WVTM 13; www.wvtm13.com
By Chip Scarborough
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. —Tuscaloosa police have arrested three men they said were illegally selling magazines in local neighborhoods.
The Academy Drive subdivision is just one neighborhood that Tuscaloosa police said the three men were going door-to-door, peddling magazine subscriptions without a business license. Officers arrested Frederick Berry, John Clarke, and Gordon Dixon.
Bob and Geri Stone said they will be paying closer attention to who comes and goes in their neighborhood. The couple said they are worried this could lead to more crime in their neighborhood.
"What they may say to others," Bob Stone said. "Who knows what kind of communication network may develop from that."
Authorities said the suspects were given a warning on Monday, but kept soliciting anyway.
"There are certain rules they have to go by," Captain Brad Mason said. "They were made aware of these. They didn't comply with the rules and so that's why they were arrested the second day they were soliciting."
Investigators said the men work for a company called Globe Wide Entertainment, based in Michigan. The Better Business Bureau said the company's sales representatives travel to different parts of the country, selling magazine subscriptions, but customers often never receive them. When customers try to contact the company, they find themselves out of luck.
Tuscaloosa police said there is one easy way to know if a door-to-door salesperson is legit. They are required to present a special identification, issued by the Police Department.
"Each individual solicitor has to come into the Police Department," Mason explained. "Fingerprints, photographs are taken and a background is done."
Investigators said they are now in the process of contacting people in the area who may have purchased a magazine subscription from the suspects.
SOURCE: http://www.wvtm13.com/news/Tuscaloosa-police-arrest-men-for-selling-magazines-without-business-license/38552478 More...
March 18, 2016
Benicia officials announce smoother business license process
Times-Herald News; http://www.timesheraldonline.com/
By Times-Herald staff report
Benicia >> Things should be easier going forward for those doing business or hoping to do business in the city of Benicia, city officials announced.
“The city of Benicia is pleased to announce some changes to the business licensing process that is designed to streamline the procedure for businesses operating within the city limits,” officials said in an announcement. “The city has contracted with the HdL Companies to provide assistance to the business community for their business licensing needs.”
The HdL Business Support Center will provide support for all aspects of licensing, including application, payment snf certificate issuance, officials said. The Business Support Center offers extended telephone support hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays) via a toll free telephone number: (888) 602-0239 or via email at Support@HdLgov.com.
During the upcoming business license renewal period, the center will also offer a variety of online support options allowing for filing and paying a business license online as well as obtaining copies of forms and other relevant information, officials said.
To file, renew, or pay a balance online, visit the city’s website at www.ci.benicia.ca.us and click on the link for business licenses.
SOURCE: http://www.timesheraldonline.com/article/NH/20160315/NEWS/160319927 More...
March 17, 2016
New city software to help with bills, permits, business licenses
Enterprise Ledger; www.EpriseNow.com
By Jennifer Calhoun
City of Enterprise officials plan to roll out new software that should make it easier for residents to pay utility bills and apply for business licenses and permits.
City employees will be trained on the upgraded software from Tyler Technology beginning in April and May, and the software could go live to the public by the end of the year or the beginning of 2017, said Jason Wright, the city’s communications director.
Wright made the comments during an update to Enterprise City Council members during a council work session on Wednesday.
Accessing and applying for building permits and inspections are expected to be among the first items to go live, Wright said. The new features will allow residents and contractors to apply online for permits or to set up inspections.
With the current system, online application is not available.
The new software will also allow residents paying their utility bills to see more detailed analysis of their water consumption, as well as trends in water usage and costs for garbage, sewer and any late fees, Wright said.
Automatic payments will also be available with the new software system. Receipts for all transactions will be sent by email and stored in the city’s system.
Those interested in applying for business licenses are expected to be able to use online services, as well. That software is still being worked out, however, because of the various number and types of licenses. But it is still expected to be rolled out by the end of the year or the first of next year, Wright said.
Enterprise Mayor Kenneth Boswell pointed out that city services will still be available in-person.
“(Residents will) just have the option (to perform these tasks) online,” he said.
Wright said the city had looked into updating the city software system in 2014, but found out that the city servers and equipment, which were near- or at-capacity, couldn’t handle the update.
As a result, city officials in 2015 spent about $175,000 on servers and equipment upgrades that are expected to carry the system for about 10 years, Wright said.
Follow Jennifer Calhoun on Twitter @JenLCalhoun.
SOURCE: http://www.dothaneagle.com/enterprise_ledger/news/new-city-software-to-help-with-bills-permits-business-licenses/article_b9a016d8-e6fc-11e5-9786-1ffd689f66fe.html More...
March 15, 2016
Washoe County, NV
Washoe Business License Applications Moving Online
KUNR (Reno Public Radio); www.kunr.org
By Rocio Hernandez
Business owners will be able to apply and pay for business licenses and permits in Washoe County online, for the first time ever this summer. Our reporter Rocio Hernandez has more.
The regional business license and permits program is an effort by the cities of Reno and Sparks along with Washoe County and the health district that will connect them digitally to customers. Amber Drlik with the City of Reno says this change has been repeatedly asked for in customer surveys.
"This will make it so anyone can apply for a license or a permit 24 hours a day, pay online. They won't have to come into the office; they won't have to mail things in."
The four agencies will also share data between themselves, making it easier for people to submit applications or renewals for business licenses and permits in multiple jurisdictions.
Drlik says customers can expect to pay a small annual technology fee after the program goes live in August.
SOURCE: http://kunr.org/post/washoe-business-license-applications-moving-online#stream/0 More...
March 14, 2016
Falls Church, VA
F.C. Business License Renewals Now Past Due
Falls Church News-Press; www.fcnp.com
By Sally Cole
A message for all Falls Church City business owners: If you have not renewed your business license for 2016, as of March 1, you are operating your business in violation of State and City Code. Licenses renewed after March 1 incur a 10 percent or $10 (whichever is greater) late payment penalty. After March 31, interest penalty will begin to accrue. Avoid extra interest fees, renew now.
If you need any help calculating late payment penalties, call 703-248-5450.
SOURCE: https://fcnp.com/2016/03/09/f-c-business-license-renewals-now-past-due/ More...
March 10, 2016
Holden Council receives revised business license ordinance
The Daily Star Star-Journal; www.dailystarjournal.com
Holden – City Council members will review the revised draft of the city's business license ordinances before taking action on the document presented Tuesday night.
A committee composed of Councilmen Jim Nipko, Jim Gilcrest and Sam Raber, appointed in September, worked on the revisions for several months following a protest by Chamber members in August over a proposal to collect fees from vendors at the Holden Fair.
Nipko, committee chair, said the committee had reviewed ordinances from four other cities “to see how they're handling business licenses.”
He said some sections that were not enforceable or not needed were eliminated.
The ordinance has been reduced from six or seven pages to four pages, he said.
“It's what we think will serve the city best,” Nipko said, adding, “It was a bigger job than we thought it was going to be.”
The revised ordinance states that transient vendors operating during the Chamber-sponsored Holden Fair and rodeos are exempt from obtaining a business license and that the council will establish fees and license requirements for council-approved events, such as the tractor pull.
The fee for peddlers and transient vendors operating in the city at other times is listed as $10 per day.
Raber suggested the council take a month to review and comment on the proposed revisions before taking action on the ordinance.
Mayor Rick Edwards said the ordinance also will be reviewed by the city attorney prior to adoption.
SOURCE: http://www.dailystarjournal.com/news/local/article_28b4c21f-9a20-5339-a290-19fcf351297a.html More...
March 9, 2016
Prescott business license proposal moves to next step
The Daily Courier; www.dcourier.com
By Cindy Barks
PRESCOTT – Details continued to be refined this week in the City of Prescott’s latest push toward implementation of a business license.
Although a final decision has yet to be made on whether to impose an annual license fee on businesses in the city, the Prescott City Council moved a step closer at its Tuesday, March 1 workshop discussion.
Up for discussion this week were questions on the specifics. For instance: Who would be exempt from the license? What information would be required on the application? And how much would the license cost?
Prescott Budget and Finance Director Mark Woodfill pointed out that the license is being proposed to apply to most businesses conducting business in the city, including those physically located outside of city limits that engage in business in the city.
Suggested exceptions include: schools, churches, governments, political organizations, and homeowners associations.
That generated discussion about whether churches should be exempt. City Attorney Jon Paladini pointed out that most communities with business-license programs exempt churches, but require licenses for related church businesses, such as gift shops.
Likewise, thrift stores associated with churches or charitable organizations would also be required to have a license under the proposal.
The city also is proposing exempting “casual activities,” such as yard sales, sales of personal vehicles, part-time seasonal business activities by those under the age of 18, as well as sales of agricultural produce by residents.
Under the proposal, the city would charge $35 annually for the license, and would allow a one-year grace period for implementation.
A business would be required to provide information such as its name and physical location, contact information, start date and sales tax number, type of business, and the owners.
While a vote on implementation of a business license is not expected until May 3, a number of council members have now voiced support for the license.
Councilwoman Billie Orr, who was absent from the council’s earlier discussion, added her support this week.
In fact, Orr maintained that having a business license in place previously would have helped the city prevent its current situation with a proliferation of group recovery homes.
“I believe if we had a business license years ago, there are issues facing our city now that we wouldn’t have,” Orr said. Afterward, she added, “One of the biggest issues with sober living and group homes is that we didn’t know how many there were.”
Orr, who took office this past November, said that when she and other citizens asked about the numbers, the city was unable to respond with good numbers. “We really don’t have the data,” she said. “This is our responsibility.”
Councilman Greg Lazzell has been a vocal opponent of the business license, and he reiterated his concerns this week, questioning how the city would enforce the license.
“If you’re not getting a TPT (Transaction Privilege Tax) license, you’re not going to get this one,” Lazzell said, referring to the compliance by businesses required to charge sales tax.
Councilwoman Jean Wilcox – while allowing that “we’re not going to get everyone” – maintained that “it’s time for us to catch up.”
The city has considered implementing a license off and on for several decades, but never moved forward with the program.
A number of steps are still needed before the license would be implemented. Along with the workshops on Feb. 2 and March 1, another discussion is scheduled for April 5, when a draft ordinance will be introduced. Then, on May 3, the council is scheduled to consider adoption of the ordinance.
If approved, the license would become effective on June 2, and implementation would take place until Nov. 30. The registration would begin on Dec. 1.
Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-642-0951.
SOURCE: http://dcourier.com/news/2016/mar/04/prescott-business-license-proposal-moves-next-step/ More...
March 8, 2016
Huntsville council approves business license for Uber
By Lucy Berry | firstname.lastname@example.org
It's a waiting game for Huntsville residents after the city council approved a resolution granting a business license to Uber affiliate Raiser on Thursday.
City of Huntsville spokeswoman Kelly Schrimsher said Friday afternoon there is no word yet from the Clerk Treasurer's office about whether the ride-sharing company has picked up a business license or paid the $2,000 flat fee, but an announcement is expected soon.
Earlier this month, the council approved two ordinances to allow companies like Uber and Lyft to operate within the city limits. The first ordinance requires businesses to fill out some paperwork and seek council approval for a license, while the second creates a fee structure for the licenses.
"This takes our transportation system into the 21st Century," Mayor Tommy Battle has said, adding, "It's something our citizens have asked for."
Uber is currently available in Birmingham and Montgomery.
SOURCE: http://www.al.com/business/index.ssf/2016/02/huntsville_council_approves_bu.html More...
March 4, 2016
Changes to business licenses in Beaufort could make planning events easier
By Georgiaree Godfrey
BEAUFORT, SC (WTOC) - Changes to business license permits in Beaufort can make preparing for an event a little easier.
The city announced Thursday that individual food truck vendors or other small businesses will not need a business license to sell items at events and festivals. The clause being referred to as a group event license.
It’s supposed to help make it easier for organizers to plan their events and vendors. The new policy applies to all events open to the public within Beaufort city limits.
"The way it was before each food truck had to come and get their license and the organizer had to have a license etc. So we put an event program in now so the event organizer gets one license and says imp going to have 6, 8 or however many they pay for that and then it's over with,” said Beaufort City Manager Bill Prokop.
The city says organizers can also save money with the clause as well, because the license fees only apply to vendors or business that do not already have a license.
So if a food truck is going to be at an event and already has its own license, the organizer would not have to pay to cover them.
Copyright 2016 WTOC. All rights reserved.
SOURCE: http://www.wtoc.com/story/31379974/changes-to-business-licenses-in-beaufort-could-make-planning-events-easier More...
March 3, 2016
Dewey Beach, DE
Uber, Lyft drivers need business license in Dewey
By Chris Flood
DEWEY BEACH — Uber, Lyft and other internet-based ride-sharing drivers take note: Dewey Beach expects the purchase of a $109 business license.
Transportation network companies are the same as any taxi service, and they should be treated as such, said Commissioner Dale Cooke during a Feb. 13 commissioners' meeting, when Dewey Beach commissioners voted unanimously to modify the town’s business license to require these companies to purchase business licenses to conduct business within town limits.
Using the state’s definition, Dewey has defined a these companies as those that use a mobile application or website to connect riders with drivers. It continues by saying these drivers use their personal, noncommercial vehicles with the intention of making a profit.
“If it quacks like a duck,” said Mayor Diane Hanson, implying the app-based companies are similar to taxi and limousine services.
The discussion during the meeting was brief, but the vote was the culmination of a months-long discussion amongst the town, ride-sharing drivers and local taxi companies.
Harris Marx is the local Uber driver who spurred that discussion after he said he was harassed by the town’s police officers for dropping off and picking up clients without a business license.
From the very beginning, Marx has said app-based drivers shouldn’t be required to buy a business license.
In a Feb. 15 email, Marx said he was shocked to hear Dewey’s decision to charge the full $109. This fee is unjustified, and a small percentage of the earnings for a taxi or limousine service, he said.
“For a TNC driver it would be a very high percentage,” he said. “For example, I just did my taxes, and if I had to pay the $109 fee, it would have been 50 percent of my net earnings that I did in Dewey Beach last year. I find that ridiculous and offensive.”
Marx said town commissioners have now affected the safety of people who drink in Dewey during the summer. He predicted the issue will continue to be a public-relations nightmare, because fewer cars will be available for rides home.
“In addition, Uber drivers could protest by creating traffic jams in the town during the summer, which is easy in Dewey because of Route 1 being the only way to get in and out,” he wrote.
David Hastings, president and owner of Jolly Trolley, stood fast on his position.
“Fair is fair,” he said. “It’s awesome technology, but that fact should not preclude them conforming to rules for basic safety and community unity.”
Prior to the vote, Commissioner Mike Dunmyer suggested the town work with app-based companies to see if they would pay the town’s licensing fee to cover all drivers using the technology. This is the evolution of how people are using transportation, and it’s going to be a growing issue, he said.
“This was a chance for the town to be a leader on the issue,” he said after the meeting.
SOURCE: http://capegazette.villagesoup.com/p/uber-lyft-drivers-need-business-license-in-dewey/1483199 More...
March 2, 2016
Business License Reform Being Considered at State House
By Chris Trainor
A new bill filed in the state Legislature would streamline the way cities and counties tax businesses in South Carolina. However, it appears the state’s Municipal Association plans to put its support behind a different upcoming business license measure.
Business license reform in South Carolina isn’t necessarily a new idea, at the state or local level.
For instance, during the heat of last year’s City of Columbia municipal election cycle, then-at-large City Councilman Cameron Runyan pushed hard for the city to institute a plan that would have, during the course of a five-year period, knocked city business license fees down to a flat rate of $100 per business.
Of course, Runyan ended up losing his seat last November, and any momentum for his business license plan seemed to go out the door with him.
Meanwhile, at the state level, Republican Rep. Rick Quinn introduced a bill last year that would institute a flat $100 business license fee across the state. However, Quinn’s bill, introduced in February 2015, has languished in committee.
Now, another business license bill has emerged at the State House, one that seeks to bring a sense of uniformity to a business licensing process that can vary wildly from city to city and county to county in the Palmetto State.
State Rep. Todd Atwater, a Lexington Republican, has filed bill H.4967, the Business License Reform Act. The bill was introduced Feb. 23 and sent to the House Ways and Means Committee. The measure has a number of co-sponsors, most of whom are Republicans, but Richland Democrat James Smith also is a co-sponsor.
Atwater’s bill would, among other things, require local governments to hold a public hearing before adopting any business license fee ordinance, require that the Department of Revenue collect the fee instead of local governments and require that fees be due on Feb. 1 of each year.
The bill also would require local governments to use specific forms, dates, penalties, etc. for business license fees, in an effort to address the hodgepodge of such regulations that currently exists across the state’s municipalities and counties.
Essentially, local governments would still receive business license fees, but the Department of Revenue would collect the fees from the businesses, then remit the funding to the appropriate counties or cities. The proposed law says that the Department of Revenue “may retain up to 1 percent of the tax to defray the administrative costs of the department, but in no circumstance may the department retain more than its actual administrative costs.”
Atwater says, with business license reform seemingly always simmering on the Legislature’s backburner, he is hoping some basic reforms to the way fees are collected statewide can get the ball rolling.
“Some of the other [business license] legislation just hasn’t moved,” Atwater says. “All we are trying to do with this is simplify the process. We are trying to get something moving, so the businesses wouldn’t have to file in multiple jurisdictions and all that kind of stuff. This allows for central collection, it allows for one form and one place of filing. … We are trying to make it easier on the businesses. I’m not even trying to get into whether business license fees are good or bad, in and of themselves.”
Ben Homeyer, South Carolina state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, called the bill “a huge deal for our members.”
“Right now, we have a patchwork of local laws that really complicates things for people who do business in different jurisdictions,” Homeyer said, in a statement. “If you have a store in Columbia and another in Charleston, who have to have two separate business licenses and pay two separate fees to two different local governments on two different days.”
On Feb. 29, Miriam Hair, executive director of the Municipal Association of South Carolina, said her organization would not be backing Atwater’s bill. She says MASC has “worked for a year” with the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and Quinn to agree on a bill, currently being drafted, that would “help business, as well as be supportive of cities in their business license programs.”
Hair says the bill will be different from Quinn’s business license bill of a year ago. She says it would, among other things, establish the last day of April as a standard due date for business license fees and establish a uniform definition of “gross income,” on which business license taxes are based statewide. She also said the Municipal Association would build an online portal, through which businesses could pay their business license fees on the web.
“We are trying to bring structure to the business license tax,” Hair says.
SOURCE: http://www.free-times.com/news/business-license-reform-being-considered-at-state-house-030216 More...
March 1, 2016
Wichita considers massage industry regulations
KNSS Radio; www.knssradio.com
WICHITA - The City of Wichita is considering a new massage ordinance that would require businesses and therapists to apply for a license and permit, respectively.
"Hopefully this gives us an avenue to be able to reduce victimization but at the same time provide better opportunity for enforcement and be proactive," said Deputy Chief Hassan Ramzah.
In 2014, Wichita Police conducted 14 investigation into massage parlors and arrested 11 people on human trafficking and other violations. In 2015, there were 24 investigations that resulted in 22 arrests.
"We have seen an increase in businesses and these types of criminals coming into our community and starting these human trafficking sex for hire type of businesses," said Capt. Kevin Mears.
Currently, there is no state or city law that requires massage therapists to have a license or provide proof of training.
"Our goal is to not cause any issues or problems for legitimate businesses. It is just to give us tools to go against the human trafficking or the illegal businesses in the industry," said Mears.
For more than two years, a committee that included Wichita police, fire, law, finance, pubic works, Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department, and massage industry representatives provided input and feedback on the proposed ordinance.
The ordinance would require a $200 business license or $75 therapist permit. Each would be good for two years. The ordinance will be placed on first reading in March.
February 29, 2016
Regulators to start accepting applications for pot business licenses Wednesday
JUNEAU - A regulatory board in Alaska will begin accepting applications Wednesday for marijuana business licenses. It's the next step in setting up the state's legal pot industry.
To apply for a license, prospective business operators need to have secured a site. That has proven to be a challenge in some parts of the state because of things like location restrictions or local community bans.
Leif Abel, who is with the Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Legislation, says there's a lot of risk for would-be business owners. But he and others say they're passionate about the industry and want to be a part of it.
While the state's Marijuana Control Board will start accepting business applications on Wednesday, it will still be months before pot can legally be purchased by those 21 and older.
SOURCE: http://www.ktuu.com/news/news/regulators-to-start-accepting-applications-for-pot-business-licenses-wednesday/38152268 More...
February 25, 2016
Kenbridge changes business license fee — again
The Kenbridge Victoria Dispath; www.kenbridgevictoriadispatch.com
By Jamie C. Ruff
The Kenbridge Town Council has revised its revision to its business license fee.
At its Feb. 16, meeting, the council removed the $30 processing fee it imposed in January.
Instead, the council decided that if a business’s gross receipt tax comes in below $30, it will have to pay a $30 minimum.
If it is above $30, the business will just pay whatever their gross receipt tax is, depending on the type of business it is.
The business license fee is based on gross receipts and the type of business.
“We messed up, but we’re trying to make it right,” Mayor Emory M. Hodges explained. “It’s not the administrative personnel; it’s council.”
In mid-January, Kenbridge Town Council revised its business license fee — exempting the first $30 of revenue from the fee calculation but adding a $30 processing fee.
Changing the town’s business license fee is something the council started discussing late last year.
From the beginning of the situation, council members said they weren’t trying to raise revenues, but simply to keep the town’s expense of the paperwork from being more costly than the charge.
“My impression was we were trying to weed out the $1, $5, $8” fees, councilman Daniel Thompson said.
“We got sideways on how to word it. I don’t think our intent was to raise everybody’s business license by $30,” Hodges said.
SOURCE: http://www.kenbridgevictoriadispatch.com/2016/02/25/kenbridge-changes-business-license-fee-again/ More...
February 23, 2016
Mount Pleasant, SC
Town reaffirms ‘open for business,’ expands incentives program
Moultrie News; www.moultrienews.com
By Amy Livingston | Business Development Officer
Mount Pleasant Mayor Linda Page and Town Council reaffirmed the Town’s commitment to the growing business community through a unanimous vote to expand the Town’s Economic Development Incentive Program. Future recipients of the grant program will now be eligible for a reimbursement of their business license taxes for up to five years; an increase from two years.
“The economic vitality of our business community is central to increasing our local standard of living, while preserving and enhancing the quality of life for residents, many of whom are business owners,” said Mayor Linda Page.
The Economic Development Incentive Program, launched in 2011, was designed to encourage selective business investment to create a sustainable, diverse economy, a key component of the Town’s Economic Development Strategy. Eligible businesses include companies that can locate anywhere, are minimally dependent on the local economy, and create high-paying jobs.
Businesses are now able to apply for a reimbursement of business license taxes attributable to the location or expansion of the company for up to five years. In years one and two, the business is eligible for up to one-hundred percent reimbursement. In subsequent years three, four and five, the reimbursement declines to up to seventy-five, fifty and twenty-five percent, respectively.
“We’re committed to doing everything we can to promote high-wage job creation that allows our citizens to truly realize the work, live, play Mount Pleasant lifestyle,” said Town Council Economic Development Chair, Councilman Mark Smith.
Other incentives within the program include grants to reimburse the applicable business for: municipal impact fees, building permit fees, and plan review fees. Incentive applications are evaluated by Council based on the stated criteria and are subject to budgeted funds. More information is available on the website comeonovermp.com.
About the Town of Mount Pleasant, Office of Business Development
The mission of the Town of Mount Pleasant Office of Business Development is to advance the Town’s quality of life by fostering an economic environment that is vibrant, favorable to job creation, and promotes the general prosperity of the community.
For more information on the Town of Mount Pleasant, visit us online at www.tompsc.com, view our videos on the Media Channel, subscribe to our news with Notify Me, like us on Facebook, follow us @MtPleasantBiz and download our Apps “Experience Mount Pleasant” and “ConnectMP.”
SOURCE: http://www.moultrienews.com/article/20160222/MN01/160229907/-1/feed&source=RSS More...
February 18, 2016
Alton , IL
Tow company asks city to reconsider business permit denial
The Telegraph; www.thetelegraph.com
By Linda N. Weller - email@example.com
ALTON — A business owner, his wife, neighbor and attorney once again tried convincing city officials Wednesday to reconsider their denial of a zoning change to allow a towing dispatch center in a residential district.
Aldermen, though, did not respond to the comments and questions from attorney Bill Miller; John Swengrosh, owner of Alton Area Towing and Repair; his wife Patricia and neighbor Rebecca Hartman at the City Council meeting.
According to Alton’s ordinance, the issue now should be idle at the city level for a year-and-a-half: “A party shall not initiate the same action for a special use affecting the same land more often than once every 18 months.”
The council instead voted 6-0 on Wednesday to ratify their unanimous, Jan. 27 vote — which was after suspending the rules — against implementing a text change to the Zoning Ordinance to allow one towing dispatch center in an R-2 (single-family residential) district as a special use, with a permit.
Alderwoman Alice Martin, 4th Ward, was absent Wednesday.
That vote last month was in ordinance form. It was a reversal of their Jan. 13, 5-3 vote in resolution form supporting the amendment, including a “yes” vote by Mayor Brant Walker to meet the super majority requirement.
Before voting down the ordinance Jan. 27, aldermen said they had gotten “more information” and consequently switched their opinion. The Alton Plan Commission had issued a negative recommendation Jan. 5, but no alderman had attended the meeting where Wiley and Swengrosh explained their situation and plans.
The rejected text amendment would have allowed the city to issue a special use permit for 826-834 E. Seventh St., for the towing company to operate its dispatch center. Charles Wiley Jr. owns the property, but Swengrosh has been leasing it and previously said he has spent thousands of dollars in renovations. He also said he planned to buy the property.
Miller questioned why there were businesses in that building for 86 years, with none needing a special use permit, until now.
“Everyone, from Day 1, has realized this is a business property,” he said. “We have a situation here where Mr. Wiley is being treated differently. He had a business permit before, he comes back and something changes overnight. The city has allowed businesses for 86 years and changes the game. You can’t pull the rug out from under him.”
Swengrosh said he has operated out of the Seventh Street building for six months. He has no business license for the address, though, because he needed to get the special use permit first.
Thursday, Swengrosh paid for a 2016 business license to operate at his previous location, 2906 E. Broadway, which he rents from Wiley, according to the City Treasurer’s Office. A Telegraph reporter had filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act regarding status of the business license. The office also confirmed neither Swengrosh nor Wiley is in arrears in paying city bills, which would prevent them from obtaining business licenses.
“I have been there six months, and there have not been any complaints, and I’m not parking the trucks on the street at night,” he said of the Seventh Street location. “If they’ve (complaints) have been brought to you, they haven’t been brought to me so they can be rectified. I just want to do business. I ask you to reconsider.”
Swengrosh stores towed vehicles at a lot he owns at 2809 E. Broadway. His company formerly was located at 1519 W. Delmar Ave., in Godfrey.
Patricia Swengrosh asked why the city issued a building permit for work at the property to meet code in August — such as lighted exit signs — when officials would have known her husband planned to move his business to the address.
“They made us do all that work and now won’t give us a business license,” she said. She also asked what “new information” aldermen obtained to change their minds on amending the zoning code that would have allowed the dispatch center.
No alderman answered, although Corporation Counselor Jim Schrempf suggested she contact the individuals privately. There was some question among aldermen last month about Swengrosh doing repairs at the shop, at the corner of Seventh and Spring streets; parking the large tow trucks; and noise from the trucks despite the application only designated the property use as a “dispatch center.”
Hartman said she lives two houses from the property, and the business has been quiet, unlike the previous cab companies that occupied the building. “This business does not bother me, they have helped our neighborhood,” she said. “They drive their trucks at night but I can’t hear them.”
City records show the last time the city treasurer’s office issued a business permit at the address was in 2012 for a cab company, and the building was occupied consistently by businesses before that despite a change in zoning that allowed commercial uses to be “grandfathered in.” After nine months of having no business license, the “grandfather” exemption as a legal, nonconforming use at the property expires, Schrempf said.
Reach Linda N. Weller at 618-208-6450 or on Twitter @Linda_Weller
SOURCE: http://thetelegraph.com/news/77951/tow-company-asks-city-to-reconsider-business-permit-denial More...
February 17, 2016
February 16, 2016
City of Birmingham cracking down on business licenses
WBRC Fox 6 News; www.wbrc.com
By Vanessa Araiza
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - If you own a business in Birmingham, you may want to make sure you're up to date with your business license.
Birmingham city councilors voted to renew a contract on Tuesday that will put more people on the ground checking business licenses.
This is the second year the city has worked with the third party company, Public Resource Management Alliance Corporation.
So far, the city says it's been a success.
"They have been able to identify and collect taxes in the amount of approximately $2 million so far. So, it has worked wonderfully,” Birmingham City Assistant Attorney Yolanda Lawson said.
City leaders said the inspections could generate $3 million in revenue.
SOURCE: http://www.wbrc.com/story/31181715/city-of-birmingham-cracking-down-on-business-licenses More...
February 15, 2016
Menifee denies ranch business license, approves application to detach Valley-Wide Recreation
Valley News; www.myvalleynews.com
Jacob Preal | Valley News Intern
Menifee City Council held a public hearing for an appeal of a Business License Exemption Feb. 3, effectively ruling that ranches are required to obtain a license if they partake in any commercial activity. This includes the boarding of horses that do not belong to the ranch owner. During regular meeting proceedings, the council also requested the Local Agency Formation Commission to consider the detachment of Valley-Wide Recreation and Park District and approved a Joint Use Agreement with Santa Rosa Academy to use Lyle Marsh Park as an additional safe zone in the event of a major emergency.
Wooden Nickel Ranch was established in 1968 as a horse ranch but was since purchased by former city councilman Thomas Fuhrman in 1993. Under Menifee Municipal Code, commercial institutions are required to have active business licenses unless they serve an agricultural purpose “including auxiliary and ancillary uses incidental to the operation of a farm or ranch.” When Fuhrman did not qualify for such an exemption by city staff, he filed an appeal to the city council Dec. 18.
Ben-Thomas Hamilton, Fuhrman’s attorney, argued that the municipal code clearly exempts any agricultural institution from needing a business license. He presented the textbook definition of agriculture from “Merriam-Webster Dictionary” to accentuate his point that the raising of livestock is automatically indicative of agricultural use.
Councilman Matthew Liesemeyer asked about the number of horses living on the ranch. There are currently 18 horses, well above the five per acre standard for personal use.
Taking a more advisory role, City Attorney Jeff Melching chimed in to question the arbitrary use of a general definition, rather than a lawful one and focus the main point of the case – “Is horse boarding an agricultural activity?”
The Council would not budge. Fuhrman himself presented a list of 47 places that board horses in Menifee. “I called eight of them and I would surmise none of them have a C.U.P. to board horses. So in your due diligence, I would like some research done. On your own – because I have done mine – to see the other places that just board horses without a C.U.P.”
The Council unanimously approved the motion to deny the appeal.
In regards to the request to LAFCO, the council seldom spoke. The resolution outlined in the agenda would approve an application to LAFCO to detach Valley-Wide Recreation and Park District from the city. This was cause for alarm for Local Attorney Matthew Duarte who expressed his irritation with documents concerning LAFCO that were “exempt from public disclosure.” He insisted that these are “important issues that the public deserves to know about,” after trying in vain to access information.
“The action of detachment for Valley-Wide is not a city decision. The resolution that’s on consent tonight is for an application for LAFCO,” explained Mayor Scott Mann, clarifying that the resolution is simply due diligence. “LAFCO is the governing body that will analyze all the facts, figures, revenues, expenditures, take all the things that we’ve been saying for two years into consideration. And LAFCO will decide if there is a detachment action.”
The unanimous decision to send an application to LAFCO was prompted after a midyear report indicated six months of successful maintenance of west side parks. Following the Dec. 16 City Council meeting, a notice of intent to adopt the resolution has been sent to LAFCO as of Jan. 4 and the Parks, Recreation and Trails Commission reviewed it Jan. 7. The council has now adopted the resolution.
On a lighter note, Mann, returning from Sacramento, wanted to publicly congratulate Mayor Pro Tem Greg August for his “astonishing” council meeting that lasted only 18 minutes, 39 seconds. The speedy meeting was held in January.
SOURCE: http://myvalleynews.com/local/menifee-denies-ranch-business-license-approves-application-detach-valley-wide-recreation/ More...
February 11, 2016
City cracking down on car tags, business licenses
The Clarksdale Press Register; www.pressregister.com
By: Rebekah Yearout | The Press Register
At Monday’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Commissioners, a big topic for the department heads was catching people who aren’t updating their car tags or obtaining or updating their business licenses in accordance with state law.
Police chief Whit Read said so far, he’s found 100 infractions of people whose tags he believes are not legal and don’t belong to their Clarksdale addresses.
“We’re at a point right now to where we have identified … the out-of-state tags we’ve identified in Clarksdale and the locations where we believe they are residing and these are the county tags,” Read told the board. “In total, it’s 100; it’s 55 out of state and 45 out of county. I want to get with (city attorney) Curtis (Boschert) a little bit more about how we are actually going to address the enforcement issues of it; you’re looking at roughly 100 cases.”
Read also updated the board on the Clarksdale Police Department evidence room.
“Coming up towards the end of the month, we have the agents coming to help us with the property room,” Read said.
“In the property room, the officer in charge is to be commended for organizing and tagging several hundreds of weapons. The amount of work he is doing is really incredible,” said commissioner Ed Seals.
Read agreed, and said he wanted to have that officer commended by the board when the job was done.
Fire chief Obert Douglas gave an update on business license enforcement.
“The last two weeks I’ve had firemen going around checking business permits, it’s kind of astounding what he found. Twelve people came in and renewed their licenses…and there were 10 new businesses that came in and got their business permits,” Douglas said.
Mayor Bill Luckett commended Read and fire chief Obert Douglas for enforcing these laws in Clarksdale.
“I want to commend the fire department and the police department… for checking the business privilege license and the tag violations,” Luckett said.
He reminded the public of the law regarding car tags: If someone moves to Coahoma County from another county in Mississippi, they have until their former tags expire to renew them in the county. If a person has moved here from out of the state, including Tennessee or Arkansas, the person has 30 days to get Coahoma County tags.
Luckett said they’ve especially seen the problem with tags from Memphis, and even Tunica County.
“We’re going to continue to enforce this,” Luckett said.
Public works director Todd Jones said he got a new street sweeper operator and the old machinery repaired, so two street sweepers are in operation and two machines working.
“It was down three months and with one sweeper and even my lead machine is down too, so one machine has been pulling triple duty,” Jones said.
“One of the street sweepers we do have is making a clanking noise. Is it something we’re going to address?” asked commissioner Ken Murphey. Jones replied he’d heard complaints too, and said it was just a conveyer belt, and not causing any harm.
The rest of the meeting was business as usual. Luckett commended John and Naomi Casaceli, the new owners of what used to be the Holy Moly Drug Store and is now Levon’s Drug Store and Diner, at the corner of Issaquena Avenue and Third Street.
“They have moved here, they bought a house on Oakridge, and I happen to have for them something they can hang,” Luckett said, giving the Sydney natives an Australian flag to hang. “Welcome to Clarksdale.”
Luckett also pointed out that a house that burnt last year on the corner of Park Circle and West Second Street was being rebuilt.
“About a year ago, this board agreed to demo the house on the corner Park Circle and West Second, and they’re building a new house. We like people who continue to move to and build and buy in Clarksdale,” Luckett said.
He also said during his comments that the city of Clarksdale’s public works department has installed a disc golf range along the Sunflower River.
“We’ll be getting it in operation in the next few months, and real soon, you can enjoy disc golf across the river,” Luckett said.
A carryover issue from the last meeting was whether Herrin Street could be renamed after Dr. Glenn Gates, the veterinarian who passed away last year after serving the community for much of his life. Gregory Jones proposed changing the street name, and Luckett said the board still supported that as long as there wasn’t a covenant restricting the name of Herrin Street to its current name.
“After the city attorney gets back on that task, that there’s probably a way to recognize Dr. Gates with a street sign,” Luckett said, noting Herrin is “a long street” and residents have expressed concern over changing their addresses. “… But right now, we still need to make that check there aren’t some perpetual rights or not. We’ll know at the next meeting.”
The board approved applying for a grant for cigarette disposal throughout the city, and city economic developer Mac Crank said recycling manager Marc Taylor was filling out the form to have those put in place.
Read also got approval from the board for Sgt. Nick Turner, who resigned from CPD, to come back and work part-time to finish up his cases.
City consultant Bill Coker gave the board an update on the sanitary treatment plant project, which he said needed a change order to accommodate drainage issues.
“We have a request been made on our sanitary treatment plant for a change order. The drying beds… will not drain,” Coker said. “We’re going to have to drop a pump in there and get it dry and then find out what the problems with the valves in it are. … We have the funds to allocate to Landmark Construction, and we’re wanting to add 20 days to give them some additional time on their contract.”
The board unanimously approved this motion.
Boschert, at the end of the meeting, updated the board that the suit Moton v. City of Clarksdale, which alleged the ward lines were redrawn according to racial demographics, has been dismissed.
“Thank you, Mr. Attorney,” said commissioner Buster Moton, whose wife was the lead plaintiff in the case.
The city then moved into executive session to discuss personnel issues.
Rebekah Yearout is the managing editor for the Press Register and can be reached at 662-627-2201 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE: http://www.pressregister.com/article_c632d908-d045-11e5-9978-53da02b9d3cb.html More...
February 5, 2016
Portland bags its ban on snack sales at breweries, but a toast may be premature
Portland Press Herald; www.pressherald.com
The debate over serving pretzels in Portland breweries has taken a new twist.
City officials this week reversed a previous determination that breweries located in industrial zones could not sell prepackaged snacks in their tasting rooms.
The move will allow Allagash Brewing Co. to begin selling snacks from Portland Fruit and Nut Co., Coastal Maine Popcorn and Maine Vintage Kitchen as soon as next week. The request to sell snacks to beer tourists was made so the brewery can help temper the effects of alcohol on customers who might spend an afternoon visiting the half-dozen breweries on Industrial Way.
“We’re just really happy and really grateful they were willing to work with us,” said Jill Perry, the brewery’s retail manager. “This industry is growing so fast and there are so many changes coming at (city officials) from all directions. There are some things that have been in place for a long time that they haven’t looked at.”
Allagash was in the process of appealing the Nov. 3 zoning determination when city officials recommended tabling action by the Zoning Board of Appeals last month so it could re-evaluate what should be considered ancillary or accessory uses to breweries located in an industrial zone. Beer makers commonly sell T-shirts, pint glasses and decals, but a zoning administrator deemed those sales were illegal as well.
The city is now developing a new list of ancillary and accessory uses for breweries, which would permit the sale of snacks and swag.
After becoming aware of the ruling in November, City Manager Jon Jennings said he directed staff to be “a bit more flexible” in its interpretation, as staff worked on developing its new list of ancillary uses.
The Zoning Board of Appeals was scheduled to take up Allagash’s appeal Thursday, but the city’s reversal prompted the beer maker to withdraw it.
NEW CITY LICENSE, FEE UNDER REVIEW
With the snack issue resolved, the city is turning its attention to creating a new license for breweries, distilleries and wineries. Currently, these businesses only require a state-level license to manufacture and sell samples of their products, while restaurants and bars need additional licenses from the city.
As proposed, the new license would cost $500. The fees levied on restaurants and bars range from $702 for a nonprofit liquor license to $2,216 for a restaurant lounge to $2,642 for a Class A lounge license.
The lower fee reflects the fact that breweries, distilleries and wineries can sell only their own alcoholic beverages and are not preparing food on-site.
Janice Gardner, the city’s business license administrator, said in a Feb. 1 memo to the City Council’s Health and Human Services Committee, which will take up the proposal Tuesday, that these establishments are beginning to function like bars and should have some sort of licensing requirement.
“Breweries, wineries, and distilleries are now destinations for consumers to drink at their leisure, consume food from food vendors, and listen to bands,” Gardner said. “This business model closely resembles traditional restaurants and bars. In the interest of fairness, the City Clerk’s Office believes licensing breweries, wineries and distilleries is appropriate.”
BUSINESSES WARY OF NEGATIVE EFFECTS
Heather Sanborn, the co-owner and director of business operations for Rising Tide Brewing Co. in East Bayside, said most breweries are open to the idea of getting a special license, but some are concerned about how the new license requirement could affect breweries already in operation.
“I think there is a very cautious acceptance of the license,” Sanborn said. “We’re concerned about whether there might be unintended consequences.”
The state’s licensing fees for breweries, wineries and distilleries range from $50 to $1,000 a year, depending on the scale of production.
Sanborn said the brewing community is carefully following Portland’s licensing proposal, as well as the city’s efforts to define appropriate ancillary uses in industrial zones.
“These two things are happening at the same time and both could result in the imposition of an additional restriction on how businesses operate and have been operating for many years,” she said. “So far, the process has been good. I think the city is listening to us and taking it under advisement.”
SOURCE: http://www.pressherald.com/2016/02/04/portland-bags-snack-ban-on-breweries-but-considers-a-new-business-license/ More...
February 4, 2016
City to consider raising business license fees
Reno Gazette-Journal; www.rgj.com
The council approved a motion at its Jan. 20 meeting to solicit information from businesses regarding a possible restructure to the city’s business license fee schedule.
City clerk Kim Swanson provided an overview to city council members explaining that revenues generated from businesses that must pay for licenses to operate within city limits would be dedicated to the council’s priorities for the 2016-17 budget, which outlines a need for road maintenance and improvements to city parks.
One major reason to restructure the system now, Swanson said, is that fees have not been raised since 2009. License fees currently are based on the number of employees. A business that has one to three employees, for example, is charged $100; a business with four to 24 would pay $275; and the increments climb to a maximum of $3,000 for 1,000 or more workers.
For commercial businesses, the change to the new system would charge companies that generate up to $250,000 in revenue a $100 license fee, from $250,000 to $400,000 a $275 license fee, and for those that earn $400,000.01 or more, it would be $300 and the gross receipts would apply, so business owners would pay an additional dollar for every $10,000 beyond $400,000.
Home-based businesses currently pay an annual $75 fee, but the proposed changes suggest that such businesses that qualify for a state of Nevada exemption also would qualify for a Fernley fee exemption, though some still would be required to pay the $75 cost.
For out-of-town licenses, no changes are being made at this time, Swanson said. Companies with one to 50 employees would continue to pay $150 and those with more than 51 workers pay $250.
With the office keeping track of 1,186 commercial, out-of-town, home-based and daycare licenses, the majority of fees are derived from out-of-town businesses that do not maintain a physical address within Fernley city limits.
Swanson said it is a staff recommendation to move to a collection of gross receipts, or the total amount of revenue received from the business’ total sources, rather than employee-based fees. She added Fernley is one of the last municipal governments in the state currently not using such a fee scale.
Councilman Cal Eilrich said the staff might want to be prepared to hear from some upset business owners about any adverse impacts any potential increases could have on them with what’s gone on in other jurisdictions.”
“They’re getting nailed,” he said. “You’re going to hear from some upset business owners.”
Councilwoman Shari Whalen said she wanted to make sure that owners receive reassurance that revenues, if approved this year, are used appropriately.
“Is there any way to put in language that we’re not just going to put another position in city manager’s office?” she asked.
City manager Daphne Hooper said it would be made clear that the funds go toward infrastructure.
Swanson said public comment cards were expected to be mailed out Tuesday, with a workshop addressing the business impact study tentatively scheduled for 5 p.m. Feb. 22 at city hall. The city manager and legal department would review the business impact statement by March 1 with the final statement taken before the council at its April 20 meeting for final approval. The new fee schedule would then be implemented July 1. The motion passed 5-0.
Jessica Garcia, email@example.com
February 2, 2016
Prescott Council considers new business-license program
The Daily Courier; www.dcourier.com
PRESCOTT - Simplicity is the city's goal for a proposed new business license, says City Manager Craig McConnell. More...
The possible implementation of a new business-license program will be among the issues the Prescott City Council will discuss at a workshop on Tuesday, Feb. 2.
The meeting will be the first in the council's new schedule, which will feature a 1 p.m. workshop, followed by a 5:30 p.m. voting session. The meetings will take place twice a month - on the first and third Tuesdays.
The council approved a six-month trial period for the new schedule recently in an attempt to get more public involvement in city meetings. Both meetings will take place at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.
The business-license proposal will appear on the workshop agenda, but not on the voting agenda. Mayor Harry Oberg has said the council likely would discuss the idea in a workshop setting at least once more before taking a vote.
On Friday, Jan. 29, McConnell said city officials have been working through a number of details for the proposed new license.
"Simplicity - believe it or not - is the key," he said of the plan the council will discuss on Tuesday.
As an example, he pointed to offices that include a number of attorneys, doctors, or real estate agents. The question, he said, is whether the license should apply to each of the professionals who do business within the larger operation, or just to the main office.
"From the administrative and staff prospective, we want it to be simple," McConnell said. "It does not seem reasonable for each (of the professionals) to have a business license."
That is just one of the questions that have emerged, McConnell said, noting that it is "illustrative of the careful crafting that has to be done to achieve the purpose (of the license)."
Basically, McConnell said he expects the city to view the business license as "a registry," not a means of additional regulation.
The license fee is being suggested as an amount that would recover the city's cost of administering the program, McConnell said - likely in the $25-to-$35 range.
In other action at the 1 p.m. workshop, the council will:
• Hear a mid-fiscal-year budget report from Budget and Finance Director Mark Woodfill.
Along with the report on revenues and expenditures to date in fiscal year 2015/2016, the report also will include a preliminary look at the coming fiscal year.
• Hear a legislative update from Deputy City Manager Alison Zelms, concerning the bills being considering at the Arizona Legislature, which would have an impact on Prescott.
At the 5:30 p.m. voting session, the council will consider just one action item: adoption of a resolution in support of HB 2107, the bill - sponsored by State Rep. Noel Campbell - that would give local governments more authority to regulate structured sober-living homes.
In addition, the voting session will include a presentation from Sherrie Hanna on the exposure of "Downwinders" to radiation from government nuclear testing and federal legislation.
The agenda also includes a presentation by the Kiwanis Club of Prescott regarding the Kayla Mueller Helping Hands Park.
Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-642-0951.
February 1, 2016
Charleston offers online renewal option for city business licenses
The Post and Courier; www.postandcourier.com
Companies and other organizations will be able to renew their business licenses with the city of Charleston through an online service being launched Tuesday.
The system is password-protected and can be accessed at the charleston-sc.gov/cap portal, according to a written statement.
All business licenses issued by the city for 2015 expired Dec. 31.
“This new online service has been a top priority for the city of Charleston,” Mayor Joe Riley said in prepared remarks. “Our goal is to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people to conduct business with our city, and this is just one of the many things we are working on to facilitate convenience for the Charleston business community.”
The new system is aimed at existing licensed companies that will be receiving their annual notices in the mail this month. Renewal penalties are assessed after Jan. 31.
The online system enables users to create an account that will be verified by city staffers within two business days. Once their information is confirmed, applicants can enter their gross receipts from the previous fiscal year and allowable deductions.
The city said it accepts American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa cards as payment. Businesses will receive a paper copy of the certificate by mail within two weeks.
Charleston requires a license for all organizations and individuals who conduct business within its boundaries, even if they are physically located outside the city limits.
Written by: More...
January 28, 2016
D.C. Offers Local Businesses ‘Amnesty’ for Late Fees in 2016
Washington City Paper; www.washingtoncitypaper.com
Posted by Andrew Giambrone
For the first time since 2012, D.C.'s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs will run an "amnesty program" that will allow businesses to comply with local regulations related to licensing and registration without them having to pay certain penalties like those for late renewals and not filing reports.
Starting Jan. 1 and lasting through Feb. 29, 2016, the program offers D.C.-based businesses the opportunity to renew their expired licenses at the price required of brand new entities rather than those that have accrued fees over time. Participation could save businesses potentially thousands of dollars: Failing to renew a business license costs between $250 and $500 per licensing period, not submitting required corporate biennial reports costs $400 per missing report, and reinstating a corporation in revoked status costs $300, meaning all those fees can rack up into the thousands if not paid in years.
"For businesses—particularly small ones—who encounter financial setbacks, the late fees can present entry barriers," explains DCRA Director of Legislative and Public Affairs Matt Orlins, in an email to City Desk. "In 2012, DCRA found a significant increase in business licensing revenue during the amnesty program. That told us that many businesses in the District wanted to come into compliance, but needed an opportunity."
Hundreds of businesses participated in the 2012 program, Orlins adds. However, fines associated with "notices of infraction" for "affirmative actions of wrongdoing," such as illegal construction, would still apply. In turn, business owners could appeal those NOIs to the Office of Administrative Hearings.
The following types of businesses are eligible to participate in the program:
- Businesses operating under an expired license
- Businesses operating without a license, or corporate registration in revoked status
- Businesses operating without registration of commercial weights and scales, UPC, scanners, etc.
In D.C., business licensing fees range from $35 to $1300. More...
January 26, 2016
Northbridge spars with bowling alley over retail food permit
The Telegram & Gazette; telegram.com
By Susan Spencer
Telegram & Gazette Staff
NORTHBRIDGE - The drinking fountain is draped with a chain and cordoned off with yellow-and-black tape in the corner of Sparetime Recreation, a bowling alley and indoor play area at 117 Church St. in the Whitinsville section of town.
The coffee pot that for decades provided free coffee to senior league bowlers is off the counter. The cooler where bottles of soda and juice were stored for sale is empty.
A sign above the bubbler warns customers not to drink from the water fountain or bathroom faucets, per a court order and criminal complaint from the town of Northbridge.
It’s not that the water was unsafe to drink or anyone had gotten sick from the coffee.
The dry setting, complete with visual enhancements, is Sparetime owner and manager Kenneth R. Couture’s response to orders from the Board of Health that he pay the $100 annual fee for a permit as a limited retail food establishment.
The board issued a criminal complaint and took him to court last year after Mr. Couture refused to comply in 2014 and 2015.
“Sometimes, you’ve got to stand up for principle,” Mr. Couture said in an interview.
But that stand against what he calls “overregulation” could be costly.
In December, after a jury found Mr. Couture had violated the state sanitary code and an order of the Board of Health by failing to comply with the permit requirement, Worcester Housing Court Judge Diana H. Horan ordered Mr. Couture to pay a fine of $7,500 to the town.
The potential fines could have exceeded $143,000 under state regulations, because the $500 second-offense penalty for violation of the order could accrue daily.
Henry J. Lane, Mr. Couture’s lawyer, has appealed the order.
Mr. Couture, whose family has owned the bowling alley since the 1950s, resumed management of the business in 2014 after a hiatus during which his brother Wayne had run it for several years. Both Wayne and Ken Couture, when he was previously in charge, had obtained annual Board of Health permits.
After he returned in 2014, Mr. Couture refused to pay the then-increased annual permit fee for the few bottles of soda and juice he sold and the free coffee he served to the senior bowling leagues. He claimed that under the federal Food and Drug Administration’s food code, which the state sanitary code incorporates, “food establishment” specifically does not include “An establishment that offers only prepackaged foods that are not potentially hazardous.”
Both Mr. Couture and Board of Health Chairman Paul R. McKeon claim the other side has a vendetta that’s escalated over the years.
In one incident, the town made a financial settlement to Mr. Couture after a 2009 lawsuit in which Mr. Couture claimed the town and contractor Carlo Molinari Inc. were negligent when the contractor relocated utility lines and severed a sewer pipe leading to Mr. Couture’s business.
“This is just a vendetta against the town,” Mr. McKeon said. “It’s a foolish thing for $100.”
He added: “We’re not telling him he can’t use the bubbler. We’re telling him he can’t do the soda and the coffee.”
“The town is arbitrarily and capriciously targeting our business,” Mr. Couture said. “The federal food code is pretty clear that any hermetically sealed product is exempt."
And as for the town’s including free coffee in its complaint against Sparetime, Mr. Couture said, “Banks, auto mechanics, basically every business in town gives away free coffee.”
He said, “We’re probably the oldest business in the town of Whitinsville. The town is littered with vacant storefronts… and the town is harassing us.”
On Monday afternoon approximately 30 members of a senior bowling league, some as old as 95, kept the lanes busy. Some bowlers bemoaned the town’s action and the absence of beverages.
Leo Lamanuzzi of Upton said: “He’s had coffee forever. There’s no reason why he’s getting put in the hot water like he is. People used to bring in pastries, have a cup of coffee with it - everybody was happy.”
“People need water,” Leigh Backstrom of Grafton said about the closed-off water fountain. “I have to remember to bring my own (now) because I have to have water. I was treated for cancer and I was told never to let myself get dehydrated.”
Paul Webster of Upton criticized what he saw as “bureaucracy” over the permit rules. He said, “I didn’t know Putin was working over here.”
Mr. Lane, Mr. Couture’s lawyer, said the town is enforcing its rules very selectively.
“As we pointed out, the Board of Health passes out candy in a bowl. The Town Hall has water fountains,” he said. “It just seems very arbitrary…. If UniBank would like to serve coffee to their customers or pass out lollipops, that’s OK.”
Mr. Lane said the term “dispensing” a beverage didn’t distinguish between selling or giving it away.
According to Town Manager Theodore D. Kozak, the town has spent a little more than $5,000 so far on legal fees for the case.
Mr. Couture, a Whitinsville resident, said, “I’m questioning why the town is spending this kind of money.” More...
January 22, 2016
January 21, 2016
Los Angeles, CA
City will stop issuing business licenses to medical marijuana shops
The city will stop issuing new business tax certificates to medical marijuana dispensaries under an ordinance approved Tuesday by the Los Angeles City Council.
Despite the 2013 voter approval of Proposition D, which banned most medical marijuana businesses in Los Angeles, city finance officials have continued to issue tax certificates and collect taxes from them, illegal or not.
Some medical pot shops in the city are still allowed to operate due to exceptions in Proposition D, but finance officials said they are unequipped to determine whether a medical marijuana dispensary is in compliance and must leave the potentially complex legal question to be sorted out by city attorneys.
City leaders said collecting taxes while also banning medical marijuana businesses sends a mixed message, prompting them to simply cut off the issuance of any new tax registrations.
The ordinance approved by the City Council today calls for no new tax registration certificates to be issued for “any medical marijuana collective business activity.” The mayor must also sign off on the ordinance before it can go into effect.
Councilman Joe Buscaino said the few pot shops that are allowed under Proposition D had to have already registered by September 2007, so this new ordinance “finally puts an end to the issuance of business tax licenses to illegal pot shops in the city of L.A.”
He said by halting the issuance of new tax certificates to dispensaries, the city will be “inhibiting fraudulent activity” and curbing what appears to be an increase in dispensaries despite the enactment of Proposition D. Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson said a “mix” of illegal and legal pot shops has “hijacked storefronts” in his district for medical marijuana sales.
“This was one of the main issues that came up in almost every neighborhood house meeting,” he said.
Some city officials have accused medical marijuana dispensaries of using the tax certificates to trick landlords and others into thinking they are permitted businesses.
City Councilwoman Nury Martinez, who pushed to discontinue the tax certificates to illegal pot shops, told City News Service last fall that because she has been trying to shut down illegal pot shops in her district, it is insincere for the city to simultaneously collect taxes from them.
“They shouldn’t be operating, because they don’t fall within the law, and we shouldn’t be collecting taxes on these businesses that are illegally operating,” Martinez said. “As much as we try to shut the illegal ones down, they turn around and we issue a BTRC (business tax registration certificate) to them.”
The city collected $4.4 million from 447 dispensaries toward the end of last year, even though only an estimated 100 or so dispensaries were thought to be in compliance with Proposition D.
The city collected $5 million in 2014 from 519 tax registration certificate holders that identify themselves as marijuana businesses.
The ordinance adopted today was based on the idea that any newly registered medical marijuana business could not possibly qualify for the exception in Proposition D, which gives immunity to businesses that can show they registered by a certain date and comply with several other requirements.
The ordinance also makes it a misdemeanor for a business operators to lie on an affidavit attesting that the dispensary complies with Proposition D. The ordinance makes filling out the affidavits a part of the process of registration renewal, which is done through the annual payment of taxes.
Displaying or maintaining “expired, suspended or otherwise invalid” tax certificates will also be considered a misdemeanor under the ordinance.
City officials are also working to change the color of the tax certificates and include language to make it clearer that such certificates are only for “tax compliance purposes,” according to city attorneys. Efforts are also underway to stop giving medical marijuana businesses the ability to register for tax certificates or file taxes online.
Holding a certificate does not indicate that a business is legal, only that the business has applied to pay taxes to the city. Medical marijuana businesses that are permitted to operate under Proposition D are required to pay business taxes to the city.
—City News Service More...
January 18, 2016
Olympia mayor failed to renew business license for 13 months
The Olympian, www.theolympian.com
Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby, who owns a downtown clothing business, didn’t renew her city business license in 2015.
Selby owns Vivala, a shop with locations in Olympia and Tumwater. The business has been registered with the Secretary of State’s Office since 2006.
Businesses are required to get a license from the municipality where they operate, and businesses must renew that local license every year.
Selby said her Olympia business license expired 13 months ago. As a result, she was ineligible for a simple renewal at $30 and had to re-register the business for the full $80 fee.
A new Olympia business license for Vivala LLC was issued Jan. 8, according to the state Department of Revenue’s Business Licensing Service, which shows that Vivala’s Tumwater license will expire at the end of February.
Selby, who was elected mayor in November, addressed the issue from the dais during Tuesday’s council meeting.
“Last year, I got notice to renew my Tumwater location, which I did, and somehow did not receive notification or it slipped through the cracks somewhere during the busy campaign year and I did not renew my downtown Olympia license for one year,” Selby said Tuesday.
“I need to research how I didn’t get a follow-up notice that said ‘Cheryl, you need to renew,’” she said. “So I’m really glad that was brought to my attention because otherwise I wouldn’t have known.”
The expired business license came to Selby’s attention when, during public comment, local resident Ellen Rice complained that she had to pay $80 for a business license — on top of a $24 state business permit — to sell her self-published book in Olympia. Rice encouraged the city to reduce the costs for “micro-entrepreneurs” like herself.
“My goal for selling my little book is to buy a new sewing machine,” Rice told the council Jan. 5. “It’s silly to pay $80. You’re charging me the same amount that the city charged REI.”
City Manager Steve Hall later approached Rice outside council chambers, where he learned from Thurston County resident Missy Genson that Selby’s city business license was expired. Genson said she discovered the expired license after searching for Selby’s business on the Business Licensing Service website.
Selby said the city has not fined her and that all her taxes have been paid on time. This was confirmed by a city spokeswoman.
“It’s embarrassing as a business owner,” Selby said. “I’d like to find out how I didn’t get notification.”
The state Department of Revenue handles business license transactions and related penalties for several cities. According to Olympia city code, failure to renew a city business license may result in a penalty.
“A business license delinquency fee is imposed on licensees who fail to renew by the business license expiration date,” according to city code, which notes a maximum fee of $150. “The business license delinquency fee must be added to the renewal fee and paid by the licensee before a business license is renewed.”
A section of city code includes harsher penalties of up to $1,000. City spokeswoman Kellie Purce Braseth said this section of the code “is the legal hammer meant for repeat offenders and blatant violators of the code.”
Braseth added that for otherwise law-abiding business owners who don’t renew because of an oversight, the city will charge them the appropriate fees and “send them out to play their part in keeping the economy running.”
January 15, 2016
Colorado Springs, CO
Raising rats, mice? Don't forget business license
The Gazette, www.gazette.com
In the event your plans for 2016 include raising rats and mice as a food source for carnivores, be aware you will need a license from Colorado's commissioner of agriculture under the Pet Animal Care and Facilities Act, or PACFA.
This, at least, is the holding in a case recently decided by the Colorado Court of Appeals. The case, John T. Salazar, Commissioner of Agriculture vs. Lynn Kubic dba Willards Rodent Factory, had its start when Kubic did not renew the license for her business. Said business raises rats and mice and sells them to owners of snakes and other animals that consider rodents a part of a healthy diet. Kubic felt she did not need a license because her rats and mice were not "pet animals" covered by PACFA. The commissioner of agriculture disagreed and sued her for violating the law.
By way of background, PACFA is a modestly complex statute that has been on the books since 1994. It requires "pet animal facilities" to have a license and otherwise be regulated by the Department of Agriculture. Included are such facilities as community animal shelters and commercial dog and cat breeders.
When, as here, courts are called on to interpret a statute, the objective is to determine legislative intent. The analysis begins with a close reading of the words the Legislature chose to use. If the words have a clear meaning, that ends the matter. If the words are ambiguous, other rules of construction come into play.
In the Willards Rodent Factory case, the words in question are found in the definition of "pet animal." Under PACFA, a "pet animal" is defined as: "dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rats, gerbils, ferrets, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates, or any other species of wild or domestic or hybrid animal sold, transferred, or retained for the purpose of being kept as a household pet . . "
The trial court and the Court of Appeals looked at this definition and concluded everything listed before the first "or" was a pet animal. Clear meaning, no ambiguity. Only "other species," as referenced after the first "or," are subject to the "household pet" requirement. Kubic argued, unsuccessfully, that the words "household pet" were also intended to apply to the animals listed before the first "or." Therefore, her rats and mice, since they were not going to be pets and were instead going to be eaten, were not "pet animals" under PACFA. Kubic's backup plan was to argue that her rats and mice were covered by an exclusion in the pet animal definition for working animals. But there, she failed to convince the courts that sitting around waiting to be eaten constituted work.
An appeal of this case seems unlikely. Getting a PACFA license will be much cheaper. However, since, in the legal arena, legislative bodies trump courts, the 2016 Legislature might want to revisit PACFA if it thinks the courts got it wrong when they decided the legislative intent, in 1994, was to classify rats and mice raised as a food source for carnivores as pet animals.
As an aside on the overall subject of animal law, all states, including Colorado, have statutes making animal cruelty a criminal offense, and most of these statutes prohibit animal fighting. History has it that Abraham Lincoln, during the Civil War, was asked to champion a law prohibiting cockfighting, which he declined to do.
"Since humans continue to fight," he said, "who am I to deny chickens an equal right?"
Jim Flynn is a private attorney with Flynn Wright & Fredman LLC in Colorado Springs. He also is the author of three law-related novels. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. More...
January 12, 2016
Deadline approaches for Opelika business licenses
January of each year means it’s time for business owners in the City of Opelika to renew their business licenses.
All City of Opelika business licenses for the year 2015 expired on Dec. 31. Licenses must be renewed on or before Monday, Feb. 15, 2016. After that date, late fees and interest will be added to renewals.
There are two approval processes for obtaining a business license with the City of Opelika.
Businesses that conduct business inside the city, but do not have an office or physical presence here, should visit or call the revenue department, inside City Hall at the corner of South Seventh Street and Avenue A.
"Explain the nature of your business to one of the Revenue Department employees, who will be able to tell you what type license is needed," according to a press release. "Fill out an application form. You can do this at the Revenue Department location or go online to www.opelika.org and download the application form from the Revenue Department page, and bring it into the revenue office with you. You can pay your license fee by cash or check, payable to City of Opelika."
The price of the license will vary depending on the type of license required, and it will include a $10 issuance fee. A license certificate will be issued at that time.
Those maintaining an office or physical presence and conducting business inside the city limits can d ownload and fill out the top part of the License Requirements Verification Form, along with the business license application, which is available at the revenue office or can be downloaded from www.opelika.org.
"Include a phone number. Take this form to the planning department at 700 Fox Trail. Various departments will sign off on the form that you have met all city regulations regarding your business. You then may come to the Revenue Department to obtain your license. You can obtain the price of the license by calling the Revenue Department at 334-705-5160 or 334-705-5162. If you plan to operate your business from your home inside the city limits, you will need to obtain a Home Occupation License," the press release said.
There are two exceptions to the Feb. 15 renewal date: alcoholic beverage licenses are delinquent after Jan. 15 of every year, and insurance company licenses are delinquent after March 1 .
Renewal notices were mailed out during December for this year’s registered business renewals, and included all forms necessary for renewal. These forms and remittances may be mailed to P.O. Box 390 in Opelika.
The Revenue Department is open from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and is at 204 South Seventh Street in downtown Opelika. All information and forms needed for conducting business in Opelika can be found on the city’s website, opelika.org. More...
December 21, 2015
Morris council increases penalties for operating without business license
The North Jefferson News
The Morris Town Council approved a previously-introduced ordinance that altered the town’s business license rules.
The new ordinance increases the penalty for operating a business without a license to a fine up to $500 and six months in jail for each offense. Each day a business is operated without a license constitutes a new offense, under the new rules.
In other business, the council:
- approved sending police chief Mike Nazarchyk to the annual winter chief conference in Montgomery.
- approved spending $475.71 on replacing EMS supplies used by the fire department
- approved spending approximately $300 on maintenance for the fire engine More...
December 7, 2015
Fulnecky dispute shines spotlight on business licensing process
The dispute among city leaders over whether Councilwoman Kristi Fulnecky should have been eligible to take office shines a spotlight on what should be a fairly perfunctory process, one that thousands of local residents have gone through.
On Friday, five council members announced they had asked a retired Supreme Court justice to determine whether Fulnecky should keep her seat after a city review found the councilwoman's company — Fulnecky Enterprises — had been operating for years without a business license.
Fulnecky has said the move is retaliation for her statements and votes on certain issues, and questioned whether she needed to obtain a license, even though she did so last month after being contacted by city staff. The five council members have denied the move is political; Councilwoman Jan Fisk told the News-Leader Monday the review was needed to be fair "to the other 13,000 people who have city licenses.”
City spokeswoman Cora Scott confirmed Monday that approximately 13,000 permanent business license are currently on file. Another 3,000 temporary licenses are on file for operations such as flea markets and lawn-mowing services.
Businesses in Springfield are supposed to acquire the appropriate license — and pay the appropriate fee — two weeks prior to the date they begin operating. But that doesn't always happen.
Scott said Monday that businesses are "often" asked to pay business license fees for previous years due to a failure to register, but that the city doesn't track the exact number of scofflaws. The failure to register can come to the city's attention a number of different ways, she said.
"While I cannot comment on Councilwoman Fulnecky's specific instance, I can tell you that oftentimes a citizen will call in to question whether or not a business has a license, which will prompt further investigation," Scott said. "Also, the licensing office has four mobile inspectors. The office also watches social media and other mainstream media to be apprised of new businesses in the community."
Springfield city code states that individuals who operate a business without obtaining the necessary license "shall be guilty of a misdemeanor" — a violation that can prompt a fine of up to $1,000, and/or up to 180 days in jail. Scott said "we pursue the lack of license as an ordinance violation and enforce it through municipal court."
There are almost 200 different categories of business license, and fees can vary widely depending on type and size of the operation.
Many businesses are assessed a fee based on a standard rate schedule — $10 annually for operations with gross sales up to $5,000, and $20 annually for those up to $10,000. Beyond that mark, the fee increases with each additional $1,000 in sales — 50 cents per $1,000 up to $100,000; 35 cents up to $200,000, and 25 cents per $1,000 beyond that. Receipts are self-reported, Scott said.
New businesses, which don't have past receipts, are assessed a fee based on an estimate of potential gross sales they provide.
Some types of businesses aren't subject to the standard fee schedule, and have their own specific fee. Barbershops, for example, pay an annual fee of $2.50 per chair to be licensed. A circus must pay $100 for the first day, and $25 for each additional day. Taxidermists pay $15 annually, while hotels pay $15 for the first room and $1 for each additional unit.
Other types of businesses are subject to their own modified fee schedule.
In a resume Fulnecky included when she applied to run for council last year, she indicated she was president and owner of Fulnecky Enterprises, LLC, since June 2008, and attorney and owner of Fulnecky Law, LLC, since Dec. 2007.
A News-Leader review of business filings with the Missouri Secretary of State's Office indicates both businesses were filed with the state at that time. Fulnecky is listed as the registered agent for both entities, each of which list a Springfield address. Scott said the city does not get any notice from the state when businesses are filed with a Springfield address.
Because of a state statute, law firms don't require a city business licenses — a distinction that would seem to apply to Fulnecky Law, which Fulnecky's resume indicates specializes in "federal and state government contracting, Native American law, gaming law, and government affairs." The state statute also exempts certain other professionals — including certified public accountants, dentists, and priests — from being "made liable to pay any municipal or other corporation tax or license fee of any description whatever for the privilege of following or carrying on such profession or calling."
Fulnecky Enterprises, meanwhile, was described in the resume as a "construction management company," with one of its services "government compliance." A list of business types subject to something other than the standard rate schedule does not appear to have a category that would apply to Fulnecky Enterprises.
Fulnecky told the News-Leader Monday she’s trying to determine if the rule on licenses is “based on the individual or business practice.” More...
November 25, 2015
San Francisco, CA
Startup Zenefits Under Scrutiny For Flouting Insurance Laws
The Silicon Valley startup Zenefits, valued at $4.5 billion in a funding round earlier this year, apparently flouted insurance laws by allowing unlicensed brokers to sell health insurance — an approach that has led to at least one regulatory inquiry into the legality of its operations.
Zenefits, a middleman in the health insurance business, has repeatedly failed to enforce legal requirements that anyone selling a health insurance policy have an appropriate state license, a BuzzFeed News investigation has found. The San Francisco–based company allowed numerous salespeople to act as insurance brokers in at least seven states without licenses to do so, according to internal emails and records, as well as interviews with eight former employees with direct knowledge of the matter.
BuzzFeed News has reviewed examples of the unlicensed sale of insurance by Zenefits employees dating back as far as the summer of 2014 and continuing through this summer. It is unclear when the practice began and whether it continues today; the company says it now has strict procedures in place to enforce licensing rules.
At least one regulator, the insurance commissioner in Washington state, is currently examining whether Zenefits operated there without licenses, according to a spokesperson for the agency, Stephanie Marquis. The Washington inquiry began in early 2015 and has not yet been resolved, she said.
Zenefits management seemed aware of the potentially serious consequences of violating licensing rules. Under Washington law, anyone who knowingly sells, solicits, or negotiates insurance without the proper state license is guilty of a Class B felony, which can carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years, as well as a civil penalty of up to $25,000 for each violation. More...
November 23, 2015
City Council approves higher business license fees
Kirksville Daily Express
For the first time in 50 years, Kirksville businesses will be paying higher fees for business licenses after an ordinance change was approved by the City Council.
The Kirksville City Council approved, 3-1-1, an increase to the city’s business license fees during its meeting on Monday.
For a service business (business that only provides a service and does not have retail sales), the business license fee will be $40, while a retail business will have a license fee of $25. Previously, the business license fees were $10 for both.
Retail businesses will also continue to pay gross receipts fees.
The investigative fee for a new business license will also increase from $10 to $25 to cover additional paperwork and inspections.
King said it currently costs the city about $41 per business to keep businesses in compliance with all of the laws. The city will see an overall increase in revenue of about $13,000 with the change.
“We’re hoping that the increase in these retail businesses and the service business fees will help the city catch up to some of those fees that we have been paying,” King said. “We’re hoping to even out some of the revenues with the expenses that the city spends right now.”
King also said she compared the city’s business license fees with each third-class city in the state and found that Kirksville ranked the lowest in the price that it charges for the license.
City Council member Rick Steele opposed the increase to the business license fees.
“Being the lowest fees in the state for third-class cities, I don’t see as a bad thing,” Steele said. “We’re trying to attract new businesses and keep the businesses that we have. I personally don’t see a reason for a fee increase.”
Kirksville Mayor Pro Tem Glen Moritz abstained from the vote.
In other business, City Council members approved, 4-1, an agreement with the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission after the city was recently awarded the Traffic Engineering Assistance Program (TEAP) grant.
The TEAP grant will help fund a traffic study in downtown Kirksville to find the safest and most economical way to direct traffic in and out of the area while also promoting businesses.
The total cost of the project is about $20,000. The TEAP grant will fund $8,000 for the study, while the city will pay for $12,000.
Moritz opposed the agreement, saying he thought city staff had already made “great suggestions” on the flow of downtown traffic. More...
November 19, 2015
San Jose, CA
San Jose City Council approves changes for taxi drivers to operate in city, airport
KRON 4 News
SAN JOSE (BCN) — The San Jose City Council approved changes Tuesday for taxi drivers who have fewer requirements to operate in the city and Mineta San Jose International Airport.
The modifications approved in a unanimous vote include dropping a requirement for taxi drivers to have their vehicle inspected by police, which added extra time and costs, and will only need to have their vehicles inspected by the state.
Taxi drivers who do get fingerprints can be issued temporary permits after a background check with police to work while their FBI background check is being processed, which can take up to 30 days.
The changes also include an option for taxi drivers to undergo background checks under a similar plan approved by the council last week for ride-booking services such as Uber and Lyft to operate at the airport, airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes said.
Hundreds of taxi drivers went on a two-day strike before the council voted on revisions last Tuesday for ride-booking services and protested outside City Hall calling for equal regulations with ride-booking services.
The alternative plan includes background checks with the California Public Utilities Commission, which does not require fingerprints, random monthly audits at the airport on 1 percent of the company’s drivers and waived requirements for their vehicle’s age and mileage, Barnes said.
Taxi and ride-booking drivers will have to post their business license in their vehicle, Barnes said.The programs for taxi and ride-booking companies will be evaluated by the council in six months, Barnes said.
Any taxi trips booked through a mobile application would be deregulated and an on-demand administration fee was reduced from $1.95 to $1.55 at the airport.
“We’ve made some really great progress to ensure equity among ground transportation operators,” Barnes said.
The 40-cent cut can save taxi drivers $50 a month, but they have already paid an average $800 a month to operate at the airport, according to Yellow Checker Cab Company general manager Larry Silva.
The on-demand fee implemented earlier this year has hit taxi drivers hard and any savings helps, Silva said.
Silva was more concerned about whether cab drivers will leave the industry to work for ride-booking companies. Some taxi drivers, none who work for Yellow Checker Cab Company, will work for ride-booking services during the days off, he said.
Silva didn’t see anyone in the taxi industry giving up on obtaining fingerprints.
“The security of knowing who’s driving our taxi cabs far outweighs a random check,” he said.
Overall, Silva thought the council took steps in the right direction, but is concerned over taxi drivers who still need to obtain licenses to operate in each city compared to ride-booking service drivers who can operate anywhere, anytime. More...
November 2, 2015
Recycling Firm In Gary Closed For Non-Compliance
GARY | A recycling business operating on Gary's West Side had its privileges revoked last week when Gary city officials shut down the business for not being in compliance with city ordinances.
Envirogreen, 5901 W. 7th Ave., was shut down on Wednesday after the business was found to be operating without a general business license. Owners had been denied an opportunity to apply for a business license as the location, a residential neighborhood, is not zoned for a recycling type business. Envirogreen also was violating the city's zoning ordinance.
"While we do want to attract businesses to the city of Gary, we will not tolerate businesses operating outside of city ordinances and in this case whose illicit operations infringe on the quality of life in our community and the quiet enjoyment of our residents," Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said.
Envirogreen was operating out of the former TradeWinds facility. According to information provided from the mayor's office, the city had received numerous complaints from neighbors.
Gary city officials are also urging anyone interested in operating a business in Gary to contact the Department of Commerce for information regarding proper licensing in the city. The department can be reached at (219) 882-3000, ext. 6748.
November 2, 2015
Des Moines, IA
Women Sue State Over Licensing Requirement For Hair Braiding
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Two Des Moines women have filed a lawsuit against the Iowa cosmetology board, seeking to start a hair braiding business without acquiring state licenses.
The Des Moines Register reports that Aicheria Bell and Achan Agit filed the lawsuit against the Iowa Board of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences on Tuesday. Bell and Agit say they don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on cosmetology school to attain licenses.
State law requires a license for someone to legally conduct business braiding hair. Someone would have to complete 2,100 hours at a licensed cosmetology school to pass the state exam. The lawsuit says the schooling could cost as much as $22,000.
A spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Public Health, which oversees the cosmetology board, said officials hadn’t seen the lawsuit yet.
November 2, 2015
Restaurant Owner Charged With Bribing Ex-Rhode Island House Speaker
A Providence restaurant owner has been indicted on a single count of bribing a public official for allegedly paying off former Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox to get a liquor license.
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and State Police Col. Steven O'Donnell on Friday announced the indictment returned by a grand jury in Providence.
Raymond Hugh is accused of bribing Fox when he sat on the Providence board of licenses to ensure Hugh's restaurant, the Shark Bar, could get a liquor license.
Fox admitted he took more than $50,000 to help push the license through. He is serving a three-year prison term for bribery and for taking more than $100,000 from his campaign account.
Hugh did not immediately return messages seeking comment. He previously said he didn't know anything about a bribe.
October 29, 2015
Raise A Glass: Pennsylvania's Archaic Liquor Laws Are Finally Changing
Local brewers, distributors and retailers of beer in Pennsylvania have had a direct and positive impact on Pennsylvania’s economy over the last year.
According to a biennial economic impact study by Beer Serves America, the combined direct, supplier and induced economic impact of the beer industry in Pennsylvania brought more than $9.2 billion (yes, billion) into the Commonwealth in 2014. Compare that to the nearly $253 billion generated by the U.S. beer industry overall.
Additionally, brewers, distributors and retailers employ nearly 41,000 people in Pennsylvania and contribute more than $3.7 billion in annual wages to those employees. This has a ripple effect, as Pennsylvania’s beer industry helps generate jobs in other related industries such as agriculture (1,699 jobs), business and personal services (10,953 jobs), construction (465 jobs), finance, insurance and real estate (3,289 jobs), general manufacturing (3,099 jobs), retail (2,572 jobs), transportation and communication (2,542 jobs), travel and entertainment (2,870 jobs), wholesale (1,251 jobs) and other (929 jobs). Some or all of these job numbers would be significantly impacted without the growth of Pennsylvania’s brewing and beer distribution industries.
Pennsylvania has 558 beer distributors and 189 breweries. The industry generated over $625 million in federal taxes, and more than $414 million in state taxes, totaling $1,040,308,000 in 2014 alone. Pursuant to the Beer Serves America study, taxes account for almost 36% of beer’s retail price (e.g., a $2 beer includes 71 cents in taxes). Pennsylvania state and local governments, as well as the federal government, all collect a number of special taxes on the sale and production of beer. Retail, distribution and brewing companies, and their employees, must also pay personal and business taxes, as with other industries, which amounts to 29-cents for every dollar spent on beer.
While the economic impact of beer in Pennsylvania is positive, it is no secret that the Commonwealth still has some of the most archaic liquor laws in the country. However, that is slowly changing.
Recently, the Pennsylvania Senate passed House Bill 189, which amends the Pennsylvania Liquor Code to permit wine producers to ship wine directly to Commonwealth residents, and also reduces the special liquor order markup for licensees. Wine-makers must obtain a direct shipper’s license before making shipments, and the license must be renewed annually. Once they have secured the license, the licensee may ship an unlimited amount of wine to any Pennsylvania resident who is over the age of 21 for their personal use. Of course, the buyer’s age must be verified before shipment.
Additionally, direct wine shippers must agree to collect the Commonwealth’s 6% sales tax, any local sales taxes imposed by counties of the second class or cities of the first class, its 18% liquor tax and shipping charges on all products shipped into and within the Commonwealth. The markup on Special Liquor Orders is reduced from 30% to 10%, which means restaurants and bars will pay less when ordering products that are unavailable at the state store.
In another positive step forward, earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) declared that beer distributors are permitted to sell 12-packs of beer. The distributors are required to purchase the beer in 12-pack shipments in order to resell to the consumer in that quantity. This was a huge win for Pennsylvania distributors, who had previously been limited to selling beer by the case or keg. While the Pennsylvania Liquor Code permits bars, supermarkets and convenience stores to sell beers by the 6-pack, it tends to be sold at higher costs than those charged by distributors.
Wawa, one of Pennsylvania’s largest (and most beloved) convenience stores chains, may soon be entering the retail beer market. It is likely that the PLCB will soon be deciding whether to approve a retail license for a Wawa in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. In early August, the Concord Township Board of Supervisors approved beer sales at the Wawa located at 721 Naamans Creek Road in Chadds Ford. If approved, customers will be able to purchase up to two 6-packs of beer at the Delaware County store. The Naamans Creek Road store is the first Wawa in Pennsylvania to be approved for beer sales. Beer sales at Wawa could mean a whole new and vast market for local beer brewers. If Wawa chooses to expand the sale of beer to its other locations, local brewers could put their product in front of a large new set of consumers.
It looks like the beer industry’s valuable contribution to Pennsylvania’s economy is continuing through 2015. Help keep it going by stepping out and supporting your local retailers, distributors, breweries and brew pubs.
October 27, 2015
Officials Recall Local Peanut Butter Product; Say Company Did Not Have Valid License
PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Health is issuing a voluntary recall for a local peanut butter product.According to the RI Dept. of Health, Hank’s Protein Plus Peanut Butter, which is located in Pawtucket, is being recalled because the company was operating without a RI food business license.The company stopped production of all products, effective October 20, 2015.To date, the Health Department has not received any reports of illnesses in connection with the product – though officials say the peanut butter should not be consumed.http://wpri.com/2015/10/22/officials-pawtucket-based-peanut-butter-recalled-company-did-not-possess-valid-license/ More...
October 27, 2015
Columbus Repeals Business Licenses After State Mandate
The Town of Columbus is out approximately $3,500 a year after the state took away municipalities’ ability to charge privilege license taxes, or business licenses.
Columbus Town Council met Thursday, Oct. 15 and approved repealing its business licenses.
Columbus collected the licenses annually, with 112 businesses in 2011, 115 businesses in 2012 and 116 businesses in 2013, according to town records.
The state’s repeal took effect on July 1, 2015.
Out of North Carolina’s 500 cities, 300 of them collected the privilege taxes.
Gov. Pat McCrory signed the legislation last year repealing local business taxes, while municipalities, particularly large cities, asked for long-term solutions to replace the revenue to avoid raising other taxes or cutting services.
While smaller towns, like Columbus, are not looking at a major revenue loss from the repeal, cities and towns across the state combined could lose more than $62 million in total revenues from the state’s repeal.
McCrory said last year he will work with municipalities and the N.C. General Assembly to seek a long-term resolution, but also said there’s no debate that the privilege tax has been applied inconsistently.
The privilege licenses are paid to towns and cities for the “privilege” of doing business in municipalities. Similar businesses in nearby towns often ended up paying very different business licenses for the same service because of how each city or town calculated its licenses.
The N.C. House originally set a cap of $100 per business per year, but the N.C. Senate’s proposal, which prevailed, repealed the tax altogether as of July 1, 2015.
The City of Saluda is the only other town in Polk County that collects business licenses, which will also have to be repealed.
The Town of Tryon does not collect business licenses.
October 27, 2015
Denver Drops Rule Making Pot Shops Post Bonds To Guarantee Tax Payment
Denver marijuana retailers no longer have to post bonds guaranteeing they'll pay their taxes, a regulation that some in the industry say had become a fatal hindrance.
Denver City Council this week voted unanimously to scrub the surety bond requirement from the city's marijuana code.
Medical and recreational pot shops were among a handful of businesses, including pawn brokers and parking lot operators, that had to obtain a surety bond to operate in the city.
The bonds are intended to help ensure that the city can collect sales and use tax revenue from businesses that may not have a storefront or a lot of fixed assets. Typically, if a business defaults on its tax bills, the city can seize and sell its assets to cover the missed payments.
"We're not going to seize a bunch of marijuana," said Dan Rowland, a spokesman for the city's Office of Marijuana Policy. "That's not something we can liquefy."
The bonds have been required since retail sale of medical marijuana was authorized six years ago. During that period, the Department of Treasury has not tapped a single pot shop surety bond to recoup unpaid taxes, Rowland said.
But more importantly, the surety market has dried up for marijuana businesses. Some surety writers cut off marijuana policies midterm and ceased offering new bonds after two federal racketeering lawsuits were filed against Colorado marijuana firms and businesses that worked with them, Rowland said.
Josh Kayser, founder and CEO of SuretyBonds.com, said all of his surety writers stopped issuing marijuana bonds after the lawsuits were filed.
Marijuana Industry Group executive director Michael Elliot said the lawsuits are scaring away many ancillary businesses — banks, insurers and now the bonding companies — creating more difficulties for legal marijuana operations as they tried to meet a "technicality."
"What we're seeing there, it's been a pretty useless rule. We've never once used these bonds," he said.
Without a bond, a retailer couldn't get a business license, he said. "It's a fatal issue for a marijuana business."
The bond logjam put more than 400 medical and recreational marijuana licenses at risk for nonrenewal.
"This wasn't a case of bad business practices," Rowland said. "These are largely really good businesses in good standing with the city and we want their licenses to be renewed."
Dumping the rule is welcome, especially for operators that hold multiple licenses, said Dean Heizer, chief legal strategist for LivWell, one of Colorado's largest marijuana growers and retailers.
Medical pot shops needed to post a $5,000 bond, and recreational stores needed $20,000.
"It's a new and growing business," Heizer said. "At least from our perspective, if you've been a responsible taxpayer in the past, ... there's no need for this additional impediment."
Surety bonds are still required by the state. Industry officials hope to address the issue at the legislature early next year, Elliott said.
October 22, 2015
Georgetown Raises Liquor License Fees
GEORGETOWN — The city council voted to increase liquor license fees from $450 to $500. Mayor Pro-Tem Darin Readnour said the fee was last increased in 1976.
The fee hike affects eight Georgetown establishments.
In other business, the council voted to purchase a refurbished hand-held water-meter reader from HD Water Supply of Washington for $2,560.
Alderman Darren Alexander said the reader will allow two city workers to collect information from all 1,700 water meters in the city in about 45 minutes. The refurbished reader will replace an older, non-functioning one.
October 22, 2015
Greenville Looks To Lure Corporate Headquarters With License Tax Change
In an effort to attract more business, specifically corporate headquarters, the city of Greenville is changing its business license tax structure.
The change includes moving those businesses classified as “corporate headquarters” to a different tax code and capping the amount of gross revenue sales subject to the business tax at $20 million.
Kai Nelson, director of the office of management and budget for the city of Greenville, said there are between 8,000 and 10,000 businesses engaging in the city limits. Of those, six are classified under the North American Industry Classification System as being “corporate headquarters. He said because the information is proprietary, he was not able to divulge what those six companies were.
The North American Industry Classification System is a uniform business classification system established by the U.S. Census Bureau. Under the system, businesses are assigned a classification code. The city of Greenville has established 15 different rate codes for its business license tax structure.
“We take the thousands upon thousands of these codes, and we group them together,” Nelson said. “We condensed all of them into 15.”
Most businesses are classified by the type of business they have. For example, there is a classification for retail and wholesale, another class for various levels of construction and so on. Corporate headquarters was previously under the city’s rate code 3. Under that classification there was no cap on the amount of gross revenue sales were used to compute the yearly business license tax. Nelson said the average business license tax fee is around one-fifth of 1% of gross sales, especially for restaurants.
Under city ordinance, a corporate headquarters has to have responsibility for an area, including South Carolina and at least two other states.
“There are a handful of businesses that qualify as NAICS corporate headquarters,” Nelson said. “Generally, it is where a majority of the management and legal are located.”
Under the previous rate code, a business qualifying as a “corporate headquarters” with gross sales of $200 million would have a business license tax of $218,818 per year, or $0.001 of every $10 made. Under the new classification and cap, that same business would have a yearly license fee of $24,036.
“The city wanted to create a more business-friendly environment for companies looking to come here, and that was basically been achieved with the cap,” Nelson said. “Out of the handful of corporate headquarters we have, there are a few that approach the cap, which also creates a business-friendly environment for those that are here already.”
What others do
The cities of Spartanburg and Anderson each handle their business license taxes differently.
In Spartanburg, Assistant City Manager Chris Story said they are looking to make changes to their ordinance to come more in line with NAICS classifications.
“There is an effort underway here to make some changes to our ordinances and policies to go to the NAICS coding,” Story said. “We have a revision of the ordinance in the preparatory stages, and I don’t know when it will go to the council.”
He said there are “very, very few” businesses in Spartanburg that qualify under the “corporate headquarters” classification. One, Denny’s, does and Story said their fee is “nominal” and not based on gross revenue.
“Part of the discussion to update the ordinance would be to decide how best to handle those that fall under the classification,” Story said.
In Anderson, business license administrator Ken Mullinax said corporate offices fall under rate code 7. That has a base fee of $55 and $2.55 for every $1,000 in gross revenue over $2,000. There is no cap on gross revenues subject to the license tax.
“We have very few offices in Anderson that fall under that corporate office category,” Mullinax said. “We wouldn’t have a cap because we don’t have anyone anywhere close to that.”
In Greenville County, companies pay a rate of $15 plus $1 for each $1,000 of capital stock and paid-in or capital surplus, according to the county’s website. For multistate corporations, the license tax is “determined by apportionment in the same manner employed in computing apportioned corporate income.”
A piece of the pie
Under S.C. law, local municipalities can generate revenue through property taxes and business license fees.
In Greenville, the business license fee is put into the city’s general fund. Nelson said 42.9% of the general fund budget comes from licenses and permits. He said 87% of the general fund comes from property taxes, permits and licenses.
He said 44.5% of the city’s general fund goes to police and fire protection.
Nelson said the change in structure and cap on gross revenue sales subject to tax won’t have a significant impact on the city’s general fund budget. Primarily because none of the six businesses classified as “corporate headquarters” are close to approaching the $20 million cap.
Cities and counties across South Carolina have differences in the percentage of revenue coming from business taxes and property taxes.
“In the aggregate, you probably won’t see much of a difference in the percentage. Meaning four-fifths of municipal government revenue comes from property taxes and business license fees,” Nelson said. “What you will see is a difference in the percentage of property taxes and licenses.
“Some municipalities choose to rely more on the business license taxes over the property taxes. There is still consistency in the overall, but how they are divided can be remarkably different.”
Mullinax said approximately 30% of the city of Anderson’s budgeted revenue comes from its business license taxes.
Bringing in business
Nelson said the reason for the change in taxes is to make Greenville more attractive for corporate headquarters to relocate to.
“I think the issue is one of competitiveness,” Nelson said. “When a business has a choice and the business’ choice is very sensitive to cost, I can talk about something that impacts gross revenue to the tune of one-tenth of 1%, but, these business lines are tough and having this cap can make the difference between a business coming here or going somewhere else.”
That is a main reason why the city of Spartanburg is in the midst of revamping its business license tax ordinance.
"It’s a serious issue for all cities to consider,” Story said. “The impact of those costs on business location decisions are a factor. Plus the simplicity, we think we can make it easier for the payer and for us.”
Mullinax agreed that Greenville’s move to cap gross revenue sales subject to business license taxes is the right way to go.
“You don’t want to discourage businesses from coming, and that is really smart,” Mullinax said. “I hope we get to point where we have that problem, but we aren’t there yet.”
October 22, 2015
Cheers! New Liquor Licenses Allow New Kinds Of Businesses
New liquor license fees to be considered Tuesday by the Hawaii County Council Finance Committee will usher in new opportunities for county businesses, officials say.
A new “small craft producer pub” license paves the way for a unique business that has been approved by the Liquor Commission and is in the process of getting final permits. Company Rum LLC, set to become the island’s first licensed distillery, will use fresh sugarcane juice to create French-style rums at its Kawaihae location.
The sugarcane is being grown at Kahua Ranch on Kohala Mountain Road, said Steve Jefferson, one of the distillery founders.
Jefferson is particularly excited about how the selection of 43 varieties of sugarcane came about. The varieties, so-called “canoe” plants that came to the island with the Polynesian settlers, range in color from pinkish purples to striped navy blue and produce flavors ranging from the most delicate sugar syrup to lemongrass, honey and molasses, he said.
“All are totally unique flavors,” Jefferson said.
If all goes as planned, the company will have farm tours showcasing the varieties of sugarcane and how it’s processed, in addition to tours and tastings at the distillery itself, he said. While sugarcane production for sugar has gone the way of the plantations because of an inability to compete with foreign markets, a specialized use such as this will keep the tradition alive, at least in spirit.
The small craft producer pub license will cost $1,000 annually.
The county will also create a condominium hotel license to conform with changes to state law, although there are no such facilities currently on the Big Island, said Steve Morifuji, administrative officer for the county Department of Liquor Control. That license costs $1,200 annually.
There’s also an increase in the license fee for caterers, from $120 to $600. While that looks like a steep increase, the license is being changed to accommodate food caterers who don’t have a stand-alone liquor establishment, allowing them to also sell liquor at approved events, provided at least 30 percent of the sales come from food.
In another case, however, the county is catching up with a 2012 state law that allowed the island’s only winery to make a go of it.
Before the state license for a winery was created, Volcano Winery operated under a wine manufacturing permit. That permit allowed the sale of wine in bottles, but forbid the sale of glasses of wine for wine tastings.
Volcano Winery owner Delwin Bothof found himself at the end of a losing proposition, with tour companies bringing busloads of cruise ship passengers to his establishment for free wine tastings. Because the cruise ships bar passengers from bringing bottled wine onto the ship, sales were lackluster, despite the consumption of a lot of free wine.
Bothof has nothing but praise for the county Department of Liquor Control.
“These guys are really, really helpful,” he said.
Bothof says he has no problem paying the higher license fee, which went up from $400 for a wine manufacturer to $1,000 for a winery.
The annual fees are in addition to a percent of sales that liquor establishments pay annually. The money goes to the Department of Liquor Control to pay its expenses for administration and enforcement.
The council’s Finance Committee meets at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday in Hilo. The public can participate there, or by videoconference from the West Hawaii Civic Center, the Waimea council office, the conference room adjacent to the Hisaoka gym in Kapaau, the Naalehu state office building and the Pahoa neighborhood facility.
October 16, 2015
Las Vegas, NV
Fantasy Sports Sites Now Need A License In Nevada
LAS VEGAS — Nevada regulators ordered daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel to shut down Thursday, saying the hard-to-miss sites that have flooded the marketplace with TV and Internet ads cannot operate in the state without a gambling license.
The decision comes amid growing backlash by regulators and investigators, including New York’s attorney general, after it was revealed employees often played on competing sites, raising questions about possible insider information being used to win.
Nevada regulators govern the country’s main gambling hub in Las Vegas, and their actions could hold sway with regulators elsewhere.
Participants on the unregulated sites can compete in games involving professional or college sports, paying an entry fee that goes into a larger pool. They try to assemble teams that earn the most points based on real-life stats in a given period with a certain percentage of top finishers earning a payout.
Entry fees on DraftKings range from 25 cents to more than $5,000. Some prizes top $1 million.
Nevada’s decision doesn’t appear to affect season-long fantasy sports, long-popular online and in office pools. Daily fantasy sports is similar, but with the contests limited to a day in most cases, not stretched out over a season.
DraftKings and FanDuel say the sites provide games of skill and not chance and are therefore protected by the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which carved out a specific exemption allowing fantasy sports.
The distinction has been an important one for the industry, which has dodged the type of regulation that governs traditional casinos and sports books. Avoiding being labeled “gambling” also has made the contests palatable to professional sports leagues that have partnered with the sites or, in some cases, invested directly.
Until now, the sites have been available in all but five states where their legality has been called into question.
“If you’re licensed in Nevada, you’re good to go,” said A.G. Burnett, chief of the state’s Gaming Control Board. That includes traditional sports books where gamblers generally wager on the outcome of a given game.
No daily fantasy sports sites are licensed in Nevada, but the sites can apply for licenses.
A notice issued by the Gaming Control Board said the sites must stop offering their contests to Nevada residents immediately, and until they are granted a license. Operators face felony fines and 10 years in prison for running an illegal gambling site. The board said it worked with the state attorney general’s office for several months to look into the sites’ legality.
Joe Asher, CEO of sports book William Hill’s U.S. operations, has repeatedly said daily fantasy sports is gambling and should be treated like all other legal gambling operations. He said the board’s decision speaks for itself.
“It shouldn’t come as a surprise,” Asher said.
Spokesmen for DraftKings and FanDuel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Seth Young, chief operating officer of the much smaller site StarFantasy, said he took it a step further than most, commissioning the same lab that tests casino slot machines to determine if the site’s games were skill-based. Young said the tests confirmed it, but “it doesn’t mean we can disrespect state laws.” He noted his company pulled out of 10 states before Thursday, to stay on the right side of the law. His site pulled the plug in Nevada, too.
“We saw regulation on the horizon,” he said. He said the company plans to get licensed in Nevada and hopes to license its own technology to other companies wanting to do business there.
The American Gaming Association, which is doing its own review of the legality of daily fantasy sports, said it appreciated the Nevada board’s determination. It provides clarity, “as well as a roadmap for daily fantasy companies and casinos to provide popular fantasy sports within Nevada borders,” the association said.
Daniel Wallach, a sports law expert from Florida, said the board’s decision is not going to “cause an extinction of fantasy sports from Nevada, forevermore.” But it confirmed what Wallach and other observers familiar with the gambling industry have long contended.
“Fantasy is a form of gambling that should be licensed just like sports betting, just like any other form of gambling,” he said.
October 15, 2015
October 15, 2015
Columbus Businesses Consider Applying for License to Sell Pot
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The election is 3 weeks away, but 10TV has learned some businesses are already beginning the process to sell marijuana.
Voters will decide on November 3rd whether to legalize marijuana in Ohio.
If approved marijuana would be grown on 10 preapproved sites across the state. It would be sold in stores through a special permit.
ResponsibleOhio, the group behind Issue 3, says more than 4,000 people are already asking for more information about this permit. Some businesses are still considering if selling pot is something they want to do.
"I pride my store on locally made items," The Hippie Hut Owner Scott Sanzoni said.
At 1359 North High Street you'll find a little bit of everything.
"We've got all your smoking accessories, we do custom t-shirts, stickers, banners," Sanzoni said.
Inside The Hippie Hut, Scott Sanzoni and his pup Miss Eleanor are closing up shop for the night. Sanzoni says business has been good on his Short North corner, but come November he could be fighting for customers.
"I disagree with it. I don't like the angle that's being taken with it. But with that being said, a step forward, is a step forward. I think if it does pass, you know us as retailers are going to be forced to do something," Sanzoni said.
The group ResponsibleOhio is behind the idea. If passed, the group says anyone who wants to sell, manufacture, process or grow pot has to apply for a license.
ResponsibleOhio says it has received more than 4,000 requests for license information already.
"If it were to pass, yes I would apply for a license," Sanzoni says.
Sanzoni says his hut could take a hit if he didn't.
"I think by not doing so there's going to be other upstart businesses that are going to apply for the license, and they're going to be selling it. And if I don't I won't, and that could cost me."
None of this happens if Issue 3 fails. ResponsibleOhio says if it passes, the state would have to form a marijuana control commission.
The commission would approve licenses for new and existing businesses.
October 14, 2015
Nevada City, CA
NC Council Adopts Simplified Business License Tax Methodolgy
Through a vote of 5-0, the Nevada City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance during a meeting on Wednesday night to repeal the existing business license tax measure in order to lower the cost of application and to improve customer service, said city officials.
“The current ordinance has more than 30 methodologies, which is a lot for many cities, much less a smaller city like Nevada City,” said City Manager Mark Prestwich.
According to the city documents, the existing business license ordinance was approved 58 years ago. Rates have not been changed since 1993. In addition to the complicated structure, the legislation also included pro-rating and quarter payment options that increased the time required by city staff to process the license tax.
“I am happy with this,” said Mayor Jennifer Ray. She added that the outdated structure of the current ordinance needed changes.
The new ordinance will eliminate the pro-rating and quarter payment options. In addition, the tax rates would depend on how many employees a business has, said Prestwich.
For example, a business with 10 or more employees will be required to pay $150 annually. A business with nine or fewer employees will be paying $100 a year.
The rates will also be adjusted annually based on inflation and would be calculated using the consumer price index.
City officials said the rates would be placed on the ballot for the next municipal election in 2016 so voters will have a final say.
The simplified methodology would result in $10,000 to $13,000 additional annual revenue for the city, said Prestwich.
During Wednesday night’s meeting, the city council also approved a second reading of an ordinance to speed up the permitting procedures for small residential rooftop solar energy systems, which is a requirement put forth by the state.
The first reading, which was approved by the city council on Sept. 23, prompted concern from some council members “over the effect that unrestricted ministerial approval of such systems could have on the city’s historic buildings,” according to city documents.
Hal DeGraw, consulting city attorney, pointed out during the meeting that the ordinance only concerns residential rooftops, not business rooftops.
In addition, the state legislation made no exception to residential areas in regards to historical values.
To reduce adverse effects that might be caused by the ordinance, DeGraw integrated three checklist items for the review process, which will help evaluate businesses to make sure they are not degrading the historical values of the city buildings throughout their installation processes.
In order to be approved, the applicant has to prove that the system is designed and located as inconspicuously as possible, no larger than necessary, and of a style and color to blend in.
A reading of the checklist items will take place during the city council meeting on Oct. 28, DeGraw said.
October 14, 2015
Pender Alcohol Retailers Facing Tribal Tax Unsure Of Future
PENDER, Neb. | Four years ago, Rich and Jessica Frazey bought a convenience store that stands along one of two highways passing through Pender and began planning how to make Frazey's Food & Fuel more profitable.
But some of those plans are on hold while the Frazeys wait to see if the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether Pender businesses that sell alcohol are subject to an Omaha Tribe of Nebraska ordinance that would require them to buy a tribal liquor license and pay sales taxes to the tribe on top of what they already pay in state licensing fees and taxes.
"We would have to look at not having beer or liquor. I'm worried it's going to cripple our business," Jessica Frazey said of what would happen if the Supreme Court rules with previous courts that have said Pender sits within the Omaha Indian Reservation, thus giving the tribe authority to regulate the businesses and impose taxes.
The Frazeys have put off replacing the roof and floor in their store, not wanting to spend money on a business that they're not sure they could continue to operate if subject to more taxes and fees.
"It is not feasible," Frazey said of undertaking repairs amid the uncertainty. "We're literally a mom-and-pop gas station."
On Oct. 1, the Supreme Court granted certiorari, agreeing to hear the state of Nebraska's appeal of lower court rulings that said the sale of 50,000 acres of land on the western portion of the Omaha Reservation, an area in southwest Thurston County where Pender now sits, to white settlers in the 1880s did not change reservation boundaries.
When the court issues its ruling, it will end a legal battle now eight years long. More important to owners of establishments that sell alcohol in Pender, it likely will end the uncertainty of making business decisions while not knowing if they will be subject to tribal regulations.
"I'd kind of like to know what's going on," said Tom Welsh, owner of Welsh's Bar, which sits on Pender's Main Street.
In addition to beer and liquor sales, the bar serves food and has a popular pizza business. If Welsh ultimately must pay the tribal taxes, he'll face a decision on whether it's worth continuing to sell alcohol. Not only would he have to pay more taxes, but people in Pender also may choose to buy beer and liquor in neighboring towns off the reservation, such as Bancroft and Emerson, cutting into alcohol sales.
"If we have to quit selling alcohol, we will. We'll just go to strictly selling food," Welsh said. "We'll just have to wait and see. Hopefully we don't have to find out."
In 2006, the Omaha Tribe, which has its tribal offices on the other side of Thurston County in Macy, passed an alcohol ordinance requiring businesses that sell alcohol on the reservation to buy liquor licenses ranging from $500 to $1,500 annually. The ordinance also placed a 10 percent sales tax on all alcohol purchases. Those taxes and fees would be paid in addition to what retailers already must pay to state regulators.
"The initial thought was to initiate the license and work out the tax after that," said Maurice Johnson, Omaha Tribe of Nebraska attorney general. "We had never gotten to the point to where we would be able to work out how the tax would be applied."
Those discussions never took place because soon after the ordinance went into effect on Jan. 1, 2007, owners of seven Pender establishments, including Welsh, sued the tribe in U.S. District Court in Omaha, saying they were not subject to the ordinance because Pender is not on the reservation.
But in a 2014 decision, U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf said an 1882 act of Congress that opened land on the reservation for sale and settlement did not diminish the reservation. Kopf ruled that Congress had basically acted as a sales agent and held proceeds in trust for Omaha Tribe members but did not change reservation boundaries.
In May, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Kopf's ruling, affirming that all of Thurston County and a portion of Cuming County are within the Omaha Reservation. (In the 1860s, part of the Omaha Tribe's northern land in Thurston County was ceded to the Winnebago Tribe, which has its tribal offices in Winnebago.)
The Nebraska Attorney General's Office appealed the 8th Circuit ruling to the Supreme Court.
Gene Summerlin, a Lincoln attorney representing the Village of Pender, which is also a party in the lawsuit, said determining whether Pender is within the reservation is about more than alcohol taxes. If the tribe prevails, it opens up questions about enforcement of tribal regulations on a town populated mostly by white, nontribal members. The tribe could seek to require licenses for other types of business, Summerlin said.
"The dispute we're currently having involves alcohol but in reality goes far beyond that," he said.
Pender alcohol retailers are trying to figure their costs if the Supreme Court rules in the tribe's favor.
They currently pay for state liquor licenses that range from $100 to $300 annually. There's also a 5.5 percent sales tax and a 1 percent local sales tax Pender residents passed in 2008 to help pay for the legal expenses the village was incurring in this case. Pender has spent $770,000 so far on the case, village clerk Connie Miller said.
The tribe amended its ordinance in 2013. The cost of the liquor licenses remains the same, but the 10 percent sales tax has been changed to a rate, the ordinance says, that "shall be consistent with that of the prevailing base sales and use tax rate of the state ...."
Williams said the tribe would be willing to discuss that tax rate and how it would be collected with Pender retailers.
"We would enter into discussions with them," Williams said.
Since enacting the ordinance, Williams said, the tribe has granted licenses to a bar in Walthill and another in Rosalie, though it has put off collecting taxes until the lawsuit is resolved. The case has cost the tribe $1 million in legal fees, Williams said, plus the lost tax revenue, which the ordinance says is for the prevention and treatment of substance abuse on the reservation.
"It's certainly affected the tribe," Williams said of the lawsuit and tax collection delay.
In Pender, Welsh continues to operate as usual. He's concerned, he said, but there's not much he can do while waiting for a resolution. Arguments before the Supreme Court could take place as early as January or February, with an order sometime after that.
Whenever that ruling comes, Welsh said, he'll worry about what he's going to do.
"You just kind of go with the flow," he said. "Whatever happens, happens."
October 14, 2015
NYS Exposed: Is New York preventing some people from getting back to work sooner?
If your career requires you hold a license, New York State may be imposing some obstacles that will delay when you can get back to work.
Imagine that you are moving back to New York, but the state that’s been marketed as open for business is keeping you from starting your career. That is the situation Kate McCarthy is facing. McCarthy says she has felt powerless over the past months trying to get her massage therapy license in NY.
She showed News10NBC all the paperwork the state required, all of which she included in her application that she sent to the state. McCarthy says the state cashed her check and told her to hang tight for six weeks. Fast forward to four months – she is wondering why it is so hard to get an answer.
Kate McCarty can't use the massage table at her home to treat clients. "We've kept the door closed. We don't go in there very much."
Or at the place where she has a job lined up.
"The longer that she's not here, the longer she's not working, the more customers she's not exposed to and the harder it is to build a full-time practice," said Barbara Conti, Empire Therapeutic Massage Center.
It's all a result of a major delay in transferring McCarthy's massage therapy license from Utah to New York. When she moved home back in May, she applied for her New York State Massage Therapy license right away. But it was not a smooth transition.
"I felt pretty powerless, I was checking in with them I was calling them I was emailing them I was trying to go through the right avenues to push it along," said McCarthy. "I guess my paperwork moved to the bottom of the pile."
She says the state cashed her application check right away and told her to hang tight for six weeks. Fast forward to four months, she's wondering why it's so hard to get an answer. So what's the hold-up? We called the Office of Professions, the state agency reviewing the application. They told me they are looking into it, but didn't get a call back.
This is not a situation unique to McCarthy. According to a study done by Thumbtack.com, New York State was given an 'F' rating for ease of starting a business. So we turned to the state leaders that sit on the small business committee starting with Rich Funke in the state Senate.
Fath: "So here's a young lady that's trying to start a small business but being met by frustration. What's being done to fix this?"
Funke: "I'm not sure that there's anything to be done until we begin streamline the process of this relicensing of people."
Fath: "What do you mean by streamline?"
Funke: "We have $750,000 regulations on the books in the State of New York. Do we need that many regulations? Can we begin to work through some of these and see where some are overlapping others?"
It's not just regulations, the requirements are far stricter. In New York, massage therapists are required to have 1,000 education hours compared to neighboring Connecticut which has only 500 hours.
Fath: "Why is it so much harder to get a license here?"
Funke: "It just seems to be the way New York State is -- we think we're smarter than everyone else in some of these things. And again I don't think that we're open for business when people get mired in all this paperwork and regulations."
Meanwhile, McCarthy is missing out on time and money. She says, "To be met with such a delay and such a difficult transition, it made me feel like 'oh well maybe things aren't going to work out the way I thought I would, maybe I made a mistake, maybe I shouldn't be here.'"
If you want to weigh in in the subject, you can contact your local representative.
October 13, 2015
Columbia City Council Finance Committee Considers $100 Cap On Business License Fees
Columbia City Councilman Cameron Runyan is not waiting for re-election to fulfill one of his recent campaign promises.
The one-term at-large leader is fighting to reduce the cost of a business license fee in the city in an effort to keep businesses on this side of the Congaree River.
“We survived without taxing small businesses that are trying to put our people back to work in the city,” Runyan said. “We can flourish without it again in the future.”
Runyan, who chairs City Council’s finance committee, has been working out the details to cap the license fee for all businesses to $100. Owners currently pay a fee based on the type of business they operate and the gross income of the business.
The base range for the license can run from as little as $5.50 to as much as $180.
License fees and permit fees combined are expected to generate a little more than $36 million this year, according to the city’s budget figures. That total is a 20 percent increase from 2014, when roughly $30 million was collected. Revenues have increased more than $3 million between 2011 and 2014.
This year’s fees represent 28 percent of the budget.
Runyan’s plan calls for a five-year reduction of business license fees starting in 2016. The city would lose nearly $2 million each year and would go from $10.7 million in collected fees in the first year to to an estimated $793,295 in 2020, according to the Business License Division.
Runyan said audited budgets show the city still would have seen an average of $2.5 million in surplus revenue in the past three years if they had reduced the business license fee. He said those dollars could increase as more businesses open.
“My calculations say if you eliminate the business license tax today, you can put 500 people back to work in the city of Columbia,” he said.
Runyan also has proposed eliminating the Municipal Association of South Carolina’s ability to collect a business license tax for the city on insurance companies operating in Columbia.
The association streamlines the licensing process for insurance companies across the state and sets collection rates and dates through its insurance tax collection program. Most municipalities, including Columbia, use the program.
Money collected by the association is given to the municipality, but the association also takes 4 percent in the form of administrations fees, software and legal expenses under the program, said Roger Myers, Columbia’s business license director.
Runyan has made cutting taxes a priority since announcing his campaign for re-election two weeks ago. He signed the “No New Tax Pledge” by the South Carolina Association of Taxpayers last week. His plan resembles a bill currently in the state legislature requiring municipalities to charge no more than $100 in license fees on businesses.
Runyan classifies the license fee as a tax on businesses and said the licenses prevent companies from doing business in the city of Columbia.
“If you go up North Main Street you don’t see businesses up there; you see dirt lots,” he said. “Once you get out of the sphere of the university, and you get into an area where commerce has to stand on its own, it’s increasingly difficult to do that. That’s small businesses that we’re pushing out.”
Justin Evans, former owner of the Gamecock Stop that used to be at the corner of Rosewood Drive and Woodrow Street, said he had to shut his doors in October 2012 partly because of the increases in licensing fees.
“Two employees are now on unemployment that weren’t before and had jobs,” Evans said. “Fixing the business license tax would make a big difference.”
Runyan has to convince his fellow committee members, Councilmen Brian Newman and Sam Davis, to endorse his plan. Newman and Davis stated in Monday’s meeting that it was important to balance the impact on the budget and providing services to citizens while maintaining a pro-business environment.
“I’m not going to say that our fees need to be as low as other municipalities A smaller town has smaller fees, but there are benefits to living in a big city like Columbia,” Newman said. “We want to do all we can to make sure we’re a business-friendly community.”
October 13, 2015
Dispute Over Business License Results In Arrest Of Ambulance Owner
RUSSELLVILLE — The owner of Pleasant Bay Ambulance service picked up a misdemeanor summons Friday and was released on his own recognizance after being charged with operating an ambulance service without a city permit.
Accompanied by his attorney, Billy Underwood of Tuscumbia, Elzie Malone, who is also the Franklin County Coroner, left a courtroom hearing, walked to Russellville Police Department and picked up the summons.
He and Underwood left the Police Department, walked a block down Jackson Avenue to the Russellville City Hall and attempted to get a business license from the city, which was denied.
Underwood was notified Thursday by Russellville officials that the misdemeanor summons for Malone’s arrest had been issued. The charge of operating without a business license is a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
“He has a state license to operate an ambulance service, so I don’t understand why the city will not issue him one,” Underwood said.
“Our position is simple,” said Russellville city attorney Danny McDowell. “In order for an ambulance service to do business in the city of Russellville, private or otherwise, it has to be licensed. In order to be licensed, (the ambulance service) has to have the contract.”
City officials said Russellville, Red Bay and Franklin County, entered into contract with Shoals Ambulance last year to provide all emergency medical services for the three entities.
Underwood doesn’t believe the entities can be issued an “exclusivity contract.”
“They are relying on an (Alabama) attorney general’s opinion from 1997 that says a county can do an exclusivity contract,” Underwood said. “But that opinion was framed on doing (the exclusivity contract) for 911 on emergency calls.
“And that’s fine for emergency calls. Elzie is wanting to do non-emergency transports.”
According to neighboring entities, Colbert County is a non-contractual county, but the city of Muscle Shoals has exclusive contract with Helen Keller Ambulance service.
County officials said Keller Ambulance has a mutual aid agreement with Cherokee Rescue Squad to provide ambulance service from Alabama 247 to the Mississippi line.
In Lauderdale County, 911 Director George Grabryan has an exclusive contract with Shoals Ambulance Service to provide emergency medical service in the city of Florence and the entire county.
“I think it is a sorry state of affairs when we are turned into a socialistic government having only one ambulance transporting people back and forth to the hospital,” Underwood said.
He said as far as he is concerned, Pleasant Bay Ambulance service is still in business, even though the company doesn’t have a business license from the city of Russellville.
“He has a state license and has ... other certification needed,” Underwood said. “He has passed the same state testing and certification on his ambulance that all other counties require. And the state recognizes that and he has the required liability insurance coverage. The city should give him a license.”
Underwood said he plans to ask for a new municipal judge and prosecutor to hear the case against Malone because of conflicts with the current judge and prosecutor.
He said Roger Bedford, who is the Russellville municipal judge, represents Red Bay and Franklin County and wrote the EMS contract along with McDowell. The city prosecutor is Brian Hamilton who is in partnership with McDowell.
A date for the hearing has not been set.
October 12, 2015
Gonzales man booked, bar closed, for operating since March without a liquor license
A Gonzales man was arrested Tuesday for operating a bar without a valid state alcohol permit, according to the state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control.
Tommy Neal was booked into the Ascension Parish Jail on 210 counts of operating without a permit, and his business, Weber City Bar, at 42283 Weber City Road, was closed by ATC agents, with the assistance of Ascension Parish sheriff’s deputies, according to an ATC report.
An ATC agent who visited the business recently, following a complaint to the agency, learned that Neal had been operating the business since March 2015 but hadn’t gotten a state alcohol permit, the agency report says.
October 7, 2015
Rochester Hills, MI
Liquor Licensing Ordinance Allowing More Local Oversight Goes Into Effect In Rochester Hills
A changed liquor licensing ordinance went into effect Monday in Rochester Hills, allowing for more oversight into which restaurants, bars and taverns bring licenses into the city, officials said.
Liquor licensing is overseen by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission, but a recent change in law amended the process so the commission has to contact local communities when a business’ license is approved, transferred or otherwise.
The Rochester Hills ordinance amendment provides more notice to local officials when a business applies for a license, officials said. The ordinance is a companion to a recently adopted zoning ordinance amendment that requires conditional land use approval for alcoholic beverage sales at a restaurant, bar, or tavern.
The amendment will also:
• Require City Council approval of on-premises liquor licenses and license transfers, and
• Add non-payment of taxes and other obligations as a factor in officials’ consideration of an application.
Other communities in Oakland have enacted similar ordinance changes in recent years, including Bloomfield Township, said Rochester Hills Deputy Clerk Leanne Scott.
“It’s really for local knowledge of who in your city has a license. The state notifies us after the fact, but this allows government to be proactive,” said Scott.
It also will help local law enforcement plan for which areas may need extra patrols moving forward, City Clerk Tina Barton has said.
A committee was formed last year to make recommendations on annual inspections of city businesses carrying licenses, license applications and permit requests.
“It’s not just a control factor,” Barton said in March. “We’re not trying to strong arm (businesses). If we don’t know until after the fact (who has a license), police may not know which places may need more attention.”
Liquor licenses are approved based on a community’s population size and typically transfer between businesses during a change of ownership. However, existing licenses can be brought into the city with the relocation of a business.
Scott said Rochester Hills currently has no licenses available.
According to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission, there are 86 active liquor licenses — which can include bars, restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores and other businesses — in Rochester Hills.
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.