July 19, 2017
Marion adopts short-term rental ordinance, requiring Airbnb operators to get a license
The Southern Illinoisan; www.thesouthern.com
By Barb Eidlin
MARION — After considerable discussion, the Marion City Council voted Monday night to adopt an ordinance requiring any operator of a short-term rental to apply for a license with the city.
According to Marion City Attorney Steve Green, a short-term rental includes any property rented to somebody outside of the operator's family for more than 24 hours, but less than 30 days, including an entire home or a portion of land for tent camping or parking for RVs or campers.
City Administrator Gail West said that part of why this ordinance came before the council at this time was in response to the number of new short-term rental properties which have shown up on websites like Airbnb and VRBO in preparation for the eclipse.
“If you visit Airbnb, you will see two new properties added this week, and four that were established last week,” she said. “We are trying to have an impact on the community. If we don’t regulate this now, we will have to deal with complaints later.”
West also said that because current operators in the city do not have any registration with the city, they may not be complying with the safety code. That sentiment was echoed by Commissioner Anthony Rinella.
“With this ordinance, we can go to the operators and say if you are making money from this, you need to adhere to the safety codes," Rinella said. "Does the apartment have fire-rated sheet rock walls and ceilings or working smoke detectors?
"This ordinance will let us determine that."
West also said operators of short-term rentals are running a business, and are not just renting to local people.
“One property we looked at had 102 reviews since 2014, and some of those people came from as far away as California,” she said.
After some back-and-forth discussion over the definition of family, and whether or not the government should regulate what happens in a private home, a motion to adopt the ordinance was brought to the table by Commissioner Angelo Hightower.
“I have read this, and I have digested it," he said. "It’s pretty thorough. To me, it’s a no-brainer. How about I just make a motion and see which way the vote goes?”
Rinella added, “Renting short-term over the internet is a new thing, but people are already doing it, and we are putting ourselves more at risk by not regulating it.”
The measure was adopted 3-2 with Rinella, Hightower and Webb for it, and Butler and Goss against.
According to the discussion at Monday’s council meeting, as well as the council meeting that occurred June 26, operators will be required to apply for an annual license for a $50 fee.
In addition to upholding safety standards, the ordinance will also allow the city to determine if the addition of a vacation rental will have an adverse impact on the neighborhood or property values.
618-351-5074 | firstname.lastname@example.org | On Twitter: @barbeidlin
July 18, 2017
Electrical Contractors Can Now Get Statewide License — Bill Signed Last Week
By Monte Miller, Missourian Staff Writer
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has signed a bill that will allow electrical contractors to obtain a statewide license issued by the Division of Professional Registration (DPR).
Missouri was one of only six states with a patchwork of local regulations that prevented a free and fair market across the state.
With the new law, local jurisdictions can still set their own building code standards and still license contractors, but contractors will now have the option to receive a statewide license that will be recognized by all municipalities.
The text of the bill states any person who is operating as an electrical contractor in a political subdivision that does not require the contractor to hold a local license is not required to possess a statewide license.
However, each corporation, firm, institution, organization, company, or representative thereof who engages in electrical contracting must have at least one statewide licensed electrical contractor employed at a supervisory level.
Electrical contractors who hold a license that was issued by an authority in the state of Missouri prior to Jan. 1, 2018, and that required the passing of a nationally accredited written examination based upon the National Electrical Code, and completion of 12,000 hours of practical experience, shall be issued a statewide license.
Political subdivisions may still establish their own local electrical contractor’s license, but must recognize a statewide license in lieu of such local license.
If a political subdivision fails to recognize a statewide license, then the licensee may file a complaint with the DPR.
The DPR shall perform an investigation, and if it determines that the political subdivision failed to recognize a statewide license then the DPR shall notify and give the political subdivision 30 days to comply with the law.
Following the 30 days, if the political subdivision still refuses to recognize the statewide license then the Division shall notify the Director of the Department of Revenue who shall withhold local sales tax dollars until the political subdivision is in compliance with the law.
Any officer or agent of a corporation, partnership, or association who violates the act is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.
The bill, SB 240, worked its way through the Legislature with the help of two Franklin County legislators.
It was sponsored in the Senate by State Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, and handled in the House by State Rep. Kirk Mathews, R-Pacific.
July 17, 2017
Little Rock, AR
City: Owner of LR Nightclub Operated on Expired Business License for Months
By Jessi Turnure
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Two days before shots rang out at Power Ultra Lounge, hitting 25 people, the owner paid the city for his business license.
However, it was nearly seven months late.
According to Little Rock's Treasury Division, Herman Lewis paid in full June 28 what he owed the city, about $450 including fines.
The division said a business has never been shut down just for having an invalid business license. Of the city's 12,000 business accounts, collectors have to work to get payments for expired licenses from about 2,000 to 3,000 every year. Not all of the accounts are storefronts. Some are rentals or home offices.
However, the division said the nightclub was notorious for dragging its feet on payments.
Arkansans walking around the River Market Monday called for a crackdown on businesses.
"As well as the owner, I see the city at fault for things like this happening," said Greg Holloman. "It was going to be a big thing [the concert] and the owner decided to follow the rules. But if they were regulated and rules were enforced beforehand, this probably would have never happened."
"If they're not paying the license fees, they shouldn't be in business," Diane Wagner. "It's easy."
"Shut 'em down," Marion Levitt said. "We have to pay for our driver's license and all that. Business owners have to pay to have their business. If it's the law, obey the law."
The Treasury Division said Lewis's city alcohol permit expired June 30, the day of the concert. If Power Ultra Lounge was still open, he would owe $1,500.
The nightclub also had a mixed drink permit with the Alcoholic Beverage Control, which the agency immediately suspended after the mass shooting.
According to ABC, Power Ultra Lounge has been issued seven citations since 2012, mostly involving underage drinking.
According to Little Rock police, of the more than 50 calls to the 200 block of 6th Street since January, only eight listed the location of the nightclub.
July 12, 2017
Massage therapy license law aims to cut down on sex trafficking
By Nick Natario
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new Indiana law could bring an end to those looking to get more than a therapeutic massage.
Massage therapists must now get a license. It’s a law therapist Marhia Ross is excited for because she hopes it cuts out an ugly side to her profession.
“There is nothing worse than having a client come in and thinking that they’re going to get more than a therapeutic massage,” Ross said.
The problem is when parlors use women to go beyond massages. This October, seven central Indiana businesses were raided after officers investigated women performing sexual acts.
The situation is gaining more awareness. The Indiana attorney general’s office said the incidence of human trafficking tips quadrupled over the past two years.
To bring more help, state leaders enacted the licensing law.
“You can’t just be doing sex trafficking,” State Rep. Ron Bacon, a Republican from Chandler, said. “Pulling a woman off the street and throwing her into it and saying she’s going to be a massage therapist without that. This is what we’re trying to fix.”
Not just anyone can get a license — you must be at least 18; go through 500 hours of training from an accredited school and pass a criminal background check, and exam.
Those already practicing who don’t have a license won’t have to stop immediately because the law gives people six months to get their license. Indiana Therapeutic Massage Schools is one of the places where those 500 hours of training can be earned.
That’s where Ross teaches. As for the law, she knows it adds more requirements. “A lot of people are like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to go through all these extra steps, and stuff,'” Ross said.
But the law, she said, is worth it to give her the peace of mind she’s provided to so many others. “That is not what we do,” Ross said. “That’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to actually help people.”
Since the state had a certification process in the past, lawmakers said the licensing agency should be able to handle the changes. It’s not free. In order to apply, you have to pay a $100 fee, and get a renewal every four years.
July 11, 2017
Off-duty Polk deputy spots scam suspects accused of performing illegal, shoddy driveway work
By Kevin BouffardWINTER HAVEN — An off-duty Polk County Sheriff’s deputy says he caught two Davenport men red-handed — or perhaps black-handed — performing illegal driveway sealing at a Winter Haven house.Larry Nicholas, 45, and and Lawrence Nicholas, 32, face felony charges of home solicitation without a permit and failure to secure workers’ compensation, according to a news release from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office said the men’s ages are based on the dates on their Wisconsin driver licenses, and Larry told deputies that Lawrence is his son.The Sheriff’s Office says it is continuing to investigate the men, and additional charges are possible. The statements gave the following account of their arrests:Off-duty Sgt. Chris Katsoulis was driving through Winter Haven on Wednesday when he spotted two men performing possibly illegal driveway sealing at a home on Cypress Gardens Boulevard.The Sheriff’s Office had received reports from homeowners of men offering to pour asphalt or sealant onto their driveways for cash. Once the work is done and the suspects leave, homeowners soon discover the work was shoddy, the Sheriff’s Office said.Katsoulis reported his suspicions about the Nicholases to the sheriff’s Bureau of Special Investigations, and detectives arrived shortly thereafter.The detectives observed both Nicholas men performing sealing work from their 2015 Chevrolet truck, which was pulling a homemade trailer with a 500-gallon tank of asphalt sealant.The homeowners confirmed the men approached them offering to do the work for $1,300 cash. When the homeowners had second thoughts, they asked the men if they were licensed to do the work, and they said they were not.Lawrence Nicholas also told detectives the duo had made the deal with the homeowners. He acknowledged they did not have a Florida solicitor’s license nor did they have a business license, tax certificate or workers’ compensation coverage.The younger Nicholas also told detectives the pair had solicited and performed other construction work in Polk County, but he could not provide names and addresses.Detectives arrested Lawrence Nicholas and found he was carrying $1,364 cash.When detectives interviewed Larry Nicholas, he denied forcing the homeowners into the deal. But he also acknowledged his company, Nicholas Contracting, does not have an occupational or business license, nor workers’ compensation.Detectives arrested Larry Nicholas on the two felony charges and notified the Division of Insurance Fraud at the Florida Department of Financial Services, which will conduct a further investigation.Polk Sheriff Grady Judd asked other Polk homeowners with information about the Nicholas men’s activities to call his office at 863-298-6200 to help the investigation.— Kevin Bouffard can be reached at email@example.com or at 863-401-6980.SOURCE: http://www.newschief.com/news/20170629/off-duty-polk-deputy-spots-scam-suspects-accused-of-performing-illegal-shoddy-driveway-work More...
July 6, 2017
Newport Beach, CA
Newport Beach shuts down 78 unpermitted vacation homes; more are under scrutiny
Los Angeles Times; www.latimes.com
By Hillary Davis | Contact Reporter
Newport Beach’s new short-term rental monitor has helped the city close the door on nearly 80 unpermitted vacation rental homes in the past month, with dozens more under review, the city says.
Based on about five weeks of data from Host Compliance, a company that combs 22 online platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway to see who’s advertising their homes for vacation rental without proper local clearance, Newport has shut down 78 rentals and has about 50 more to review, Kim Brandt, Newport Beach’s community development director, told the City Council on Tuesday.
Residential properties offering short-term rentals — defined as less than 30 days — have long been part of the local culture, with zoning, lodging permits and business licenses to regulate them. But the recent popularity of online short-term rental platforms that don’t have a physical presence here has made it difficult for Newport Beach to regulate such rentals, Brandt said.
Newport currently has about 1,300 active short-term lodging permits. The city doesn’t keep track of how the properties are advertised, such as through online platforms or a traditional property management firm, but it does collect a 10% occupancy tax, also called a bed tax, as it would for a hotel room. Short-term rentals generated about $2.7 million in revenue last year, accounting for 10% of the bed tax total.
Most of the permitted short-term rentals are at the Balboa Peninsula, Balboa Island and Corona del Mar. The vast majority are in neighborhoods zoned to allow multifamily housing. In 2004, the city banned vacation rentals in areas zoned only for single-family homes.
Much of the recent crackdown has been in single-family-only neighborhoods, where only 120 properties operating before the ban were “grandfathered.” This is where all of the 78 homes that have ceased offering vacation rentals are located.
Those property owners will have to pay the city back taxes and get a permit if they intend to continue offering short-term rentals. But Brandt said they may be cooperative.
“Believe it or not, people can be very forthright in giving that information to us,” she said. “We can also look at their listings and we can get a sense of the time the property’s been advertised, and perhaps we can get some cooperation with the online hosting company too.”
Brandt said HomeAway sent Newport a letter this week agreeing to share its listing information and require its hosts to put their permit numbers in their listings. She said the city would follow up with Airbnb.
The two major platforms agreed in May to share their host information with San Francisco, where vacation rentals have been a pressing topic.
Host Compliance compares addresses in Newport Beach’s database of permitted hosts with listings on vacation home websites. Newport is one of the company’s roughly 50 clients worldwide and one of 15 in California. The city has a one-year contract with the monitor.
Brandt plans to update the City Council with additional results later this year.
July 5, 2017
Here's how post-prison life will change under Louisiana's criminal justice reform
By Julia O'Donoghue | firstname.lastname@example.org
NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
Louisiana lawmakers approved a criminal justice system overhaul -- one that advocates are calling historic -- during the 2017 regular legislative session. We've broken down the package into three parts, the third of them here about what will be different when an offender is released with prison.
Safeguards for victims
When violent offenders are released from prison, their victims may request that the attackers limit contact and keep a certain distance as a condition of parole. The conditions are not automatic; they are subject to a decision by a parole committee. This change takes effect Aug. 1.
Crimes of violence include armed robbery, murder, manslaughter, home invasion, sexual assault, rape, stalking, carjacking, domestic abuse and certain drunk driving offenses that result in death.
Payment rules relaxed
A judge may waive or suspend fees, fines and victim restitution payments for people who are on parole and probation and not able to afford them. In some case, the person would be placed on a monthly repayment plan for outstanding fines or fees.
For the most part, people also would not face having their probation extended or being sent back to prison solely because they cannot pay. An exception is allowed for victim restitution, for which parole may be extended once for six months.
This new set of laws takes effect Aug. 1.
Business licenses easier to get, keep
People coming out of prison for a non-violent crime may apply immediately for business licenses or start the credential process needed to get a business license, without having to wait. That's a change from current law, which makes some ex-convicts first apply for a provisional license or wait two years to get a permanent license.
An ex-convict will be at risk of losing his or her business license only upon commission of another crime that is similar to the one that landed them in prison. A business license will not be automatically cancelled if, for example, someone's parole or probation is revoked for a new crime unrelated to the previous offense.
People convicted of several violent crimes, such as murder, are not entitled to receive a business license. And a judge may decide that a person poses a safety risk and forbid the person to obtain certain types of business licenses
These news laws go into place Aug. 1.
Relief on child support payments
For the most part, people in prison and also under court order to pay child support won't have to pay while they are locked up, and that debt will not accumulate while they are incarcerated. The goal is to limit the amount of debt that people face immediately upon release from prison.
Advocates of criminal justice reform say ex-inmates are more likely to return to crime and end up in jail again if they face thousands of dollars in delinquent child support payments upon release. Delinquency leads to their wages being garnished and discourages them from finding legitimate work.
Those who can afford to pay child support, despite being incarcerated, still must make payments. And those who are in prison because of not paying child support in the first place, and those incarcerated for for domestic abuse charges, also are not excused from payments.
Once a prisoner is released, a judge may order child support for a longer period of time. These payments could go towards supporting an adult child, something not typically allowed, and extend to as many years as they were suspended while the offender was in prison.
This law will go into effect Jan. 1.
Food stamps for drug offenders
Drug felons will get access to food stamps and other federal welfare benefits upon release from prison, instead of having to wait a year. People convicted of violent felonies already are eligible for food stamps and other welfare benefits immediately.
This law change will take place Oct. 1.
July 4, 2017
Fort Payne, AL
The city of Fort Payne is cracking down on business license checks
WHNT News; www.whnt.com
By Olivia Steen
FORT PAYNE, ALA. - "You know people tend to get a little lax in their business."
The city of Fort Payne hasn't had a license inspector for two years. That all changed in May.
"Andy Park our city clerk handed me four pages of business owners that were basically delinquent," says Mike Griggs, License Inspector and Special Service.
As the new inspector, Mike Griggs will be calling and visiting businesses on that list.
"A lot of the people that were on the list may be plumbers or roofers or people along that line that may live in the county or something and will eventually come into Fort Payne and do a job."
Regardless of the type of business -- if you provide a service in Fort Payne, you must renew your license every year.
"We'll give folks.... like next year January 1 will give you til February 1 and by that time you need to hopefully be paid," says Griggs.
Because if you don't, you could face some serious consequences.
"The first thing would be the court appointment and come see the judge and at that point... we hope it doesn't come to that. It's a pretty stiff fine. It could be as much as 500 dollars a day for every day that it's late and then it could be up to so many days in jail."
Griggs will be inspecting businesses throughout the summer.
July 3, 2017
Southington police remind businesses to renew licenses for pinball, pool, games of chance
My Recording Journal; www.myrecordjournal.com
By Record-Journal staff
SOUTHINGTON — Police are reminding those with licenses for pinball machines, games of chance and pool tables that their licenses will expire on June 30.
Licenses must be renewed at the police department upon payment of a fee. If licenses aren’t renewed, the owners of businesses with pinball machines, games of chance and pool tables will be in violation of a town ordinance and subject to arrest, Sgt. Jeff Dobratz said in a statement Monday. The ordinance also applies to the owners of businesses where new machines are installed.
June 27, 2017
In court filing, Seabrook justifies $7,000 fireworks license fee
Daily News; www.newburyportnews.com
By Angeljean Chiaramida | Staff Writer
SEABROOK — Town attorneys recently responded to the lawsuit filed by six local fireworks stores, claiming the town’s $7,000 fireworks license fee is too high.
The suit was filed in March by attorney Keri Marshall on behalf of Atomic Fireworks, Fantasy Fireworks, Fireworks Over the Border, Phantom Fireworks Showrooms, Rockingham Fireworks Manufacturing and Display, and Rudy Fireworks Enterprises. The plaintiffs claim that since other businesses in town, such as Walmart, pay only $25 per year to renew their annual businesses licenses, the $7,000 fee for fireworks stores is arbitrary, unreasonable, excessive, punitive, discriminatory, and, as a result, unconstitutional.
According to Marshall’s suit on behalf of her clients, the New Hampshire Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that to be valid license fees “must bear a relation to and approximate the expense of issuing the licenses and in inspecting and regulating the business licenses.”
But, according to the rebuttal filed by town attorney Justin Pasay, of Donahue, Tucker and Ciandella, given the “unique and inherent danger” that fireworks provide, and Seabrook’s tragic history with fireworks establishments, the fee is justified.”
The $7,000 fee supports the expense it costs the town to issue, inspect and regulate fireworks businesses to protect the public’s health, safety and welfare, according to Pasay’s “Affirmative Defense.” The fireworks industry is heavily regulated, Pasay wrote, and the high local fee is also based on “the destructive history” of fireworks sales in town.
According to Pasay, Seabrook experienced a tragedy in August 1982, when a fireworks factory exploded, killing two people, injuring five more, destroying five of 10 buildings on the site, and flattening the factory itself.
“Due to the potential for similar incidents at retail fireworks stores, a threat not similarly imposed by Walmart, Lowe’s or virtually any other business in town, the town’s fire department spends a considerable amount of time each year inspecting facilities and ensuring fireworks retailers comply with state statutory and regulatory schemes,” Pasay wrote.
Further, according to Pasay, the fee is high because the town has to be prepared for another similar mishap.
Seabrook Town Meeting established issuing business licenses and for selectmen to set fees in 1991, Pasay wrote. In 2000, Town Meeting acted again, preventing any more fireworks businesses in any town zone. The action basically grandfathered all fireworks retailers in business at the time, forbidding any new ones.
According to Pasay, the significant cost of a fireworks license in Seabrook “safeguards against the possibility of undercapitalized, unsuitable and potentially unscrupulous entrepreneurs purchasing grandfathered (fireworks) businesses.”
Pasay wrote that the high fee translates into the protection of the general health and welfare of the public “by ensuring only serious, dedicated individuals own and operate retail (fireworks) establishments,” in Seabrook.
As a result, he wrote, there’s nothing arbitrary, punitive, discriminatory or unconstitutional about the $7,000 fee for a licenses to sell fireworks in Seabrook.
Pasay also stated that the plaintiffs took an unreasonably long time in filing their lawsuit. The license fee was raised from $5,000 to $7,000 in May 2014. The lag time extends beyond the statute of limitations, according to Pasay.
In upholding the $7,000 fee, Pasay’s rebuttal denies damages requested by the plaintiffs of refunding retroactively all their licensing fees and the payment of their attorney’s fee.
According to the case docket, a trial date was set for May 2018, but mediation of the suit by a third party could take place in February 2018.
Angeljean Chiaramida can be reached at 978-961-3147, at email@example.com, or follow her on Twitter @achiaramida1.
June 22, 2017
Panama City Beach, FL
State eyes PCB Councilman Solis’ rental business
Panama City News Herald; www.newsherald.com
By John Henderson | News Herald Reporter
Solis self-reported to the state that he was lacking a required vacation rental license after a local real estate agent brought forth a complaint against his short-term rental business.
PANAMA CITY BEACH — An investigation into a bevy of complaints levied against Panama City Beach Councilman Hector Solis has revealed he operated his short-term rental business on the Beach for about four years without the required rental-condo permit.
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation is investigating allegations made by real estate agent Jessica Diliberto and at least one other person. Diliberto’s complaint alleges Solis is operating his HTS ventures short-term condo rental business without required state licenses. While the complaint didn’t specifically mention the rental-condo permit, Solis said he discovered he needed it after the complaint was filed and self-reported to the state DBPR. Solis and his wife, Traci, received the license June 2.
“As soon as allegations were made, we did further research and discovered a collective license is required under DPBR — Division of Hotel and Restaurants,” Solis wrote in an email. “It should be noted, during a phone call to DBPR, we self-reported that we did not have the license following the submittal of our application. Additionally, we also reported it to the Division of Real Estate ... It is our belief, that the majority of small property management businesses do not even know this license exists, as nowhere in the application for state registration to pay taxes does it request it, inform you of it, or give any direction about it.”
Kathleen Keenan, DBPR deputy director of communications, wrote in an email that failure to obtain the license “is a high priority violation and subject to administrative action.”
Asked whether the agency was taking action against Solis, she replied, “We cannot make a determination at this time. According to the Division of Real Estate, there are still two unlicensed activity complaints against Hector Mario Solis that are currently under investigation. When the investigation is complete, the cases will be forwarded to the Office of the General Counsel for attorney review, and they will determine how to proceed.”
Diliberto states in her complaint that there is “sufficient evidence” to show Solis is operating a property management company and “performing broker duties without a broker’s license as required by Florida law.”
“It is very serious,” Diliberto said. “If you operate without a broker’s license, that is engaging in real estate activity without being licensed.”
But Keenan wrote in an email that under the DBPR’s Division of Hotels and Restaurants rules, a person can manage short-term rentals by securing a vacation rental license and entering into a rental agreement with the unit’s owner without having to obtain a broker’s license.
“A licensed agent is someone that the property owner has authorized, through a rental agreement or contract, to hold out the property for rent on a transient basis,” according to a guide to vacation rentals and timeshare projects put out by the DBPR. “A licensed agent is not required to hold a license from the Division of Real Estate.”
In a recent interview in their beachfront condo, the Solises also presented copies of rental agreements with the owners of the rental units they are managing.
Solis noted Diliberto is making allegations, not statements of fact.
“Anyone can make allegations whether they have merit or not,” he said. “In this case, complaints were submitted to the Division of Real Estate, who don’t not even regulate short-term rentals. We have paid all transient rental taxes to the state, county and city from the first day of rental.”
Diliberto also states in her complaint that she believes Solis is not registered with the Florida Department of Revenue in order to be able to pay the required 6.5 percent state tax, 5 percent county tourist development tax and 1 percent city tax.
But the Solises also produced documents showing their rental units are registered with the Department of Revenue and documents showing they have been paying state, county and city taxes on their units. Solis said they sometimes pay the taxes early, but always on time. Mel Leonard, PCB planning director, said the couple have all of the required business licenses from the city and have been good about paying city taxes on time.
Diliberto’s complaint also alleges Solis failed to register HTS Ventures with the Department of Business regulation as required by Florida Statute 865.09 and failed to register a fictitious name with Sunbiz.org as required by Florida Statute 869.09.
“It is a Texas company, and it’s not licensed in Florida at all,” Diliberto said in an interview Thursday. “There is no company even licensed here under HTS Ventures, and he’s advertising it and he put on his candidate form, ‘HTS Ventures.’ You can’t advertise an unlicensed company like that.”
Keenan said, however, the Solises would not be required to create a new Florida company if they are operating a short-term rental company in Panama City Beach under their Texas company’s name.
“This is not a requirement of Chapter 509, Florida Statutes,” she wrote.
According to records on the state’s Sunbiz.org website, Solis’ application on June 9 to register the HTS Ventures LLC with Sunbiz.org was rejected. Late in the day Thursday, it was approved, and his Texas company became listed as one doing business as a Florida limited liability company. Solis said the state didn’t initially have all the paperwork needed to approve his application, and he and his wife registered the company with the state in the event the company needed to sue someone.
“That (filing was a) precautionary measure,” he said. “We still don’t believe we needed to do that. We did it in case we need to file a lawsuit in Florida.”
June 13, 2017
Orangeburg County, SC
Orangeburg County considers business licensing
T & D; www.thetandd.com
By John Mack | T&D Staff Writer
Orangeburg County Council is considering requiring businesses to obtain a license.
County Administrator Harold Young said a business license would bring “additional revenue and that would save us from having to increase millage.”
Council members discussed implementing a business license program during a budget work session last week.
“Right now there is nothing in the county,” Planning Director Richard Hall said. “If a business is in the city and they do work in the county, the city collects all that money because we don’t have a business license.”
The county is considering a plan with a varying rate, depending on the type of business. On average, businesses would pay $1 per $1,000 in revenue for companies making less than $1 million.
“There’s a declining rate structure built in for businesses making over a million dollars, which would hit a lot of the industrial stuff,” Hall said.
He noted that there are currently 1,750 businesses with gross sales of $1.2 billion. If averaged, this would mean each business makes around $719,000.
Hall said based on that number, it could mean additional revenue for the county of almost $1.3 million in business license taxes.
“We feel like this is a low number,” he added.
Hall said city had roughly $1.1 million in revenue from business license taxes last year.
“It’s about 12 percent of the finance department’s budget,” he said.
Hall said the county gets calls weekly from businesses asking how much they owe the county for a business license.
“We just tell them we don’t have one,” Hall said.
Councilwoman Janie Cooper-Smith said, “We’re losing revenue right there.”
Councilman Harry Wimberly asked if businesses would need to pay for both the city’s business license and the county’s.
“If they have a business that’s inside the city limits and they do work in the county, they pay a percentage for the work they did in the county to the county,” Hall said. “That comes off of their city business license.”
Cooper-Smith asked how the license would work for peddlers.
“It’s a combination effort,” Hall said. “You write the people that are out there without a license a ticket.”
She also asked, “How hard is it to get a business license?”
Hall said a business license is “really just a formality.”
“For a peddler, it doesn’t matter,” he added. “You come in and you fill out a piece of paper and you apply for it at the county.”
Businesses must go through a process, which includes the county ensuring that the business meets the zoning requirements for its property.
Wimberly asked about agricultural businesses.
“We don’t have a profit margin,” he said. “When I carry a crop to market, I get paid what they say, not what I say.”
“I may have a gross income of a million dollars, but I might have a profit margin of 1 percent and you’re going to take 2 percent of that for business taxes,” Wimberly added.
Hall said it would be an easy fix to adjust who pays what.
“The business license, it’s not a tax on profit or anything like that, it is a fee for your ability to do business in a jurisdiction,” he said. “We would just have to determine what all businesses fit into that category that you want.”
Wimberly suggested a flat fee for agricultural businesses that grow products, not including agriculture-related businesses such as Super Sod.
Hall said the county will look at how other counties have been handling agricultural businesses.
If council approved the business licenses over the course of three readings and the public heating, the licenses could go into effect on Jan. 1.
Council members felt they should push to have it sooner for prospective businesses.
“You’ve got to look at what’s coming,” Wimberly said. “If they come, we’ve got to have it July 1.”
“Whatever we’ve got to do to have it July 1, we need to do it,” Councilman Clyde Livingston said. The county could lose revenue from contractors who do spot work after July 1.
Young said, “Even if you pass it July 1, we don’t have the infrastructure in place to back it up right now anyway.”
Hall said the county would need to find and purchase necessary software, get ready for billing and hire a business license director.
Council directed staff to research the possibility of passing the ordinance before the next fiscal year and holding first reading at the next council meeting.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org or 803-533-5516.
June 7, 2017
Peachtree Corners, GA
Businesses in Peachtree Corners now required to display licenses
By Karen Huppertz
The Peachtree Corners City Council recently approved an amendment to an existing ordinance requiring all businesses operating within the city to display their occupational tax certificates in a prominent place within public view.
Occupational tax certificates are also referred to as business licenses. “The amendment brings the city current with standard practices for municipalities,” said Peachtree Corners City Manager Brian Johnson.
“As a general rule, it is always good business practice for businesses to post their licenses for public viewing,” added Johnson. “Posting your license for the public assures your clients and customers that you are legitimately licensed.”
To operate a business in Peachtree Corners, including a home-based business, you must have a current occupational tax certificate. Other permits and licenses may also be required, depending on what type of business you plan to operate.
The new ordinance also requires occupational tax certificates must be shown to any appointee of the city upon request. Information: www.peachtreecornersga.gov.
June 7, 2017
Town Says Teens Who Cut Neighborhood Grass Must Pay $110 For Business Licenses
The Daily Caller; www.dailycaller.com
By Eric Owens | Education Editor
Government officials and the owners of professional lawn-mowing services in a Birmingham, Alabama suburb say teenagers must pay $110 for an official business license if they want earn some cash this summer cutting the grass in neighborhood yards.
The site of the business license brouhaha is the town of Gardendale (pop.: 13,893), reports local ABC affiliate WBMA.
Local residents say they aren’t happy about the $110 tax on teenagers who are actually trying to do something useful in society.
Elton Campbell, whose granddaughter cuts the grass in a few neighborhood yards, is one such resident.
“She charges one lady $20, and another lady $30, and another girl $40 besides what we pay her,” Campbell told WBMA.
“One of the men that cuts several yards made a remark to one of our neighbors, ‘that if he saw her cutting grass again that he was going to call Gardendale’ because she didn’t have a business license,” Campbell claimed.
Alainna Parris, Campbell’s granddaughter, told the station she plans to use the money she earns by mowing lawns “for admissions and stuff like that — trips.”
Gardendale Mayor Stan Hogeland explained that everyone operating a business within the city limits must fork over $110 for a business license.
“I would really love to have something on our books that gave, I guess, a more favorable response to that student out there cutting grass,” Hogeland told the local ABC affiliate. “And see if there’s maybe a temporary license during the summer months that targets teenagers.”
The Gardendale city clerk did not respond to questions from The Daily Caller.
Parris, the lawn-mowing teen, told WBMA that she believes it’s unfair to make teens pay $110 for a business license because they mow the occasional lawn for a few bucks.
“There’s kids at home on iPads and electronics and not wanting to go outside,” she observed.
Follow Eric on Twitter. Like Eric on Facebook. Send story tips to email@example.com.
May 25, 2017
Spokane offers anmesty period for companies delinquent on their business registration
The Spokesman-Review; www.spokesman.com
The city of Spokane will waive penalities for local companies delinquent on their city business registrations if they act by the end of August.
About 3,000 businesses operating within city limits haven’t registered with Spokane’s Tax and Licensing Department, which is required annually, officials said. Businesses that are not properly registered can be fined up to $536 per day.
The city will get the word out to businesses that haven’t complied, said Margaret Redd, taxes and licenses specialist for the city. Warning letters will be issued in the final month of the amnesty period. Previously unlicensed businesses can register without incurring the civil infraction penalty.
For more information on registration and costs, visit http://bls.dor.wa.gov/cities/spokane.aspx.
May 23, 2017
Wednesday: Atherton reconsiders business license tax
The Almanac; www.almanacnews.com
By Barbara Wood
Something Atherton's City Council has considered several times in the past -- making changes to the town's business license tax -- will be on the agenda again when the council meets Wednesday, May 17.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the town's council chambers, 94 Ashfield Road.
The council has been working on changes to the business license tax as part of an ongoing discussion of ways to increase town revenues.
Any changes in the tax would have to go before the voters in an election during which council members are scheduled to be elected, which won't be until November 2018. To pass, the tax would have to be favored by at least a simple majority (just one vote over 50 percent) of voters.
The current business license tax, applying to anyone who does business in Atherton, from pool cleaning companies to real estate companies, ranges from $25 to $250 a year. It raises about $228,000 a year.
Also on the agenda are two recommendations from the town's Transportation Committee. The committee recommends the town join East Palo Alto in its lawsuit against Menlo Park, claiming the environmental report, prepared when Menlo Park approved major general plan and zoning changes for its M-2 industrial area, doesn't properly address the effects on neighboring jurisdictions.
The committee also recommended Atherton consider hosting a regional meeting to discuss transportation issues in neighboring jurisdictions that have overlapping effects.
Also on the agenda is the swearing in of Police Chief Steven McCulley, and hiring a consultant to help the town draw up agreements with the Las Lomitas School District about installing a $13.6 million runoff diversion system at the Las Lomitas School.
The consultant would also help the town draw up agreements with jurisdictions contributing runoff to the facility about paying for any future repairs to the facility, which is to be designed to prevent future flooding and keep pollutants out of the Bay.
May 22, 2017
Isle of Wight, VA
IW supervisors debate changes to business license fees
The Tidewater News; www.tidewaternews.com
By Stephen Faleski
Isle of Wight’s Board of Supervisors is considering changing the county’s business license fee structure to require a $5 payment for businesses with gross receipts of less than $4,000 and extending the county’s $50 flat fee to cover the first $50,000 of any business earning over $50,000 annually. The discussion took place during a work session on Thursday evening.
Smithfield District Supervisor Dick Grice was the one who suggested the change. Currently, the county does not require businesses with gross receipts under $4,000 to obtain a business license and specifies a $50 flat fee for businesses earning $4,000 or more, but less than $50,000. Businesses earning over $50,000 currently pay a fee determined by a rate per $100 depending on the type of business.
According to numbers provided by Gerald Gwaltney, the county’s commissioner of revenue, under the proposed change, 801 businesses in the county, or roughly 68 percent of the county’s businesses, would pay the flat rate of $50, while 373 businesses earning $100,000 or more would not be affected by the change. By using a flat $50 fee instead of a rate per $100 for the first $50,000 earned by businesses making between $4,000 and $100,000, Gwaltney predicted the county would lose approximately $87,000 in revenue, but that that revenue would be retained by the affected businesses. County Administrator Randy Keaton added that because business license fees are based on the calendar year rather than the fiscal year, the earliest the new rates could take effect would be Jan. 1, 2018.
Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson said that before debating specific fees and rates, it would help him and county staff to know what the board’s intention is for potentially changing the county’s business license fees.
“If the intent is to help small businesses, we can develop a rate structure that can do that; if your intent is to have accountability of those businesses [earning less than $4,000] then we need to look at whether this is the best mechanism to get them to come through the door and file for a business license,” Robertson said.
Carrsville District Supervisor and Chairman Rex Alphin said he thought lowering the minimum sale amount to $0 would burden neighbors who create and sell $10-items like picture frames as a hobby. However, Grice said he was not asking to tax hobbies or one-time sales.
“But if you are opening up a door and you’re do ing it on a regular basis, for example, if I resell ammunition in my garage and I’m selling it to my neighbors and friends and maybe over the internet, and I’m doing it regularly, does the county want to know that?” Grice asked. “I think it’s important that we know things like that. An Amway distributor, they’re driving all over the county making deliveries, that’s a business and they should have a business license.”
Hardy District Supervisor Rudolph Jefferson said he didn’t think either a $5 fee or a $50 fee was going to break anyone’s plans to grow his or her business but said he felt $5 would be insufficient to cover the administrative costs of imposing the fee and producing the paper business license.
Newport District Supervisor William McCarty felt that the current $4,000 threshold was being exploited as a loophole.
“As it stands right now, I can create 25 businesses, each making $3,500 per year, making a total of $87,000 per year tax free,” he said. “You have the other guy who’s making $50,000 to $75,000 per year and following what he’s supposed to be doing but nothing’s preventing me from creating as many businesses under the threshold and even selling the same product. I can even change my name. Today I’m McCarty Shoes and tomorrow I’m Bill’s Shoes, and I’m pretty confident that that’s going on in the county.”
The board tabled their discussion of business license fees following Robertson’s recommendation that they not incorporate the changes in the proposed fiscal year 2017-2018 budget.
“It’s going to be an implementation nightmare if you try to do this [now],” he said.
Also on the agenda for the evening was a presentation by Doug Fritz, a senior water researcher for GKY Associates and the county’s director of utility services, Don Jennings, on potential new legislation by the General Assembly concerning erosion and sediment control. The way the bill is currently worded, it requires any locality that operates a regulated municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4), which the county no-longer does, or that administers an erosion and sediment control program by July 1, 2017,” which the county currently does have, to possibly need to combine the two.
“It kind of links you in the back door to being required to continue to operate the program,” Fritz said. “The DEQ (Virginia Department of Environmental Quality) said that the reason that caveat is there is to keep people from opting out of the [MS4] program once they have it.”
“We are being asked to agree to a regulation that has not been promulgated yet,” Jennings said regarding the bill’s confusing and incomplete wording. “We’re not even being asked to pass something that we haven’t read; we’re being asked to pass something that hasn’t even been written yet.”
One possible option Fritz suggested, which would prevent the county from being required to once again implement capital projects mandated by an MS4 permit, is for the county to cede control of its erosion and sediment control program to the state. The disadvantage of that option is the county would relinquish local control of its stormwater systems and the resulting revenue from the collection of stormwater fees.
May 18, 2017
Market Place vendors must get business permits
The Sentinel; www,hanfordsentinel.com
By Seth Nidever | Staff Reporter
HANFORD – Going forward, the dozens of for-profit vendors who come to downtown Hanford's Thursday Night Market Place will have to pay business license fees to the city, according to city officials.
That has officials at Main Street Hanford, the nonprofit downtown promotion organization that runs the Market Place, worried that vendors will be scared away.
Vendors haven't been required to pay the fees "for the last 16 years," according to Shelly Johnson, executive director of Main Street Hanford.
"I don't know if it will dissuade any of our vendors from coming out or not," she said. "It may."
Johnson said she's not sure how much vendors will have to pay.
Hanford City Manager Darrel Pyle said Hanford's municipal code requires business licenses for anybody operating a for-profit enterprise in city limits.
Pyle said it was an oversight that the code wasn't being enforced for Market Place vendors.
He estimated that most vendors would end up paying less than $50 a year.
Pyle said vendors might be able to pay less than the annual fee if they only operate in Hanford for a few months out of the year.
He said he didn't realize vendors at the Market Place weren't all paying the fee until he received an inquiry about it from somebody in a "neighboring community."
Pyle said that when he asked Johnson, she informed him that vendors haven't been required to do so.
Pyle said there are "very few exceptions" to the license fee requirement. He said the requirement extends to mobile food trucks and roadside stands.
Pyle said he's not sure what the compliance rate is locally.
According to Hanford City Attorney Ty Mizote, there is an exemption that applies to charities that raise money solely for charitable purposes.
Mizote said the exemption would apply to the operating permit fee Main Street Hanford collects from Market Place vendors.
The fees are Main Street Hanford's single biggest source of revenue, according to Johnson.
Mizote said the exemption applies to nonprofit groups who get a space at the Market Place to raise money for their organizations.
Steve Banister, a member of Main Street Hanford's board of directors, expressed concern that requiring all vendors to have business licenses could drive some away and prevent others from coming.
Banister said there are ambiguities in the application process that could make it challenging for vendors to navigate.
"It might be a little intimidating for people who are just coming out once a week," he said.
Other Main Street organizations running farmer's markets have worked out compromise arrangements with leaders in their cities.
Julia Truilo, executive director of Ormond Beach MainStreet in Florida, told Ormond Beach leaders that the policy of requiring every vendor to have a license was "preventing me from getting vendors that were necessary for the health of the market."
Truilo said the upshot was that her organization was able to obtain an overarching business license that covered all the vendors.
Suzy Moyd, executive director of Main Street Hartsville, in North Carolina, said she goes to the Hartsville City Council every year to ask for an exception for her farmer's market vendors.
"It always passes," she said.
Pyle said that in order for such accommodations to happen in Hanford, the city's municipal code would have to be amended to reflect the new approach.
"Right now, somebody is going to have to propose something different," he said.
The reporter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 583-2432.
May 18, 2017
Pelham council introduces amended business license moratorium
Pelham Reporter; www.pelhamreporter.com
By Briana Harris
PELHAM – With the city’s current business license moratorium set to expire on May 31, the Pelham City Council conducted the first reading of an amended zoning ordinance relating to new business licenses for certain businesses at its meeting on Monday, May 15.
In 2014, the city adopted its first business license zoning ordinance declaring a one-year moratorium on the issuance of business licenses for payday loan, car title loan, check cashing, gold and silver brokers, tattoo parlors, pawn shop, vape shop, tobacco shop and used automobile sales businesses.
Each year the city has opted to extend the moratorium and along the way it was amended the state that the “City Council may approve the issuance of a business license for an existing business which is subject to the moratorium on a case-by-case basis upon application to the City Council.”
The amended ordinance presented for a first reading at the May 15 meeting introduces new aspects into the moratorium. The ordinance now extends to massage parlors and includes a two-tiered structure that includes the Commercial Development Authority as an advisory body for certain businesses seeking a business license.
The ordinance states that the moratorium does not apply to banking or lending institutions that are insured and regulated by agencies of the United States or the state of Alabama.
Businesses asking for an exception will be reviewed by the CDA board first and the CDA board will present their findings and make a recommendation to the council, which will make the final decision on whether to issue a business license.
The proposed ordinance also includes a new 1-mile radius distance separation restriction. Automobile sales businesses are exempt from this restriction.
Existing businesses are grandfathered in at their current locations.
Councilman Ron Scott said the proposed ordinance is impressive and offers stronger protection that what the city currently has.
“I think the CDA is the appropriate venue for a first review,” he said. “This is a better vehicle to accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish. It’s comprehensive and I like the two-tiered structure.”
Councilman Maurice Mercer added that the council sought input from the CDA board and the Planning Commission while making changes to the ordinance.
“I love putting more people in the process,” Mercer said. “That makes it more fair for everybody.”
But Pelham business owner Glenn Wills is still worried. He owns G’day Vape located on Pelham Parkway and his store’s lease is set to expire at the end of June. Wills said the property owner notified him in February that his lease will not be renewed and the space his store occupies is going to be used to expand an existing business in the shopping center.
Wills approached the council seeking their approval to relocate his business.
“I run an honest and ethical business and I’ve never had any legal, police or tax issues,” Wills said. “I have almost 1,400 regular customers and if I can’t relocate, it will put me out of business.”
Willis said he has found another location in Pelham to relocate to, but he needs the council’s approval to do so. He said losing his business would be financially devastating to him and his family because most of his life savings are tied up in the business.
The moratorium does not allow businesses to open second locations or move to a new location.
Scott said the moratorium is something that was driven by Pelham residents, not by any one council member’s agenda. During the 2012 City Council race, Scott said he learned while campaigning that Pelham residents are most interested in the city’s school system, the appearance of U.S. 31 and state of the city’s retail sector.
“We didn’t put anyone out of business and allowed the ebb and flow of commerce to take place,” he said. “The goal is to attract the higher end retailers that people would like to see. We have received positive feedback from the community about the moratorium.”
Despite concerns that sales tax revenues would decrease as a result of the moratorium, Scott said revenues from sales taxes have increased each year over the past two years.
May 11, 2017
San Francisco, CA
Uber fights to block SF’s demand for drivers’ names, addresses
By Carolyn Said
Uber is going to court seeking to block San Francisco from forcing it to provide the names and addresses of its drivers.
The city wants the information so it can notify drivers that they are required to get business licenses, just like all other small enterprises in the city, from nail salons to freelance writers. But Uber, which previously has provided the information for city audits, says it wants to protect its drivers’ privacy.
“The tax collector’s office is asking us to give them personal information of drivers — including their home address — without their consent and will put that information on a public website,” Wayne Ting, general manager of Uber Northern California, said in a statement. “We’ve asked the city to allow us to get the consent of drivers and to remove their personal information from the public website, but they have refused.”
Uber filed a petition in San Francisco Superior Court on Monday, and said it plans to file a motion to quash a subpoena on Tuesday.
“Uber’s suit against the City and County is nothing but an attempt to circumvent the tax laws that apply to all businesses in San Francisco,” José Cisneros, San Francisco treasurer, said in a statement. “I will continue to fairly enforce the law and collect taxes — and I look forward to our day in court.”
According to the motion, San Francisco’s tax collector served Uber with a subpoena in February demanding that it provide contact information for all drivers who used its service in the last six months of 2016. After some back-and-forth with Uber, the tax collector modified the subpoena to cover drivers who worked in San Francisco for at least seven days between July 2016 and March 2017.
The treasurer’s office set off a firestorm of controversy a year ago when it said that Uber and Lyft drivers, as independent contractors, must pay $91 a year for business licenses. Uber and Lyft subsequently revealed that they provided the office with driver information as part of city audits.
Over the past year, the treasurer has sent letters to some 57,000 Uber and Lyft drivers. About 20,000 have registered with the city. Another 12,000 or so said they are no longer driving, had already registered or considered themselves employees. That leaves about 25,000 unaccounted for.
Lyft, which was not a party to the petition, did not respond to a request for comment.
There are some steps drivers can take to keep their personal information from public view on the website of registered businesses, according to Amanda Kahn Fried, a spokeswoman for the treasurer. Drivers and other small businesses can shield their addresses by using post office boxes when they register with the city, and can shield their names by registering through a business name. However, both those steps require a level of knowledge and sophistication that many drivers may lack.
“When I went to the website (to register for a business license) I stopped dead in my tracks because they wanted me to put my home address down and disclosed it would be made publicly available on a website,” said Amber Scott, a Vallejo resident who drives about 60 hours a week for Uber, about half of it in San Francisco.
In the Bay Area, San Jose also requires a business license from drivers. Scott worries that other cities like Oakland might also impose a registration fee on drivers, seeing this as a handy new source of revenue.
“I don’t mind paying for a business license, but definitely not for every single city I end up in,” she said. “It could become cost-prohibitive. The number of cities I do pickups or drop-offs in during even one particular shift could be more than I can count on one hand.”
A bill pending before the state Legislature, SB182, would alleviate such fears by allowing ride-hail drivers to obtain a single business license to operate in all cities and counties statewide. Drivers could choose where they want to get that license.
San Francisco and other cities say the bill would undermine their authority. “These drivers add to the wear and tear on city streets as well as require additional law enforcement and other on-street enforcement staff due to the high volume of infractions,” the city wrote in a letter opposing it.
But Mike Montgomery, executive director of CALinnovates, a technology advocacy coalition that counts Uber among its members, said his group supports it.
“SB182 starts to look at simplifying and solving the problem for gig-economy entrepreneurs,” he said. “Maybe it should be expanded for plumbers and graphic designers and dog walkers.”
Carolyn Said is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @csaid
May 9, 2017
Friday Harbor, WA
Business License Renewal; Avoid a Citation
San Juan Islander; www.sanjuanislander.com
The Town of Friday Harbor wants to thank all businesses that were prompt in renewing their business licenses for year 2017/2018.
We are now a month into the new business license year and the Town is auditing its records to determine who is no longer doing business in Town or may be operating without a license.
Town is currently inactivating all accounts that were not renewed for the 2017/2018 license year. This week, the Town Code Enforcement Officer will be issuing citations to those businesses who are known to be conducting business without a license. This is a Class IV civil infraction.
Unlicensed businesses are urged to avoid this unpleasant action by renewing their license or contacting the Town to make arrangements.
If you have questions or concerns regarding your business license, please contact the Town Clerk at 378-2810. For more information regarding the business licensing program, see Friday Harbor Municipal Code Chapter 5.04.
May 8, 2017
Business license pricing comes under fire
By Rob Ruth | Independent-Enterprise
Payette City Councilor Craig Jensen is unhappy with the City of Payette’s business license pricing policy.
The problem Jensen sees is that Payette’s charge of $25 is considerably higher than the price set by other small Idaho cities he has checked, and Payette also requires business owners to purchase a new license every time they move the business.
“It’s a 25-dollar pop each time,” Jensen complained during a discussion of the issue at Monday night’s work session of the Payette City Council.
Jensen had asked the item to be added to the work session agenda after he was contacted by Barbara Wilson, owner of ABM Alterations. Several months ago the business moved to 126 S. Main St., its third location within Payette, and Wilson was recently notified by City Hall that she needed to buy a new license immediately.
She said the new license would be the third she has purchased for this business.
For Jensen, whose personal focus area within the city’s long-running strategic planning project involves ferreting out all “nuisance fees” from the city’s policies and procedures affecting business and initiating the fees’ reduction or extinction, is certain that the business license policy so qualifies.
He said he contacted the cities of Fruitland, New Plymouth, and Weiser to check their pricing. Although Fruitland does require a new business license every time a business moves, a license there only costs $5. New Plymouth, meanwhile, only exacts a one-time charge of $5, and Weiser doesn’t even issue business licenses.
“My first concern is the cost,” Jensen said. “Since we’re trying to act like we’re a business-friendly community, … we’re a little expensive and a little hard to deal with.”
Jensen added, “I put this into the category of nuisance fees.”
Councilor Ray Wickersham said he could see eliminating the fee altogether, but he wouldn’t be inclined to take the partial measure of reducing it.
“I would either go with nothing, or keep it at twenty-five dollars as a one-time fee,” Wickersham said.
“I’m also in agreement [with Jensen],” Councilor Nancy Dale said. “It fits into your nuisance fee category.”
“Personally, I wouldn’t want to go the way of Weiser and not have a business license,” said Councilor Lee Nelson.
Mayor Jeff Williams pointed out that the fire chief makes contact with business owners and performs inspections as needed in connection with any new license. This can include performing inspections of a new location for an existing business that was previously licensed.
“I think it’s important to our public safety that we do have the fire department go out and look at the places,” Williams said.
The city’s business license pricing is set by ordinance, Williams said, so an ordinance change will be required.
April 27, 2017
Las Vegas, NV
Senate panel OKs business license bill for rideshare drivers
Las Vegas Review Journal; www.reviewjournal.com
By Sandra Chereb | Review-Journal Capital Bureau
CARSON CITY — Drivers for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft will have to verify they have a state business license under a bill approved Friday by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Labor and Energy.
Senate Bill 226, sponsored by Sen Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, now goes to the full Senate.
New drivers would be given six months to obtain a state business license and provide annual verification.
A general state business license costs $200 a year.
Contact Sandra Chereb at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-461-3821. Follow @SandraChereb on Twitter.
April 25, 2017
Annual business license fee use debated
Chicago Tribune; www.chicagotribune.com
By Karen Caffarini
Hobart businesses could be required to pay for a business license on an annual basis, the proceeds of which would be used to pay for fire inspections.
Councilman Dave Vinzant, D-4th, said the inspection would be looking for safety- and fire-related hazards, which could be passed on to code enforcement.
"It would be up to the Board of Works (and Public Safety) to say we will revoke your license if violations are found," Vinzant said.
City Council members noted during a recent ordinance committee meeting that Hobart is one of just a few cities or towns in Northwest Indiana that doesn't require and charge businesses for a license.
"Many calls we get ask about business licenses. It's been a lost opportunity because they expect it," said the city's economic development director, Denarie Kane.
She said the license could serve not only as a check for fire use, but land use as well.
Vinzant said one question facing the council is how to decide what is a business. He said, for instance, if someone operates a beauty salon in their basement, it would need a business license.
"Whether the fire department does an inspection, is up to them," he said.
Another question was whether a landlord is considered a business owner.
inzant said the next step will be to call a meeting with department heads to get their feedback on the proposed ordinance.
Karen Caffarini is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.
April 20, 2017
Folly Beach, SC
Going to the mat on beach businesses: Yoga classes under new scrutiny on Folly Beach
The Post and Courier; www.postandcourier.com
By Prentiss Findlay | email@example.com
FOLLY BEACH — Seaside yoga classes have gotten so popular here that the city is bending over backwards to figure how best to regulate them.
"It’s definitely sweeping the island," said Spencer Wetmore, city administrator. "And once one thing becomes a little bit popular, everybody wants to do it."
Options include requiring City Council approval for a franchise agreement, or a business license to offer beach yoga classes.
Mayor Pro Tem Dale Stuckey said she would talk with residents and rental agencies to ensure that classes don't interfere with public enjoyment of the beach.
Wetmore said beach yoga rules would level the playing field.
"The idea is, we want to make it fair to the other lessons and camps on the beach who are paying to be there," she said.
Yoga classes are not mentioned in the city ordinance that regulates commercial activity on the beach.
Melora Morgan, of Charleston, accepts donations from students for her beach yoga classes and would like to continue.
"I love Folly Beach," she said. "Whatever they need me to do, I’m happy to do."
Some other yoga instructors want to have classes on the beach, too.
"I had a number of people asking me if the weather got warmer, if we could start doing classes on the beach," said Alexandra Lucia. She currently teaches yoga at her West Ashley apartment. But the seashore has a special appeal.
"I think for a lot of people it's very calming or soothing."
Yoga instructors Matthew Stephens and his wife Jenny, who live in Summerville, also want to teach at the beach.
"We’ll see what the city says," he said. "I think the beach offers something special."
Folly's existing regulations for businesses that are allowed on the beach came about because surfing and paddleboard instruction mushroomed into a free-for-all that led to resident complaints.
"We moved to a franchise system to try to get some order out there," Wetmore said.
A franchise also means that the city gets four percent of the revenue from a business on the beach.
A map of businesses on the beach — discussed at the last Council meeting — shows surf sport instruction at four locations from 4th Street East to 10th Street East, and at three locations from near 4th Street West to 7th Street West. Watercraft, beach chair and umbrella rental franchises are approved from 3rd Street East to 3rd Street West.
Up to four surf camp and two paddleboard camp franchises are allowed for up to 40 students each between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. at city-approved locations. Surf and paddleboard lessons for up to five students do not require a franchise agreement but must have Council approval and a business license.
Providers of surf lessons and camps are required to have at least $1 million in liability insurance. Instructors must be lifeguard, CPR and first-aid certified. Watercraft rentals, such as for Jet Skis, also face stringent standards.
The situation at Folly is unique to the area.
At Sullivan's Island, no commercial ventures are permitted on the beach.
Isle of Palms allows a beach business franchise, but there have been no applicants, said Douglas Kerr, director of building, planning and zoning.
There was once a plethora of beach surf and paddleboard classes at IOP, but they faded away when the city imposed new rules on them, he said.
Folly Council plans to address the issue of beach yoga classes at its April 11 meeting.
"I think what we need to do as a Council at our next meeting is to get a grip on what everyone wants to do on this beach and make some decisions about what we're going to allow," Stuckey said.
April 19, 2017
Livingston Parish, LA
Hundreds of Livingston Parish businesses fail to renew licenses
The Advocate; www.theadvocate.com
By Ted Griggs | firstname.lastname@example.org
When the deadline hit for Livingston Parish and Denham Springs businesses to renew their occupational licenses last year, just about all of them did. This year, roughly 1 out of every 5 did not file renewals — another troubling sign of the scale of disruption from August's catastrophic flood.
Those who didn't renew were mostly "mom-and-pops," said Denham Springs Mayor Gerard Landry. "The majority of them were home-based businesses like an attorney or somebody like that."
One business owner that closed was Louisiana Purchases Antique Mall proprietor Deanna Welch, who ran her business for 21 years. Like so many people, she didn't have flood insurance, and with no income, she couldn't secure the Small Business Administration loan she needed to make repairs.
In Denham Springs, 90 percent of which went underwater, 186 businesses, or 22 percent of the total, hadn't renewed their occupational licenses as of Thursday with a Friday deadline. A year earlier, 20 to 25 businesses, only about 3 percent, didn't renew, Landry said.
Outside Denham Springs and Walker, 410 businesses, or 23 percent of the total, didn't renew their licenses this year. In a normal year, the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office might see 40 to 50 nonrenewals, spokeswoman Lori Steele said.
Still, Livingston Parish may be in for a pleasant surprise. The Advocate called a random dozen businesses that had yet to renew and found nine were either open; displaced but still in business elsewhere; or planning to reopen. Recovery is a slow process — for businesses as well as homeowners competing for contractors and trying to adjust in a world turned upside down.
Brandon Buhler, owner of Total Custom Carbs & Dyno, a custom-built carburetor business in Walker, said he's still trying to make repairs to his building and could be back in full operation within a month or so. For now, he's displaced, working out of another garage. Buhler said he's not really sure what he's supposed to do about getting an occupational license for a building that can't be occupied yet.
Gene Nelson, director of operations for Winco, said he wasn't sure what happened with Red Rocket Fireworks' business licenses. It's possible the renewals are still being processed, he said. Red Rocket reopened some time ago and is looking forward to a big Fourth of July, which is just three months away.
As for Welch, she may have closed, but she sold her property to a jewelry business.
License renewal notices went out in December, with reminders distributed in early March. The big rush was in January, and some renewals still could come in late, Landry said. So far, 14 renewal notices returned "no such address," meaning there was nobody to deliver it to.
The scary part is it's still possible that a higher percentage of the nonrenewals may be permanent; a scenario based on National Flood Insurance Program statistics shows 40 percent of flooded businesses never reopen.
Livingston's commercial utility account closures fall right in line with the flood program's projections. Some 169 commercial and industrial customers in Livingston Parish have closed their Dixie Electric Membership Corp. accounts since the flood. That's a 37 percent increase over the same period a year ago.
At Entergy Corp., 59 Livingston Parish business customers closed their accounts from July 31 to Oct. 31. The 2015 numbers were not available for comparison.
Experts say disasters fall more heavily on small businesses, few of which carry flood insurance or the resources available to large firms. Being closed even a few days can kill or cripple a small business. Many Livingston Parish businesses were closed for weeks or even months.
The flood convinced Dr. Phil Thiac and his wife, Janet, to close their Maurepas veterinary clinic and retire after 43 years in business.
"The flood has taken it's toll on our facility and our lives, so we are going to let a younger, smarter, more energetic generation take it's turn to provide the love and care your pets need," the Thiacs said in a March 5 Facebook post.
Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce CEO April Wehrs said it's frustrating that eight months after the flood, there's still no central clearinghouse that can provide data on the number of businesses flooded, reopened or closed.
The chamber has the software to compile that data, but it doesn't have the manpower or funding to track down every business owner in the parish to ask how they're doing, where they're based and those sorts of things, she said. The result is that no one has a handle on the exact number of businesses that have closed because of flooding.
"Everybody wants to know what the numbers are … but as far as having a pulse on every single business in the parish, it’s been very tough to pull those numbers together," Wehrs said.
About 200 of the chamber's members flooded and 100 or so did not, she said. Lots of the member companies are doing well, but the chamber members' recovery percentage is undoubtedly better than that of the parish as a whole.
Business recovery overall is hit or miss, Wehrs said. Although a number of smaller businesses are definitely having issues, others have returned. Both Wehrs and Landry said the recovery has been slowed by the enormous demand for contractors — for home and commercial repairs.
Even well-heeled corporations have taken time to return. The Denham Springs Wal-Mart reopened last week. Other retailers, like Kohl's, aren't coming back.
Landry said the recovery is just going to take time.
So far, the business interruptions and closures haven't affected Denham Springs' sales tax collections, mainly because so many people had to buy new cars, do home repairs and replace furniture and appliances, Landry said. Those sales are starting to taper off, but more commercial businesses, like Wal-Mart, are reopening and that should help.
"Obviously we can't maintain the 20 percent increases that we've been seeing. So where are we going to level off at?" Landry asked. "I just hope we are even with last year. I would be happy with that. Am I being optimistic? Of course, I am."
Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter, @tedgriggsbr.
April 5, 2017
Los Angeles, CA
California Uber drivers would need only one business license under new legislation
Los Angeles Times; www.latimes.com
By Liam Dillon
California Uber and Lyft drivers would have to register for only one business license no matter where they drive in the state under a bill unveiled this week by a Los Angeles lawmaker.
Senate Bill 182 from state Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Los Angeles) attempts to make it easier for drivers to comply with local rules governing taxation and registration for independent contractors — an employee classification the companies have long argued fits their drivers.
“This bill would add clarity to the process of obtaining a business license for drivers while protecting working-class Californians from fees and costs that can dramatically impact their ability to do business,” Bradford said in a statement.
California cities and counties have been trying to implement the fees as a way to regulate the fast-growing ride-hailing industry. Last year, San Francisco began pushing drivers to pay the $91 annual fee to register. Drivers have worried that cities will require them to register wherever they drive, creating a web of licenses needed to work legally across different jurisdictions. Bradford’s bill would allow drivers to register with one city and use that license to drive across the entire state.
March 29, 2017
Westwood Village, CA
Westwood business owners struggle to obtain liquor licenses
Daily Bruin; www.dailybruin.com
By Sierra deSousa | News reporter
email@example.com - @sierra_desousa
If local workers want to get cocktails at happy hour after work, they have limited options in Westwood Village.
The Westwood Neighborhood Council, which advises the city on alcohol permit applications, imposes conditions on businesses’ alcohol sales because state guidelines restrict the number of businesses that can sell alcohol in the district.
Some say the rules, which often include banning hard liquor and happy hours, impede the growth of Westwood businesses.
Angus Beverly, the council’s student director, said he thinks fewer alcohol restrictions may generate economic growth in the Village, citing Culver City as an example of an area with many liquor licenses and thriving business.
“I am a firm believer that there are repercussions to regulating business,” Beverly said. “We have to be careful about creating a reputation for being nitpicky, because that will affect future business in the Village.”
Some council members said they are reluctant to support alcohol permits because the Village has an overconcentration of permits already.
“We are very hesitant to give full liquor to anyone we think should not be serving alcohol,” said Sandy Brown, the council’s vice president. “It’s a big responsibility. You need to show that you know how to manage what you are asking for.”
Business owners must apply for a California state liquor license and a city of Los Angeles conditional use permit through the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
The council’s Land Use and Planning Committee evaluates the application, researches the establishment and presents its recommendation to the council to either oppose or support the request. Finally, the council votes as a whole and presents its recommendation to Los Angeles City Council Member Paul Koretz’s office, which makes the final decision about the permit.
“Although the council is strictly advisory, it carries a lot of weight,” Beverly said. “Nine times out of ten, the city follows our recommendation.”
Brown said the LUPC does not have a list of criteria businesses must fulfill to receive a permit. The committee visits the restaurant and considers its business plan, menu, location, size of the space, hours of operation and history of the establishment and owner.
SpireWorks, a doner kebab restaurant on Broxton Avenue, received its beer and wine permit last year despite the LUPC’s recommendation to oppose it. LUPC chair Connie Boukidis moved to oppose SpireWorks’ application in its July meeting, but the council voted to defeat the motion. Boukidis could not be reached for comment as to why she opposed the motion.
Amir Rahimi, owner of D1 Café, a Mediterranean-Italian fusion restaurant that will open in March, applied for a full liquor license in October and is waiting for the city’s response. The neighborhood council originally supported the restaurant’s full alcohol permit application in November, but reversed its decision at its December meeting.
“He has never had a liquor license before, and he did not understand English,” Brown said. “We were concerned about that because it is his first experience selling alcohol.”
Council members believed he did not understand the responsibilities of selling alcohol close to a primary school, she said.
Shirin Shojapour, project manager at D1 Café, said Rahimi is an Iranian immigrant who has eight successful restaurants in Iran.
“I find it unfortunate and distasteful that a business owner’s language barrier is deemed reflective of his intelligence, ability to process information or ability to run a business,” she said.
Shojapour added the restaurant’s employees, who include a fully licensed bartender, will all be English-speaking, as is Rahimi’s wife and business partner.
The council recommended that Rahimi amend his application to a beer and wine permit only. However, since the hearing with the zoning administrator had already taken place, Shojapour said he would have to withdraw his existing application and reapply for a beer and wine permit, incurring up to $25,000 in fees. Rahimi decided to pursue his existing application for a full liquor license and is waiting for the city council’s final decision.
Miguel Anaya, owner of Pinches Tacos, a Mexican restaurant on Glendon Avenue, applied for a beer and wine permit two months ago and is waiting for the ABC’s verdict.
Anaya said many customers from the area have warned him that acquiring a permit is a difficult process in the Village.
“I think it is an unfair process because we are not trying to do anything illegal,” he said. “We are just trying to run a business, and there are much more important things to focus on.”
Another notable alcohol permit debate was CityTarget’s 2012 request for a license to sell liquor for off-site consumption. Brown said the council opposed the supermarket’s license request because Rite Aid, Ralph’s and Trader Joe’s already sold alcohol in nearby locations.
Target responded by asserting its business model involved offering customers the convenience of having everything in one place, said Andrew Thomas, executive director of the Westwood Village Improvement Association. He added the battle likely cost Target a million dollars. After a yearlong conflict with the neighborhood council, the city council unanimously approved CityTarget’s liquor license in August 2013.
Thomas said he thinks other districts in Los Angeles do not make it difficult for businesses to receive alcohol permits.
“There is a feeling that is perpetuated that alcohol is a problem,” Thomas said. “But I think it’s fiction that serving alcohol at these restaurants is going to lead to debauchery in Westwood.”
Sierra deSousa is currently a news reporter covering Westwood, transportation and Los Angeles. She has also covered the University of California.
March 27, 2017
Open for Business? Kingwood council confused over business license approval process, Zigray: '“We have been rough on businesses and desperately need new business'
The Preston County News & Journal; www.theet.com/prestoncountyjournal
By Theresa Marthey | Staff Writer
KINGWOOD — Kingwood City Council voted to have all “brick and mortar” business licenses applications reviewed by the city zoning board before coming to City Council.
A debate about the application process occurred at last Tuesday night’s meeting. Members reached the agenda item for the approval of two business license applications: Shay & Yoho Law Office and the Last Hot Spot.
“Did these go to the zoning board before coming to us tonight,” City Recorder Bill Robertson asked.
City Clerk Mary Howell replied “no,” adding that the business license applications did not formally go before the zoning board before coming to Council.
“It was my understanding that I was to discuss the applications (business license) with zoning and to determine if zoning had any problems with it before I brought them to you,” Howell added.
She said the city’s Zoning Board did not have any problems with the Shay & Yoho Law Office being located on Court Street because the location was already zoned as office.
“However, with The Last Hot Spot, they wanted to take some measurements because the potential entrance could be 100 feet from a residential district, and that would be a violation of the zoning ordinance,” She said.
Jason Hyre, who applied for The Last Hot Spot license, was at the meeting and told members of council he did not understand there was a problem.
“I will change the entrance on Route 26 to an exit to get this approved, and people can enter by coming down the steps” Hyre said. “However, just a few months ago, the council approved another Hot Spot license that has an entrance within 100 feet of a residential area, and there were no problems.”
Council members couldn’t remember approving any business license applications that were that close to a residential area, but Hyre said the location was Stacy’s Hot Spot on Pleasant Street.
“You approved that without it going to the zoning board first,” Hyre argued.
According to city records, council did approve a business license application for Stacy’s Hot Spot in November 2016.
Councilman Jeff Zigray said he is concerned the Council is penalizing people who are trying to do everything right to start a business.
“We have Mr. Hyre here who is trying to everything by the rules, and we are penalizing him,” Zigray said. “Then, there may be some businesses that aren’t following the rules and are sliding by. That isn’t right.”
Kingwood Mayor Curtis Stiles agreed with Zigray.
“Until someone comes to us like Mr. Hyre telling us about it, I don’t know if we will know these things,” Stiles said.
The council agreed to send both business license applications to the zoning board for recommendation and approval before coming to council. Meanwhile, Zigray said he believes the city is making the process of getting a business license more complicated then it needs to be.
“We are trying to bring businesses into Kingwood,” Zigray said. “We have been rough on businesses and desperately need new business.”
Robertson agreed and said he would like to see all businesses on a level playing field.
“We seem to go from one set of standards to another,” Robertson said.
At the end of the discussion, Councilman Jean Manuel Guillot made a motion to have all “brick and mortar” building licenses applications go to the zoning board for approval before coming to council for a vote.
The motion passed 3-2, with Councilmen Lefty Stonebraker, Guillot, Robertson and Wiley voting for the change. Councilman Dick Shaffer and Zigray voted against.
Staff Writer Theresa Marthey can be reached at (304) 276-1127 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 21, 2017
Emergency Power! Mayor Cleared to Pull Business Licenses
By Joseph Hosey (Patch Staff)
JOLIET, IL — The Joliet City Council cleared the way for the mayor to suspend a business’ license for seven days without going through the trouble of holding a hearing.
The council voted 7-1 to allow Mayor Bob O’Dekirk to shutter a licensed business. Councilman Pat Mudron was the lone dissenter.
“I think it opens us up for litigation,” Mudron said.
At Monday night’s pre-council meeting, Inspector General Chris Regis explained that the measure was intended to “close an existing loophole in the city ordinance” and will let the mayor close down a “potentially dangerous business,” such as one where drugs are being sold.
“This gives the police department an additional tool to do their jobs,” Regis said, telling how the ordinance is “investing emergency power in the elected official.”
The mayor must first consult with the city legal department before going ahead and suspending a license, according to the ordinance.
“The mayor can’t just do it,” Councilwoman Jan Quillman said Monday night. “He has to get some legal advice.”
March 13, 2017
No exemptions on business license fees for Prescott
The Daily Courier; www.dcourier.com
By Cindy Barks
Owners of home and apartment rentals will not get a break in the City of Prescott’s business license requirements, after an effort to change the rules failed with the City Council this week.
Prescott city staff members had recommended a change to the business license program, which went into effect on Jan. 1, to exempt owners of long-term residential rentals from the requirement to get a $35 annual business license.
City Budget and Tax Manager Lars Johnson explained at the City Council’s Feb. 28 meeting that the residential-rental requirement had generated many questions and complaints from the rental owners.
To date, Johnson said, the city has licensed 638 of the community’s 3,482 residential rentals.
In response to the complaints and confusion, the budget and tax department recommended this week that the City Council reconsider the requirement for long-term residential rentals. For those owners who had already paid the fee, the staff was recommending refunds.
The proposal did not get that far, however.
With Councilman Steve Sischka absent from this week’s meeting, the vote ended in a 3-3 tie, causing the motion to fail.
Councilman Greg Lazzell, who had strongly opposed the idea of a city business-license program, suggested that the city to rethink the program.
“Now we’re making an exception because it’s unfair and confusing,” Lazzell said, adding, “I think we should just trash the whole thing.”
The two other council members who voted against the business license program (which passed by a 4-3 vote in May 2016) agreed.
“I didn’t support a business license to begin with,” Mayor Pro Tem Jim Lamerson said. “I saw this coming. We don’t have the resources to enforce (the license) on everybody equally, so we’re going to pick and choose.”
Councilman Steve Blair also opposed the program in 2016, and voted against the change this week.
The three remaining council members present at the meeting (Mayor Harry Oberg, and council members Billie Orr and Jean Wilcox) voted for the change, but because of the tie, the motion failed.
Tuesday’s vote might not be the end of matter, however. City Attorney Jon Paladini said after the meeting that council policy allows for any two council members to ask to have an issue reappear on a future council agenda.
Meanwhile, numbers from Johnson indicate that overall compliance with the city’s new business has been relatively sluggish.
Since Jan. 1, the city has received 2,170 applications for business licenses – compared with the rough estimate of 10,000 businesses in the community.
Johnson said on March 1 the city will enter the enforcement phase of the business-license implementation, which will begin with another round of letters notifying businesses that they must apply for a license.
The city’s two other new license requirements have also been slow to catch on. Along with the business license, a license for vacation rentals (short-term residential use of 30 days or less), and one for sober living homes also went into effect Jan. 1.
While the city had earlier estimated that about 100 sober living homes operate in the community, Johnson reported Tuesday that 13 sober living homes have so far applied for the new license.
Part of that can be attributed to the fact that a number of group homes in Prescott must register through the state, he said, which exempts them from the city license.
In addition, some sober living homes may have gone out of business or left the community since the city’s previous estimate, Johnson said, while others may have reduced their number of residents to four or fewer, which also exempts them from the city’s license requirement.
Vacation rental license compliance of 26 applications is also well below the city’s earlier estimate of about 150 properties.
March 7, 2017
Cities worry that they may lose millions of dollars from business licenses
Independent Mail; www.independentmail.com
By Kirk Brown and Eric Connor, Anderson
Proposed legislation could costs cities and towns in Anderson and Greenville counties nearly $10 million in revenue from business licenses
Officials with cities and towns throughout the Upstate say legislation dealing with business licenses could create financial burdens and strain essential services.
The bill in the South Carolina House of Representatives may affect cities such as Greenville, Greer and Anderson, as well as small towns such as Honea Path, where the mayor worries that a loss of revenue could lead to cuts in the police force.
Greenville could see a loss of $5.7 million as a result of the measure.
"This bill is like aiming a torpedo directly at the city of Greenville," said Mayor Knox White, adding that the proposal "has the potential to totally disrupt everything we are doing."
The same measure could trim business license revenue by $1.9 million in the city of Greer and $1.5 million in the city of Anderson, officials said Thursday. The losses would total at least $856,000 combined in Belton, Clemson, Easley, Honea Path, Iva, Pelzer, Pendleton, Starr, West Pelzer and Williamston, according to Scott Slatton, a legislative and public policy advocate with the Municipal Association of South Carolina.
The revenue losses stem from exemptions for insurance companies and other businesses under a bill proposed by Rep. Bill Sandifer. A Republican from Seneca, Sandifer is chairman of the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee.
Sandifer said Thursday that he wants to make the process of obtaining municipal business licenses less complicated and more fair. Under the current system, he said, some businesses have to obtain licenses from dozens of cities that have different rules. He also the cost of these licenses is based on an economic factors that are "grossly unfair" to businesses.
"We are not out to harm the municipalities at all," said Sandifer, whose committee passed his bill last week.
The measure, which is waiting to be debated on the House floor, has 13 co-sponsors, including Reps. Eric Bedingfield and Dan Hamilton, who are Republicans from Greenville County, and Brian White, a Republican from Anderson.
Sandifer said he is "sitting on the bill" in hopes of striking a compromise that would satisfy groups such as the Municipal Association and South Carolina Chamber of Commerce. But he also complained that the Municipal Association has not shown a willingness to negotiate in "good faith."
Municipal Association officials said Thursday that they support efforts to standardize and streamline the process for issuing business licenses, but they are concerned about the "Christmas tree of exemptions" in Sandifer's bill.
Ted Pitts, chief executive officer of the state chamber of commerce, said in an interview last month that his group is looking to cut the red tape that makes obtaining business licenses a "cumbersome process."
"Though we would love to pay less in taxes or business licensing, we are not calling for a big tax cut through this," Pitts said. "We just want to standardize the process."
To make up for lost revenue that would result from Sandifer's bill, Greer would have to raise its business license fees by 167 percent, said David Seifert, the city's finance director.
The projected $1.5 million loss in Anderson would account for 6 percent of the city's general fund budget.
"That is a lot of money," city Councilman Matt Harbin said, and would create a significant strain on city services.
Harbin also is president of the Anderson County Municipal Association. He said Sandifer's bill is causing concern in towns and cities throughout the county.
"It is something we take very seriously," he said.
Honea Path Mayor Earl Lollis Meyers said business licenses are an important part of his town's budget. Any significant loss of revenue from these licenses would likely lead to cuts at the town's police department, he said.
"I wish they would keep their hands out of our business," Meyers said.
Ron Barnett of the Greenville News contributed to this report.
Follow Kirk Brown and Eric Conner on Twitter @KirkBrown_AIM and @cericconner
February 21, 2017
Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach City Council discusses business license reform, sports tourism, flood resilience
WMBF News; www.wmbfnews.com
By Amy Lipman, Reporter
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - City leaders in Myrtle Beach said business license reform going on in Columbia could be detrimental to the city and end up costing taxpayers more money.
House bills H3650 and H3651 in the Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee of the General Assembly were a major topic of discussion at the city council's workshop Tuesday morning because leaders worry they could lose money from the changes those bills would require for charging for business licenses.
Right now, the city of Myrtle Beach charges a fee specifically for businesses that are located outside of the city limits, but do business within the city.
That includes landscaping, plumbing and electrician services, because they still use city services but don’t pay all of the taxes businesses within the city do.
Myrtle Beach City Manager John Pedersen said a bill changes the city’s ability to do that and also makes it so those businesses pay a fee based on 75 percent of the revenue they make in the city, while businesses in the city still have to pay taxes on 100 percent of their revenues.
He said that loss alone is projected at more than $2.5 million.
Other proposed changes to the system would cost the city even more money, such as the timeline for collecting the business licensing fees by scheduling collections for the end of the year instead of the beginning. This could cause a year-long gap for Myrtle Beach in collecting this revenue.
The city manager said there would be only three ways to make up for the losses the bill could cause.
“Reduce services to its residents or it could raise business licenses to those that are still in the city which is, as we discussed earlier, an inequity or we can raise property taxes to help cover it," Pedersen said. "So everyone in the city has a stake in this decision.”
Pedersen added the bill proposes a $100 first business license fee, which would be the same for both small and large businesses. He added the city has supported business license reform in the past, but this set of bills has radical changes.
The city plans to let the General Assembly know its thoughts and how this could be harmful to city operations and taxpayers.
Brad Dean, president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, told council these proposed changes are a bad idea for South Carolina and it's a horrendous idea for Myrtle Beach and Horry County.
In other business on Tuesday, the assistant city manager presented information on the economic benefit of sports tourism.
Back in 2013, sports tourism had a direct spending impact of more than $127 million. Three years later, in 2016, that was up nearly 50 percent to more than $185 million.
Spending increased every year since 2013 as well, including a 12 percent jump from 2015 to 2016.
Sports tourism isn’t currently self-sufficient for Myrtle Beach because what people are paying the city directly to play sports isn’t fully making up for what the city is paying to provide the services.
However, Pedersen said the industry is getting closer to being self-sufficient because the city changed its fee structure last year.
“We probably make two or three times what it costs us to provide that service in terms of impact on things we don’t get directly from that provider, like business license fees, hospitality fees, accommodations taxes and the tourism development fee,” he said.
Finally, the city of Myrtle Beach is also looking to identify and improve vulnerable infrastructure for the next major storm.
Myrtle Beach was one of only five communities to be chosen to receive a technical assistance grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency to increase resilience for future floods. Approximately 70 applications were submitted.
The grant covers the cost of a consultant to hold workshops, gather information and come up with strategic plans for the future to improve how the city's infrastructure handles flooding.
“This whole study was designed to help us recover from those as quickly as possible,” Pedersen said. “One of the side benefits is we may be able to go through this process and identify some ways to improve our ratings to save our constituents more on their insurance.”
A community workshop to share ideas and information about being more resilient from flooding will be on March 15 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Myrtle Beach Train Depot. Residents, neighborhood leaders, developers and others are invited to attend.
A six-hour meeting is scheduled for the day after for city leaders and staff members to talk about what was discussed at the community meeting.
February 16, 2017
Waitsburg considers waiving business license fees
WAITSBURG — The City Council on Tuesday, in an effort to spur business growth, will consider waiving licensing fees for the next year for new businesses.
Waitsburg’s current city code requires new businesses to register with the city and pay a $50 fee. A resolution before City Council would temporarily remove the fee requirement until Feb. 6 of next year.
For a business to be considered “new” under this proposed waiver, it must have not operated within the city in the last 12 months.
New businesses would still have to register with the city and pay any other fees associated with their operational activities, and annual renewal fees would remain in effect for existing businesses.
February 13, 2017
Etowah County, AL
Fines, jail time possible without county business license
The Gadsden Times; www.gadsdentimes.com
By Benjamin Nunnally | Times Staff Writer
Etowah County business owners can face serious consequences for not purchasing their business licenses on time, including fines and possible jail time.
County Commission Chief Financial Officer Kevin Dollar announced the new enforcement measures Tuesday morning at the commission's work session.
"If someone has not purchased a business license, they can be fined for the amount of that license, but also they could be subject to six months in jail," said Dollar, who noted that those measures, taken in conjunction with the district attorney's office, are a last resort.
"We don't want to go to that extreme unless we've exhausted all of our resources to try to collect that," he said.
Business licenses in Etowah County must be purchased in October, and are good through the year until the end of September. Businesses that haven't purchased their annual license by November become delinquent, and receive citations that include a 15 percent penalty on the cost of the license and an increase in interest every month as determined by the state.
Deputy License Inspector Connie Arnold manages the citation process, sending notices and, in extreme cases, visiting the business sites themselves to try and collect payment. Usually, these methods are enough.
"A lot of times these folks say, 'I just strictly forgot,' and a lot of them will come in and pay," said Arnold.
Occasionally, a business owner will ask: "What are you going to do about it?" Now, Dollar has an answer.
"If it's still not collected, we'll send a registered letter notifying them that they need to purchase that business license, or our next step is to turn it over to the district attorney's office," said Dollar.
District Attorney Jody Willoughby said his office will handle cases like any other statutory violation, with their focus on prosecuting.
"Any type of sentence that may be imposed will be completely up to the court," said Willoughby, unless another disposition is reached between the involved parties.
Commission staff is still determining how long an account can be held delinquent before being passed to the district attorney's office for legal action. They've always had the option of turning businesses operating without a license over for prosecution, according to Dollar, but have not done so in the past.
Etowah County has about 5,000 active business licenses, according to Accounts Manager Belinda Childress. The commission has seen a little more than 300 delinquent accounts this year.
"If we have to pursue to that level we will do it," Dollar said, "but we're pro-business and want to have a business-friendly county. It's a matter of last resort."
Business license payments are collected by the Etowah County Probate Office, which also issues the licenses.
Call Arnold at 256-547-4612 for more information or to arrange a payment.
February 8, 2017
Barren County, KY
First new package liquor license issued in Barren County
Glasgow Daily Times; www.glasgowdailytimes.com
By Melina J. Overstreet | email@example.com
GLASGOW – All of the first 11 businesses since the Sept. 27 vote for legal countywide alcohol sales that applied to sell package liquor in Barren County are expected to get their licenses once they meet the final inspection and other requirements, according to notices local alcoholic beverage administrators received from state ABC officials Wednesday.
Nine of those were within the city of Glasgow, but only one, Rite Aid No. 4006 on Happy Valley Road at U.S. 31-E in Glasgow, had its space completely ready to go and had its actual licenses issued from both the Kentucky Department for Alcoholic Beverage Control and the City of Glasgow on Wednesday, said city ABC administrator Brandon Kerney.
The others are in various stages of renovations or construction, so the letters they were sent from Kentucky ABC said things like their application is approved, but the license won't be issued until a completed field report and final inspections are received or that if they don't have all their construction finished by May 31, they will have to submit a written explanation with anticipated completion date to apply for an extension, Kerney said.
In all cases, the business receiving a license cannot transfer it to another person or business for at least three years and would have to relinquish it if the business fails or elects to stop selling liquor, for example. If they had an email address listed on their application and have checked that Wednesday, he said, they should have received a message from the state ABC office already and be aware of the initial approval; otherwise they'll learn when they receive the notice in postal mail.
Kerney said he sent out his own letter Wednesday advising applicants that when their spaces are ready, they need to make appointments for their final local building and fire inspections.
With Rite Aid, Kerney said, “it's just a matter of them getting their inventory in.” He said he had spoken with a corporate representative who told him the hope was to have it there within a week.
Kerney said he thought two others, both owned by parent company Glasgow Liquors, were probably relatively close to being ready. One store, at 105 Park Ave., has the same name as the parent, and the other is Glasgow Wine & Spirits at Ford Centre, 199 N. L. Rogers Wells Blvd.
Several are making significant renovations, and some of those were waiting to see whether they got the license before investing the money for the actual work, he said. One store, Fire Pit Spirits, 1100 Happy Valley Road, is being built from scratch.
The other applicants in the city are Jolita's Liquors, 618 Columbia Ave.; Columbia Liquor Store, 103 Park Ave., DV's Liquors, 1621 Cleveland Ave.; Stallion Liquor & Wine, 102 Cherry St.; and Walmart No. 771, 2345 Happy Valley Road, Suite A.
Another business, Triple Star, has applied to sell package liquor in the city, that that application came just a few days ago, so the 30-day period that has to be allowed for a letter of protest to be filed before the state considers it hasn't even passed yet.
Only two of the three businesses that advertised intent to apply for package liquor licenses in the unincorporated portions of the county in the initial round actually submitted applications, and they were also included in this round of initial approvals, said Sherry Jones, fiscal court clerk. Both of their letters give them the May 31 deadline that some of the in-city stores got, she said.
Those two are Barren River Beverages, 1668 Burkesville Road, and Lake Way Liquor, Building 1, 4363 Scottsville Road.
Another business in the Hiseville area more recently advertised intent to apply, but it hasn't yet, Jones said.
Based on its population, Barren County as a whole is allowed to have no more than 18 retail package liquor licenses, and two were already in operation in Cave City, where it's been legal since 2014.
All of the businesses that applied for licenses to sell package liquor – sometimes worded as “distilled spirits and wine” – also were applying to sell package malt beverages, but there is no quota or limit for the number of stores selling the latter, and several locations are selling or plan to sell only package malt beverages – primarily beer but also wine coolers and similar beverages.
Restaurants of a certain size and meeting other requirements have been able to sell liquor, along with malt beverages, by the drink, for a few years now in Cave City and Glasgow, but now the county also is allowed a quota of 17 establishments that sell by the drink without meeting those restaurant requirements.
Only one business has applied for one of those quota licenses: The Cavern in downtown Cave City.
Jennifer Freeman, that city's ABC administrator, said she has not received any notice from the state on the status of that application, but through her conversations with the owner, Tim Brown, and sometimes conversations on speaker with him in her office and a state ABC official on the phone, it is her understanding that his applications for liquor and malt beverages by the drink had needed some minor revisions or additional pieces of information but were on course to be approved soon. She said Brown is hoping to be open for business by around Valentine's Day.
Brown has told the Glasgow Daily Times he intends to give his establishment – a cafe in one of its past lives – a neighborhood pub atmosphere.
Two other places in the unincorporated portions of the county have advertised intent to apply for licenses to have alcohol by the drink, but they fall into other categories without a quota. One is Barren River Lake State Resort Park and the other is the Edwin P. Barlow Post No. 5906 Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, doing business as VFW Post No. 5906.
February 6, 2017
Wyoming Would See More Liquor Licenses Under Senate Proposal
By Nick Learned
Four state senators and two representatives are behind a bill that would allow more liquor licenses to be issued in smaller cities and towns across Wyoming.
Senate File 155 deals specifically with bar and grill liquor licenses as authorized under Wyoming Statute 12-4-413.
The proposal would change the population formula establishing how many permits can be issued in incorporated cities or towns of a certain size.
Here’s the current formula:
-Up to two licenses in incorporated cities or towns of 7,500 people or fewer;
-Up to three licenses in incorporated cities with populations between 7,501 and 15,000;
-Up to four licenses in incorporated cities with populations between 15,001 and 27,500;
-Up to one additional license for each additional 7,500 people in incorporated cities with populations over 27,500.
Under Senate File 155, the formula would look like this beginning July 1:
-Up to two licenses in incorporated cities or towns of 4,000 people or fewer;
-Up to five licenses in incorporated cities with populations between 4,001 and 12,000;
-Up to six licenses in incorporated cities with populations between 12,001 and 24,000;
-Up to two additional licenses for each additional 4,000 people in incorporated cities with populations over 24,000.
The proposal was assigned a bill number on Tuesday.
No fiscal or personnel impact is noted in the measure’s fiscal note.
Senate File 155 is sponsored by Sen. Bruce Burns (R-Sheridan), Sen. Dave Kinskey (R-Sheridan), Sen. Bill Landen (R-Casper), Sen. Michael Von Flatern (R-Gillette), Rep. Michael K. Madden (R-Buffalo) and Rep. Tom Walters (R-Casper).
January 26, 2017
New, expanded business license applications in Hazleton cause uproar
By Geri Gibbons
firstname.lastname@example.org - @TLGGibbons - 570-991-6117
HAZLETON —A revised application for business licenses has council members, business owners and Mayor Jeff Cusat embroiled in a controversy involving privacy, necessity and safety.
The new application, made available to council members last week and scheduled to be sent to local businesses in the next few days, was recrafted by Cusat and his administration in an attempt, he said, to reduce business fraud.
Councilman David Sosar disagrees with requesting what he believes is an unnecssary amount of information from business owners, including social security numbers, banks used for business accounts, names of accountants and utility information.
“We’ve all been getting a lot of calls from residents who are business owners,” said Sosar. “They don’t want to provide such a great deal of information; they think it’s intrusive.”
Melody Fuller, owner Hair of the Dog and Jagger’s Doggy Deli dog services, credited Cusat and Police Chief Jerry Speziale with successfully addressing crime during the last year, but she said she doesn’t trust the city with her information.
Fuller, who has been in business on East Broad Street for over 25 years, said city officials historically have not adequately addressed problems ranging from crime to parking to economic development.
“At this point,” she said, “if the government couldn’t address those types of problems, I will not trust them with my personal information. I’m not asking for a line of credit or anything.”
Fuller said she feels so adamantly about the issue that, should she be required to complete the form in its entirety, she would move her business out of Hazleton.
“I have other locations (to choose from),” she said. “I don’t want to leave Hazleton, but I will if I feel that I have to.”
Other business owners posted comments opposing the new forms on Cusat’s Facebook page but declined comment for this story.
Cusat said he intends to go “door-to-door” to businesses that do not return the completed form to the city, and should they refuse to comply with it, will require them to shut down.
Cusat sites such infractions as failure to pay municipal taxes, cash-only businesses and being fronts for criminal activity as reasons for the additional questions on the two-page application.
“Just ask the police department,” he said. “Illegal businesses are the source of a lot of drug activity and violence.”
Fuller, though, said she believes there should be a better way for the city to address fraudulent businesses.
“I could spot fraudulent businesses myself, without any form,” she said. “Long-term businesses will be penalized. Requiring the form could negatively impact businesses.”
Pointing out empty storefronts in downtown Hazleton, Fuller said, “We cannot afford to lose any more businesses.”
Councilwoman Grace Cuozzo said, “They’re crazy if they think the fraudulent businesses are going to fill out the form. And, we don’t have the money to investigate business by business. Some of that investigation should be left to the IRS or the health department.”
For now, Cusat said he will continue to mail out the business licensing forms and to require that they be fully completed.
“If someone has a problem with providing specific information, they are welcome to come in and talk about it,” he said. “But the forms need to be completed and returned.”
Reach Geri Gibbons at 570-991-6117 or on Twitter @TLGGibbons.
January 19, 2017
Cobb cites YouTube star in business license case
By Doug Richards, WXIA
MARIETTA, GA -- A YouTube star and Cobb County are at odds over the star's business location. The county has cited Justin Chandler for running a business out of a residence. His business is playing video games and putting it on YouTube.
In late October, a video appeared on YouTube showing off the new Atlanta home of a group called Team Kaliber. Team Kaliber uploads video of its members playing a video game called Call of Duty.
It’s part of an emerging video trend where gamers show themselves playing video games. Some get hundreds of thousands of YouTube viewers – with moneymaking potential in clicks and ads and swag sold on the Team Kaliber store.
"I also make gaming videos and all kinds of videos that I film in my home right here in Atlanta, and I upload 'em to YouTube, in this house I live in with a bunch of my friends who do the exact same thing," Chandler says in a Youtube video.
On Jan. 10, a Cobb County code enforcement officer cited Justin Chandler for illegally running a business out of his house, saying that the “videos he makes for income can be considered business activity” made with business equipment.
Chandler argues otherwise – in a video he posted to YouTube. "This extremely unique and rare scenario poses the question: [Does] filming and uploading YouTube videos from your home constitute the home as a business?” he asks. “Does it matter how many views I have or how much income I make from it? Because to be honest, I do the same thing millions of other Americans do.”
Chandler declined comment when contacted by 11Alive News.
Legal analyst Phil Holloway says it’s about whether it’s a commercial enterprise operating in a residential area.
"There's nothing wrong or illegal with simply monetizing a YouTube account," said 11Alive legal analyst Phil Holloway. "But when you take it to the level of making it a business enterprise which they’ve apparently allegedly held themselves out to be, that’s where it can become a problem and in violation of the code."
Cobb County also cited the home for having too many unrelated adults occupying a single family home. Cobb officials say Chandler subsequently applied for a business license. He hasn't been penalized, but Cobb officials have asked him to apply for a land use permit to avoid any further trouble.
(© 2017 WXIA)
January 17, 2017
Horry County, SC
Horry County leaders change business license law to cut out ‘problem businesses’
WBTW News 13; www.wbtw.com
By Taylor Herlong
CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – In an effort to cut out “problem businesses” in Horry County, council leaders passed the third and final reading of an ordinance Tuesday that will change the way businesses apply for a business license.
Now, new businesses will have to complete a detailed application that identifies everyone involved in the business.
They’ll also have to identify who will be operating the business, give any criminal or nuisance history, and businesses serving alcohol after midnight will have to complete a safety plan.
In October, the county’s attorney said more than two dozen businesses have been closed in Horry County since 2003 as a result of court enforced nuisance actions prosecuted by the solicitor’s office.
County leaders say that’s a costly project for the businesses to re-open just a year later.
Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus says they’re hoping this will help cut down on violence in the county.
“It’s all about safety, creating safety in these late night establishments to help our police officers know who we’re dealing with, what we’re dealing with, and what they’re operation is going to be. We felt this was a better resolve than curtailing the hours that they would operate,” said Lazarus.
Lazarus says this application process is for any new business coming to the county. Existing businesses are not required to submit a safety plan unless they become problems for police.
January 11, 2017
Los Angeles, CA
New law allows free booze in California beauty salons
By Chelsea Edwards
STUDIO CITY, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A law has gone into effect in California that allows beauty salons to serve alcohol without getting a liquor license, and those drinks are free.
As of Jan. 1, AB1322, also known as the "Drybar bill," was officially in effect after being signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2016.
The law allows salons and barber shops to serve free beer and wine without a license, as long as the drinker is of age and getting a beauty service.
A popular high-end salon chain, Drybar, was the driving force behind the bill. Its founder, Alli Webb, said they've been offering free drinks to customers since the business first started seven years ago.
"That was something women were talking about - why they loved Drybar - they loved getting their hair done, they love the confidence they had when they went out the door, but they also love having a glass of wine while sitting here," Webb explained.
The new law does not mean bottomless booze for your beauty treatments. It mandates that salons can only serve 6 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer per customer. The drinks also have to be free and have to be served before 10 p.m.
Getting the bill passed did come with opposition from alcohol industry watchdog groups and others concerned about the lack of regulation.
But many customers seemed enthusiastically on board.
"To be honest, if I'm about to go out and I'm doing my hair at home, I have a glass of wine while I'm getting ready," said Drybar client Missy Fitzharris. "It makes me feel like I'm home."
January 9, 2017
E-cigarette sellers now need state license
The Modesto Bee; www.modbee.com
Stanislaus County health officials lauded state legislation that went into effect Monday that requires sellers of electronic cigarettes, vaping devices and other related products to pay a $265 annual licensing fee.
Gov. Jerry Brown on May 4 signed into law state Senate Bill No. 5 and Assembly Bill No. 11, requiring that e-cigarettes be regulated the same as other tobacco products. The licensing fee is required for each location selling tobacco products.
The state laws echo a Riverbank city ordinance enacted in 2015 that requires tobacco retailers to obtain an annual license from the city. This license aims to prevent uncontrolled sales of tobacco and e-cigarette products and prohibits tobacco sales within 500 feet of any school or playground.
The new state laws ban the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone younger than 21, because many youths have had access to the products. The California Department of Public Health’s state health officer noted that e-cigarette use among people ages 18 to 29 tripled in 2014. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than a quarter of a million youths who had never smoked a cigarette used e-cigarettes in 2013.
In Modesto, Riverbank and Hughson, those cities have amended their definition of smoking to include e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine devices, applying all smoking laws to those products.
The Department of Public Health reports that e-cigarette aerosol contains at least 10 chemicals on California’s list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.
According to the state Board of Equalization, products requiring licensing include:
▪ Any product containing, made or derived from nicotine
▪ Any electronic smoking or vaping device that delivers nicotine or other vaporized liquids to the person inhaling from the device
▪ Any component, part or accessory, even if it is sold separately
For more information on new state tobacco laws, visit tobaccofreeca.com.
January 3, 2017
Standard business licenses statewide?
The State; www.thestate.com
By Clif LeBlanc | email@example.com
COLUMBIA, SC - In what business advocates say would be a giant leap forward, Columbia and other municipalities in South Carolina are eyeing a single, mandated way of issuing business licenses.
Businesses large and small complain that nearly each of South Carolina’s 270 cities and towns – and a few counties – use differing classifications, due dates, government forms and rates to issue licenses that allow them to operate in municipalities, according to advocates for a statewide, uniform law.
“It’s one of the most business unfriendly things we do,” said Ted Pitts, the director of the S.C. Chamber of Commerce, which backs one business licensing law across the state.
The mishmash of local laws cost the state an estimated $300 million in 2013, said Melissa Carter, lobbyist for the Municipal Association of South Carolina, citing a legislative fiscal impact assessment.
Business licenses are important sources of income for cities and towns. In Columbia, for example, City Hall collected $11.1 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30 from 9,738 businesses. City budget officials project the figure will reach $11.5 million during the year that ends next June.
For Richland County, among a handful of counties that require business licenses, the comparable-year figures are $6.6 million and $7 million, according to Richland’s chief financial officer. The county adopted a licensing law in 2006 that is similar to what’s being considered statewide.
Jeff Palen is Columbia’s chief financial officer. He and other city staffers have been working with the municipal association toward a statewide system.
“In general, we support the whole idea,” Palen said. “It helps the (business) customer.”
Business licenses are more than revenue generators. They also are a means of tracking the kinds of businesses that open their doors and serve as a way to monitor code enforcement.
Lexington County doesn’t require a license. In 2000, Tin Products in Red Bank spilled toxic chemicals that killed fish, poisoned wells, damaged Cayce’s water plant and forced rate increases for some 12,000 Cayce customers to cover repair costs. All told, the contamination affected nearly a quarter of 209,000 residents Lexington County had at the time.
County officials didn’t know Tin Products was operating or violating pollution laws, in part because the plant was not licensed by the county.
Business leaders, municipal officials and legislators have been talking for five years in an attempt to write a uniform licensing law that is customer friendly and satisfies competing interests.
Some are optimistic that might happen in the legislative session that begins in January. Others are skeptical that a solution is close.
“There is no agreement among stakeholders about what exactly needs to be done,” the chamber’s Pitts said. “But there is agreement that something has to be done.”
The Municipal Association’s Carter is more optimistic that a consensus is close. “I will tell you, cities are completely on board,” she said.
A bill has not been written yet, but advocates are hopeful they have a champion in Rep. Bill Sandifer, a Republican from Oconee County and a committee chairman.
Scott Slatton, the association’s field director, sees the chances of a law this way: “There is enough agreement between the parties that something is going to get done.”
Key elements of a standardized law
The bottom line, he said, is “to take the hassle factor out” of getting licenses.
The key components of any standardized business license law include:
▪ One due date for all businesses
▪ One application for all
▪ An agreed upon definition of gross income, which is how license tax is calculated.
▪ Substantially shrinking the number of business classifications – perhaps to eight – to make it easier to determine the kinds of licenses needed. Columbia has 139 of them.
▪ Create a centralized computer-driven system where companies to submit applications to do work anywhere they chose in the state. The software would use companies’ protected financial information to calculate how much businesses would pay each city.
▪ Cities and towns could not get a revenue windfall the first year the new system goes live.
The association wants to become the clearinghouse for the computer system through a third-party vendor. The chamber suggests the S.C. Secretary of State’s office.
“Cities are adamantly opposed” to state agencies running the clearinghouse, which advocates are calling the “portal,” Slatton said. Who would run the portal is a key sticking point.
Jim Hester owns a commercial drywall business that operates in the Carolinas and Georgia and has annual revenues the said amount to between $20 million and $30 million.
Hester said he had not heard of the push for a standardized system until a reporter called. But he said he’s open to a simplified way of getting licenses – and a clearinghouse doesn’t bother him.
“I wouldn’t have any anxiety about uploading that information,” Hester said.
“I’m pulling licenses all over the state,” he said. “I’m paying all these license fees, and some are high and some are low. I don’t mind paying my fair share.”
Rock Hill’s experience
A version of what the Municipal Association considers a “model law” was adopted in Rock Hill in 2009.
That city’s chief financial officer, Anne Harty, said city officials did a lot of advance work and adjusted rates so that businesses overall were not hit hard.
“In our transition, we made it relatively invisible,” she said, adding she cannot recall a single complaint from any business owner.
In the years since its adoption, lawyers, doctors and accountants have seen the cost of their license dip because their profit margins aren’t as large. Technology firms, however, have been paying more, Harty said.
Some licenses cost more because businesses have grown, which raises their gross incomes and, in turn, what they pay for a license.
The chamber’s Pitts captured the conflict facing city and business leaders. “All businesses would like to pay less in taxes,” he said. “But you’re not going to get local government to agree with that.”
December 27, 2016
Glenview businesses will no longer have to renew business licenses each year beginning in January
Chicago Tribune; www.chicagotribune.com
By Alexandra Kukulka
Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, Glenview businesses will no longer be required to annually renew their business licenses, though restaurants will have to pay an annual health inspection fee and first-time business license fees will increase.
The village's Board of Trustees voted 6-0 in November to eliminate the annual license renewal fee for both businesses and restaurants, which cost $35 and $40 respectively, according to Joe Kenney, the village's director of development.
Officials decided to get rid of the license renewal fee because the process of filling out applications, collecting money and following up with business owners who missed the deadline was time-consuming for village staff, Kenney said.
Each year, the village would mail out more than 1,400 notices for license renewals, and about 30 percent of business owners did not fill out the online application and pay the fee on time, Kenney said. If an owner didn't meet the deadline, village staff would then have to send letters to those businesses and call or even meet with the owners, he said.
"It was really a nuisance for the businesses and a burden for village staff to collect the renewal every year," Kenney said. "It was a very small fee to chase folks around for."
However, fire and health inspections will still be completed annually, which will help the village verify the validity of a business' license, he said.
Eliminating the license renewal fee will result in an estimated $44,000 loss in revenue to the village, Kenney said. But in a separate ordinance, which the board also approved in a 6-0 vote the same night, the board agreed to increase the first-time business license fee to $45 for businesses and $95 for restaurants, along with an annual $95 annual health inspection for restaurants to help "off-set costs of health inspections," he said.
December 21, 2016
City considers requiring a general business license
Idaho State Journal; www.idahostatejournal.com
By Debbie Bryce For the Journal
POCATELLO — Pocatello City Council members heard the pros and the cons about implementing general business licensing throughout the city at a study session Thursday.
Following the discussion, council directed city staff to work up a draft ordinance and reach out to area businesses, providing education on the benefits and drawbacks of business licensing. According to city planner Terri Neu, public hearings on the matter are still at least one year away. If approved in future council meetings, implementation would be at least two years down the road.
Both Neu and Pocatello Fire Department Chief David Gates estimate that about 3,000 to 3,500 businesses operate within city limits.
“But that’s the hard part — without requiring a (city) business license, we really don’t know for sure,” Gates said.
Currently, businesses such as daycare facilities, alcohol sellers and taxi operators need a city license, but there is no requirement or procedure for general business licenses.
Neu told members of the Pocatello City Council during a study session Thursday that the city and the fire department are not always aware of when new businesses open.
Neu said currently the city relies on utility records and building permits to track new businesses, making it difficult to conduct fire inspections to ensure codes and regulations are met and that the business is safe. Gates added that they often simply drive along Pocatello’s main roads to see if anything looks new.
Gates told the council that general business licensing would provide new business owners with a packet of information about the city’s code and all required equipment for that business. The fee proposed by city of Pocatello is $50 annually.
Gates said one new business in the city was forced to close its doors after investing their life-savings because required safety equipment was not installed at the business.
Neu told the Journal last month that fly-by-night business practices in Pocatello were a catalyst to get this discussion rolling as well as input from the police and fire department.
Throughout October and November, Neu conducted a survey of 100 Pocatello businesses. The majority of the businesses claimed one to five employees and an operating budget $100,000 or less annually. Most had been in operation for more 10 years or more.
Only about 36 percent of those businesses that responded to the survey supported licensing.
Neu said licensing would provide validation for businesses and up to date key holder information for the fire and police departments.
She said licensing would also facilitate more efficient water pollution control because the city would know what businesses are discharging into the sewer.
“If we violate that (federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit) it’s thousands of dollars per day that the city has to pay,” Neu said. “Due to our location, the EPA monitors us pretty closely.”
Churches and nonprofit groups would also be required to buy a business license under the new plan.
City Councilman Jim Johnston said he opposed any new restriction on businesses and was opposed to licensing churches, but he said he is also concerned about health and safety.
Councilwoman Heidi Adamson agreed and said she feared that local businesses would see it as another tax on their businesses.
Johnston said he would like to see discussions held with local commerce groups before it moves forward — a step that Neu promised to take following the meeting.
Mike Vigliaturo, owner of Pocatello Electric in Old Town, said he doesn’t see a need for general business licensing in the city.
Vigliaturo has owned the business since 1989 and he bought the store from his father, Al Vigliaturo, who became the sole owner in 1973.
Mike said his business is inspected twice a year by the Pocatello Fire Department to ensure that the building meets city code and that the public is not at risk.
The city is just looking to generate revenue,” Mike said.
Ed Snell, owner of Ed Snell Pharmacy in Pocatello wants to know what he’ll get for his $50.
“Are they expecting to generate revenue or are they providing some kind of service for this $50 annual fee?” Snell said.
Snell said his pharmacy is already inspected and licensed by the state, Medicare and Medicaid, and the fire department conducts regular inspections at the store.
He also opposes implementation of business licenses and believes it’s unnecessary.
For comparison, Chubbuck implemented business licensing around 1953 and about 768 Chubbuck businesses currently hold a city license. The general license fee $25 per year in Chubbuck.
December 14, 2016
Business licenses for private schools? Council must decide
Montgomery Advertiser; www.montgomeryadvertiser.com
By Andrew J. Yawn, Montgomery Advertiser
Are private schools businesses? If so, should they be required to purchase business licenses?
That is the issue facing Montgomery City Council ahead of its next meeting after a private company hired by the city to inspect businesses found something surprising: Montgomery private schools are technically required to purchase business licenses under city law. Most of them just haven't.
“We engaged a firm to come in and take a look at all our city licenses and try to find people operating outside of our ordinances, and this is one thing they picked up on, and it’s an unintended thing really,” said city Finance Director Barry Crabb at the council work session Tuesday. “We had some inconsistencies. We had one or two that were actually paying. We had 25 that were not.”
Crabb said it was not a purposeful action by either party. Private schools didn't know they had to buy annual licenses and the city didn't know it wasn't enforcing a law.
Chapter 16, Article III, Section 74-6b provides a business license exemption to “schools operated by city, county, state, churches, and qualifying non-profit organizations.”
Somehow private schools slipped through the legal cracks. The city now has to choose between enforcing the law or providing private schools an exemption. While the city has not been actively enforcing the law in the past, the law cannot be ignored now that it is known.
“When we started sending out invoices to try to get business licenses for some private schools, they started calling some of the council about why we’re trying to collect business licenses from schools,” Crabb said.
District 7 Councilman Arch Lee proposed the ordinance discussed Tuesday that would amend the code and provide an exemption for private schools grades K-12.
The original proposal would have made all schools exempt, but as Crabb said, there are some schools the city doesn’t want to exempt.
“For instance, for-profit truck driving schools and cooking schools. They require licenses,” Crabb said.
Lee was not present for the council meeting Tuesday, therefore Council President Charles Jinright tabled the issue until the next council meeting. That did not prevent council members from discussing the issue.
District 6 Councilman Fred Bell, a lawyer, asked Crabb what would stop a day care from taking advantage of the exemption.
“I’m not against it, but I don’t want some smart lawyer coming in and having a day care and calling it a private school,” Bell said. “If there’s an exemption, I’m not going to call it a day care. I’ll call it the Fred Bell Private School.”
That led to a discussion of whether or not day cares should be exempt, considering private schools make considerably more in revenue than day cares. Crabb responded that the impact of only exempting private schools would be less because the city does not currently account for that money.
“It’s not going to be a significant impact to exempt (private schools),” Crabb said. “We’ve got quite a few day cares. We don’t have a lot of day cares taking in the kind of money as a St. James or Trinity. Those are $8 million-$10 million revenue a year and would generate $8,000-$10,000 a year licenses. We’ve got quite a few day cares smaller, but they are paying the fee. To exempt them would be a different situation.”
Before the next meeting, Crabb, the council members and Mayor Todd Strange will evaluate what other Alabama metropolitan areas do in regards to private schools and day cares. Ultimately it will be the council’s decision of who — if anybody — to exempt.
December 12, 2016
St. Charles, IL
St. Charles approves property tax levy, issues massage business licenses
Kane County Chronicle; www.m.kcchronicle.com
By Martha Quetsch - firstname.lastname@example.org
The St. Charles City Council on Dec. 5 approved a $20 million proposed tax levy for 2016. The sum represents the total estimated city taxes for property owners next spring.
The city will submit its proposed levy to the county this month. The amount is consistent with 2015 city property taxes.
Before issuing property tax bills in the spring, the county will determine St. Charles' final property tax total based on actual 2016 new property growth. If the city's estimate of property growth is correct, the city property tax rate will decline from 99 to 88 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation – or EAV, said Chris Minnick, city finance director.
At $1.37 billion, the city's 2016 EAV estimate of property in St. Charles is slightly higher than the $1.32 billion actually assessed for 2015.
The city portion of property taxes is about 9.6 percent of the total county tax bills. The greatest portion of property taxes is for public schools.
New massage business licenses
Also during the Dec. 5 meeting, the city council approved two new massage establishment licenses. One was for Summer Spa, to be located at 1550 E. Main St., and the other was for Mixology Spa, an existing business at 116 W. Main St.
Fourth Ward Alderman Jo Krieger voted against issuing the licenses.
“We've had too many problems in the past. I'm opposed to it,” Krieger said.
Krieger noted massage license violations earlier this year in St. Charles and an alleged violation Dec. 1 at a Batavia massage business. The Batavia incident led to a prostitution arrest.
The St. Charles City Council next meets at 7 p.m. Dec. 19.
December 7, 2016
The Department of Revenue Encourages Delaware Businesses to Renew Your Business License Online Now
The Division of Revenue would like to remind business owners with licenses expiring at the end of December that the most convenient way to renew your business license is by visiting revenue.delaware.gov, and renewing online. Any business whose Delaware business license expires December 31, 2016 may opt to renew online using a credit card, debit card, or via direct debit from your bank account. This convenient online service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Last year, over 65% of business owners used the online renewal service. Renewing a State of Delaware business license online is not only convenient, but it allows the taxpayer to print a temporary license directly from their computer – a benefit for any business requiring proof of a current license, such as contractors and businesses receiving government payments.
“Renewing a business license online is fast and secure,” says Division of Revenue Director Patrick Carter, “the online business license system is a tool that makes life easier for hundreds of Delaware businesses.”
To complete the online renewal, businesses will need their Tax ID Number and Business License Number. Business License Numbers can be found on your current license, or on the annual License Renewal Notice mailed to businesses by the Delaware Division of Revenue. Business renewing a license may elect a one or a three-year business license, decreasing future paperwork.
For more information on business licenses, please contact the business license department at (302) 577-8778 or BusTax@state.de.us.
December 1, 2016
Green Bay, WI
The Green Bay City Council is considering banning hard liquor sales at convenience stores
Journal Sentinel; JSOnline
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- The Green Bay City Council is considering banning hard liquor sales at convenience stores.
Another proposal before the council would give city leaders greater authority to revoke liquor licenses.
Scannell doesn't find banning convenience stores from selling liquor is necessary, but he hopes the policy discussion will put an end to arguments for each new license.
Since October, the council has denied three requests by convenience store owners to sell liquor, while approving two others. The owners who didn't get licenses said the decisions put them at a competitive disadvantage.
Alderman Guy Zima is leading the push to limit liquor sales and has promised to vote against any new license requests. He said too many places sell alcohol, and that's impacting the quality of life in city neighborhoods.
"My efforts are to not have any more liquor stores or gas stations or grocery stores that will sell in our neighborhoods," Zima said. "Now, people can get it one way or another, but the easier you make it, the more problems you'll have."
Currently, the Green Bay police are conducting a six-month trial run at increasing enforcements in the downtown area, where most of the alcohol-related complaints occur. After the trial is completed in December the police department will report its findings to the council's protection and welfare committee.
Information from: Press-Gazette Media, http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com
November 30, 2016
Business License Fees & Enforcement Going Up
KITV 4 Island News; www.kitv.com
By Paul Drewes
For many, doing business in Hawaii means getting a professional and vocational license.
The number of licenses has shot up. So have fees so the state can catch up on enforcing our licensing laws.
Serenity and Massage provides a relaxing environment for a rubdown..There are soft sheets, candles and quiet music to add to the tranquility.
But for those wondering if the massage therapist will rub them the wrong way --
They should instead look for a business license on display, along with one for every masseuse.
"I got licensed because I wanted to legitimate and legal, and I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing. If I am going to be working with someone's body, that is a very vulnerable space, and I'm sure they would want me to know what I am doing as well," said Serenity & Massage Manager Laura Anderson.
Massage is just one industry where Hawaii workers have to licensed.
47 other professions and vocations including barbers, real estate agents and veterinarians make up the 150,000 licenses issued annually. Licenses are required to protect the health, safety and welfare of consumers.
What does a license do? In the case of a general contractor, it not only ensures the worker knows how to do the job correctly, it also ensures those who do the hiring are covered when things go wrong.
"The insurance piece is very important. In case someone gets injured on your job site, or if anything goes wrong with the job site, the licensed contractor's insurance will cover any incidents that occur on the property," said Daria Loy-Goto, with the State's Regulated Industries Complaints Office.
Each year, RICO investigators take hundreds of actions against unlicensed workers and those in violation of their license, but recently they've noted a disturbing trend.
"In the past decade, the office has seen an increase in more serious kinds of conduct: theft, diversion of drugs, and improper touching in the healthcare industry," said Loy-Goto.
While the number of cases has been steadily increasing, licensing fees had stayed at the same level for decades. This year, an increase, which raised costs by about 30%, a difference many will notice when it is time to renew.
"it was more than I expected, I have a personal budget. I had $120 set aside for it, but it was more like $146," said Anderson.
The additional money will go toward upgrading the state's on-line computer system and fill 8 positions, including more investigators.
"A field investigator will go out and subpoena records, talk to witnesses, conduct a traditional investigation to determine if there are any licensing law violations. From there the matter may be turned over to a RICO staff attorney," said Loy-Goto.
Now, when it comes to massage licensees, investigators can also issue citations for certain violations on the spot.
"It is going to allow us to cover more ground, with the people we have," said Loy-Goto.
Citations can also help weed out unlicensed workers and illegal prostitution parlors that have become a sore spot for the massage industry.
"As long as we follow the requirements, it shouldn't be a problem for licensed establishments. And they are not that hard," added Anderson.
Next year, legislation may be added to allow investigators to issue immediate citations for cosmetology violations as well.
If you have an issue with licensed businesses or unlicensed workers call the State Office of Consumer Protection.
November 28, 2016
New York, NY
New York - A Desire Named Street Cart: Red Tape Stifles NYC Vendors
New York - With a guy selling pretzels and hot dogs on every other block, Manhattan must seem to tourists like a Shangri-La for street food vendors — a place where any entrepreneur willing to stand in bad weather for long hours can hustle up a living. In reality, though, New York’s food cart business is no picnic.
For decades, the city’s regulatory scheme has made it next to impossible to obtain a new permit to operate a food cart or truck. That’s locked thousands of vendors into a black-market system where they are forced to pay huge amounts to “rent” one of the city’s roughly 4,200 existing permits from do-nothing middlemen. Or else, they can risk hefty fines by operating illegally.
Unable to get a permit of his own, Mohammed Shaheedul Huq, who operates a cart in downtown Brooklyn, paid $18,000 upfront to lease one from a man who pays the city just $200 every two years for the license.
“I have no choice,” said Huq, who was a stockbroker in his native Bangladesh but now rooms in one of Brooklyn’s poorest neighborhoods. “He’s supposed to not sell it to me. I’m supposed to not buy from him. All departments know how it works, but nobody takes any action.”
That could be changing. The New York City Council is looking at adopting legislation that would create 600 new food vendor permits each year for a seven-year period, roughly doubling the number of carts and trucks allowed on the street.
Street vendors and their advocates hail the legislation, which has the support of the City Council’s speaker, as a much-needed change to outdated rules they say have strangled entrepreneurship.
But others, like representatives of the city’s business improvement districts, say there are already too many carts in prime locations as it is now. They want any increase in the number of permits to only follow after systematic enforcement of existing rules.
“If you lift the cap on the number of vendors without doing anything else, it’s not like 600 vendors are going to spread throughout the five boroughs. They’re just going to go where the money is,” said Ellen Baer, co-chair of the NYC BID Association, which represents the city’s 72 business improvement districts.
New York City capped the number of food vending permits at around 4,200 in the early 1980s after similar complaints from brick-and-mortar businesses about clogged sidewalks. Few people lucky enough to have gotten permits in the 1980s have willingly given them up. Instead, they rent them to people like Huq, even though such arrangements are a violation of city rules.
Only a minuscule number of permits become available in any given year, roughly 50, according to the city. A waiting list that was opened in 2007 with 2,500 spots still has about 1,700 people on it.
Thousands more vendors set up shop without any permit, though they run a risk of steep fines.
Delmy Zelaya, who runs a cart on a Queens street, said she might make $60 a day selling obleas, a Colombian snack that has a layer of caramel between two wafers. In the four years she’s been doing it though, she’s already been fined $3,000.
The system of people holding onto their permits and renting them out isn’t fair, Zelaya said, especially for someone like her who’s just trying to make extra income to help cover bills.
“I want to live and breathe,” she said. “I don’t want anybody to stop me.”
The legislation introduced last month would hike the fee for a two-year permit to $1,000 and create a dedicated enforcement unit.
Sean Basinski, director of the Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center, which advocates for vendors, said he favored removing the caps on permits entirely. But he called the bill “a serious and thoughtful and reasonable effort to get at the heart of the problem, which is the lack of opportunity for people.”
November 21, 2016
Smyrna puts heat on local food trucks
Delaware State News; www.delawarestatenews.net
By Ian Gronau
SMYRNA — Clint Johnson’s wife calls him the Woolly Mammoth because his “old school, authentic” style of barbecuing on the roadside is going extinct.
Like many endangered species, Mr. Johnson laments habitat degradation as the cause, but this kind is of an official nature.
“Traditional Southern rib joints that used to be on the side of the gas stations or out in back of the bar are all extinct because of rules and regulations,” he said.
Mr. Johnson is the owner of Oh’ Phoebe’s BBQ & Down Home Deli in Smyrna. It specializes in barbecued and smoked ribs, chicken, pork, sausage and other savory fare.
In addition to the restaurant location on Main Street he operates a food truck parked in the Advance Auto Parts lot on Route 13, Wednesdays through Sundays.
Although feeling settled in Smyrna — his business’s home for the past five years — a recently approved ordinance has him wondering just how comfortable he should get.
Although the new ordinance’s terms seem fairly innocuous to his current business, new regulations hitting the books remind him of “run-ins” he had with Middletown officials.
“At first it was pretty good in Middletown,” he said. “There was no ordinance as long as you had the state license and the town license. You could pretty much go where you wanted to, provided that you had the permission of the land owner.
“One of my competitors thought maybe that I was doing better than him and he didn’t want me anywhere nearby. And maybe he thought that I would open up the floodgates for all these food trucks to come in and put the brick and mortar people out of business — as if we were going to post up right in front of their store.”
As a result, Middletown approved a new ordinance that would require him to plead his case to the zoning board for a $125 fee and then await approval, he said.
After that, he’d have to be heard by the city council, which can often take 30 to 60 days.
“Before, I could just move from place to place the next day as long as I keep my license up and running,” he said. “Because, if I am going to plan out my summer, by the time I get final permission to move around to the different locations, the summer would be gone. That’s why I got out of there.”
After moving into his storefront location in Smyrna he began running into new issues.
“I had trouble with my restaurant smoking up the town, the people up on Main Street in town really didn’t care for that,” he said. “But there is no state rule about open air smoking in Delaware.”
After meeting with the town manager and chief of police, Mr. Johnson decided that it might be better for everyone if he moved his meat smoking operation in his food truck out to Route 13 while keeping his restaurant functioning in town.
“It was kind of a courtesy thing, and it was agreed that if I moved out there I wasn’t going to be bothered anymore,” he said.
The new ordinance, approved on Oct. 14, establishes requirements for mobile food vendors and specifies that mobile food vendors must have at least $100,000 worth of general liability insurance, trash receptacles, can have limited dining areas and are not permitted within 50 feet of restaurants.
It also outlines details surrounding the participation of mobile food vendors in public events and specifies the licensing procedures. It spells out restrictions for mobile food vendors located on public and private property and notes penalties for violation of the ordinance between $150 and $500.
It also explains that mobile food vendors who obtain a license as a mobile food vendor are not required to get a business license.
Smyrna Town Manager David Hugg says the impetus behind the ordinance is to pro-actively outline a policy before an urgent need for one arises.
“Food trucks are obviously something of a trend that’s growing rapidly and we’ve not really had a problem, he said. “But we wanted to get ahead of the curve a bit.
“We’ve been seeing food trucks on a regular basis out at the Blue Earl brewery. They don’t create any issue out there — they’re actually a great addition — but they’re not necessarily out there with a fully legal status. It’s kind of questionable.”
Mr. Johnson feels that although sometimes good intentioned, added regulations have a way of stifling businesses like his.
“I started out in Philly with nothing but a card table and shishkabobs,” he said. “Then I went to a small grill, then the back of my Volvo, then the back of my van and I got a smoker.
“I left Philadelphia because they were always trying to shut everyone down, and it would take too long to get set back up again.
“I’ve worked in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware. So far, Smyrna and Dover pretty much allowed me to go where I wanted as long as I had permission, which has been good.”
Mr. Hugg says the new ordinance won’t exclude anyone who is taking the food truck business seriously and that it’s a good way to monitor commerce taking place in the city limits.
“I want to recognize that it is another commercial activity that will be taking place in town,” he said. “Most of the provisions that are in there, if you’re a legitimate food truck, you already have.
“The day of the guy with a little cart or wagon and some hot dogs is pretty much over. These guys who are in the actual food truck business have pretty expensive rigs — it’s not something you just put together in an afternoon. The retail arena is changing rapidly and we’re trying to be proactive.”
For now, Mr. Johnson is unconcerned: By his reckoning he operates well within all the posted requirements, but he resents duplicated regulatory efforts by the city and state. For instance, he isn’t happy about obtaining a license with the municipality when he already carries one from the state.
“It kind of feels like, food trucks are coming in and they’re thinking: ‘why not make a buck off them?’” he said. “The state issues licenses, why do they have to also?”
Mr. Johnson also thinks the goods and services food trucks like his offer are increasingly in demand, which is more reason to embrace them rather than “roll out red tape.”
“We’re hot. We’re the new trend,” he said. “A lot of people are taking business and their livelihoods into their own hands. We’re breaking out of the stereotypical mass produced food. We’re doing things our way, the traditional way.
“I do things just like you would in the back yard. It’s trend for people who know good food. After 30 or 40 years of seeing McDonald’s everywhere, people are really getting tired of it.
“Now, to see something like what I have on my grill? It’s a breath of fresh air. This chicken has bones.”
Despite the wind at his back, he knows that regulations, should they become too onerous, could chase him out of town as quickly as they have in the past — sending him the way of the Woolly Mammoth.
“I wish I could branch out a bit, but I am treading lightly,” he said. “You never know when you might pull up somewhere and suddenly you wont be welcome. It’s happened to me several times now.
November 16, 2016
Harrisburg council considers higher fee for business licenses
By Christine Vendel | email@example.com
HARRISBURG—For 20 years, business owners have paid $40 for an annual business license to operate in the city of Harrisburg.
That likely will change Jan. 1 as city council members prepare to increase the fee to $50 to adjust for inflation and increasing costs over two decades.
Council members weighed the increase Thursday night at a Community and Economic Development committee meeting. Councilman Jeff Baltimore, who chaired the meeting, said he planned to recommend approval of the measure at the next full legislative session.
"Over the years, there have been numerous increases to the cost of personnel, postage, paper and printing associated with issuing the business privilege and mercantile licenses," the proposed ordinance said.
Council members asked how the fee compared to other jurisdictions, and Mike Hughes, the city's tax enforcement officer, said similar cities such as York and Reading charge $50 while smaller municipalities charge less.
The fee hike would apply to about 5,000 businesses that operate in the city.
Council Vice President Shamaine Daniels asked whether the city could implement a two-tiered fee to cut small businesses a break, especially home-based operations that require other costly licenses. But Hughes said the state's Third Class City Code requires that the fee be equally applied, which means small mom-and-pop shops pay the same annual fee as a large law firms downtown.
The proposed fee increase represents the latest in a series of upward adjustments in fees and trash rates, after decades of neglect, council members said.
Under former Mayor Stephen Reed, the city neglected to raise fees to cover costs, said Councilman Ben Allatt, which helped to exacerbate the city's structural budget deficit.
"It's not sustainable," he said.
In other business, council members considered plans for construction of a 3-story, 20-unit building on a parking lot at 1820 North Fifth Street to house homeless veterans. The lot is next to the building that formerly housed the Hamilton Health Center.
The former health center currently is being renovated by Juanita Edrington Grant, who runs the Christian Recovery Aftercare Ministry for ex-offenders. Her organization, known as CRAM, will work with the TLC Work-Based Training Program, which is building the units for homeless veterans through tax credits.
Construction could begin on the project in the spring, according to architect Steve Funk, who attended Thursday's meeting.
November 10, 2016
Moberly City Council discusses business license regulations
Moberly Monitor-Index; www.moberlymonitor.com
By Alex Lindley, MI Managing Editor
MOBERLY, Mo. — At a Monday night Moberly City Council meeting that was relatively light on the regular agenda, council members and city officials discussed Moberly's business license regulations in a work session.
In reviewing its business license rules, the city of Moberly discovered that gross receipts taxes and license fees are not applied evenly across all Moberly businesses.
Moberly City Counselor Randall Thompson at the meeting reviewed the ways in which the city could proceed.
“It's a very unusual situation for us to find ourselves in,” he said.
Thompson noted that individual business owners who might be taxed when they weren't before if the city decides to apply the gross receipts tax might make the argument that a “new” tax can't be applied without an election to do so.
Thompson went on to say that he has found very little precedent for this, so how to proceed is still up in the air.
“There are 400 and some merchants who by law could be charged that gross receipts tax who we have not charged, and I would imagine that one of them might object,” he said.
Currently, 108 Moberly merchants pay taxes on gross receipts, officials noted at the Monday meeting.
Moberly Mayor Bob Riley suggested bringing the situation to the attention of the attorney general or another state-level body for advice on how to proceed.
Moberly City Manager Brian Crane suggested that interpretation of the code guiding the application of gross receipts taxes and license fees might have varied among some city staff members, leading to the uneven application of the tax and fee.
According to the current definition in the Moberly city code, businesses that gain 55 percent or more of their business from retail sales should pay the gross receipts tax, while businesses that gain less than 55 percent from retail sales pay a license fee.
Crane noted that the system has largely been based on the honor system, with businesses reporting whether they meet the criteria to pay the gross receipts tax.
Council members elected to not move the item forward to the next Moberly City Council meeting, and Crane noted that city staff will continue working on the rules to make them more clear.
In other news during the work session, officials from Safe Passage, a domestic violence shelter and organization in Moberly that hosts the annual Wine Stroll to raise money, spoke to the council about plans for the 2017 Wine Stroll.
Safe Passage Secretary Natalie Meighan noted that the 2016 stroll brought more than 600 people to downtown Moberly. Although planning for the next event is still in its early stages, she said the group is hoping to expand the event and is potentially wanting to close some parts of downtown streets to traffic and temporarily adjust local alcohol ordinances.
Meighan said these efforts could make the event more festival-like.
Moberly Police Chief Troy Link spoke, saying he was in support of expanding the event, but the only potential problem he has identified so far is the adjustment of open-container rules to allow attendees to walk from business to business with wine glasses.
Link said he did not have a problem with wine glasses being openly carried, but he was worried that some could bring in bottles of liquor purchased elsewhere and carry them. He said a contained area could help with policing the event.
Council members discussed several other items during their work session Monday night, most of which were moved forward to the next meeting.
City Council members voted to appropriate $1,086,437.37 out of the city treasury.
All Moberly City Council members were present at the Nov. 7 meeting.
November 8, 2016
New York, NY
New York's bitcoin hub dreams fade with licensing backlog
By Suzanne Barlyn
New York's financial regulator had sights set on becoming a global hub for innovations like bitcoin when it adopted trailblazing virtual currency rules last year. But the state lost that momentum when the agency's chief left, putting a licensing process in limbo and allowing rivals to catch up.
Since June 2015, New York has required virtual currency firms doing business there to get a "BitLicense" to hold customer funds and exchange virtual coins for dollars and other regular currencies.
Benjamin Lawsky headed the Department of Financial Services (DFS) when it developed those rules, acting as an early advocate of virtual currencies when other regulators were still skeptical.
Although it remains unclear whether such currencies will ever gain mainstream acceptance, they are now part of a broader, rapidly-growing industry that blends finance and technology, and which leading financial centers are keen to attract.
For companies, a stamp of approval from a tough regulator offered a chance to win over customers who remained dubious about the product. For New York, it was an opportunity to get ahead of rivals around the world that were also trying to woo "fintech" business.
Yet just after the regulations came into force, Lawsky left the agency. Some senior staffers with BitLicense expertise soon followed him out the door.
Since then, DFS has issued just two BitLicenses. Another 15 applications are still pending, with four others withdrawn and four denied, a spokesman said. Two more virtual currency companies have received trust charters, which treat them more like traditional banks.
"By putting the regulations together and having key staff members leaving almost thereafter, they really put the industry behind the eight-ball in terms of competing with traditional service providers," said Patrick Murck, a lawyer and fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.
Most companies that were operating in New York when the regulations took effect can still do business there while waiting for a license. However, start-ups may face trouble raising money or expanding their business, Murck said.
The virtual-currency industry is miniscule compared to traditional finance, but it has grown rapidly since bitcoin's launch in 2009. There are now other virtual currencies, and broader uses for underlying technologies that create and distribute them.
The bitcoin market is now worth about $10.7 billion, compared to less than $1 billion just three years ago, according to the information site CoinDesk.
LIGHT VS TOUGH
As the market has grown, financial centers around the world have competed aggressively to attract new business. While some have relied on light-touch regulation, the appeal of New York's BitLicense was that it offered a clear legal framework.
However, the slow licensing process and strict requirements are driving some companies away.
An application costs $5,000 to file, and once completed, can run 500 pages - including everything from compliance manuals to executives' fingerprints, lawyers said. Regulators then drill deeper, asking for details of business models, organizational charts or ownership information.
BitLicense forces companies to "extract personal, private information" from users, creating a target for hackers, Erik Voorhees, chief executive of Switzerland-based virtual currency firm ShapeShift.io, said in an interview, explaining the company's decision not to do business in New York.
GoCoin CEO Steve Beauregard told Reuters securing a New York license was not worth the effort: "It's too overreaching and burdensome, especially for the smaller companies," he said.
Marco Santori, who heads the digital currency practice of law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, said at least 15 firms were shunning New York. He has advised clients to focus on states like California, where, he believes, regulators are unlikely to take aim at digital currency companies any time soon. State lawmakers there recently withdrew a second proposal to regulate digital currency companies.
Other states are developing rules and awarding licenses at a faster clip.
Washington State, for example, has issued seven licenses to virtual currency companies since 2013 under its longstanding law for money transfer businesses. North Carolina has licensed two. A uniform virtual currency law that any state can opt into is also in the works, and there has been talk of a possible federal charter.
Internationally, some countries, like Japan, have moved to regulate aspects of digital currency trading, while others, like Bolivia, have banned it. Still others have sought to adapt tax policies and existing laws on money laundering and other illicit activity to the new market. The BitLicense, however, remains a unique approach.
In September, Deloitte ranked New York City No. 3 as a financial-technology destination more broadly, behind London and Singapore.
People familiar with the BitLicense process say the delay in appointing Lawsky's successor sapped some of the momentum.
The new superintendent, Maria Vullo, who took over in June 2016, told Reuters in an interview DFS is striving to clear the application backlog. The reviews had to be thorough, though, because of the risks involved, she said.
New York introduced its BitLicense after the collapse of Mt. Gox, a Tokyo-based exchange that lost an estimated $560 million worth of customers' bitcoins.
"It's not a video game," she said. "It involves real money and taking deposits."
Jerry Brito, executive director of Coin Center, a digital currency research and advocacy group in Washington, said the BitLicense's roll-out did not live up to its promise. Still, New York's leverage as a world financial center would make it hard for companies that want to grow to shun this market, he said.
"I think it's going to be rare that companies say, 'We're not going to do business in New York.'"
(Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn; Editing by Lauren Tara LaCapra and Tomasz Janowski)
November 2, 2016
Cheyenne Mayor: We Need To Look At Liquor License Rules
By Doug Randall
The mayor of Wyoming’s largest city says he thinks the state needs to take a hard look at the laws governing the allocation of liquor licenses across Wyoming.
Cheyenne Mayor Rick Kaysen agrees with the Wyoming Association of Municipalities about the need to reconsider the current cap on the number of licenses per community.
Under current state law every Wyoming community is allowed to issue a certain number of licenses based on its population. Kaysen says he would be in favor of allowing a lot more local flexibility to towns and cities across the state, so that a mid-size community such as Riverton or a smaller town like Pine Bluffs could make their own decisions about the number of liquor licenses to issue.
The mayor says at this point he isn’t sure whether the solution would be to increase the number of licenses allowed or to do away with the caps on licenses entirely, but he says it’s something that needs to be discussed.
He says that includes a discussion on whether the licenses should be issued by population at all or whether the determining factor should be how many licenses the marketplace will support.
The Wyoming State Liquor Association is against changing the current license allocation system, arguing removing the population cap would hurt people who already hold liquor licenses and could lead to an over-saturation of license holders.
November 1, 2016
Mesquite council mulls business license regulations
The Spectrum; www.thespectrum.com
By Lucas M Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mesquite City Council introduced Bill No. 503, which would amend the city’s business license regulations, during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting.
“Last year the council asked the Development Services Department to do a business license audit to determine if businesses were properly classified under the code, if they were paying the right fee, if the ordinance was being administered consistently and so forth,” Development Services Director Richard Secrist said.
Secrist said a study was done that found the city needed to address a number of issues in the code, mainly fixing archaic language and adding “definitions."
“We reviewed the consistency to make sure that businesses that are in the same class were being treated the same way or paying the same fees,” Secrist said.
He added, “This bill adds a new chapter dealing with utilities. Basically it eliminates the old right of way fee and attempts to put various utilities on an equal footing with what they’re paying because right now they’re not. Some pay 5 percent, some pay 3, some pay 9.”
A public hearing is scheduled for the Oct. 25 council meeting.
The city also set the public hearing date for Bill No. 502, which would make separation requirements for medical marijuana facilities consistent with that of liquor facilities, for Oct. 25.
Follow Lucas Thomas on Twitter, @LucasThomas14, or call him at 702-232-0603.
October 26, 2016
Enforcing Payment of Business Licenses Nets Richmond Thousands of Dollars
By California Patch (Patch Staff)The City of Richmond has collected thousands of dollars in new taxes since September when a new city worker started enforcing the law requiring business owners to register their business with the city, Mayor Tom Butt said in his electronic newsletter.The city has collected $26,437.63 in business license taxes that were either overdue or would have gone unpaid before the new system was put in place. The latest collections are averaging more than $3,000 a week, the mayor said in his newsletter. Nearly 1,000 violation notices have been sent out.Separately, city officials have collected $27,100 in transient occupancy tax from 18 property owners who rent their homes through Airbnb.SOURCE: http://patch.com/california/pinole-hercules/enforcing-payment-business-licenses-nets-richmond-thousands-dollars More...
October 20, 2016
San Francisco, CA
SF restaurants to get 1st new liquor licenses in 77 years
San Francisco Chronicle; www.sfchronicle.com
By Emily Green
When Teresa Goines opened Old Skool Cafe in the Bayview in 2012 she wanted to sell liquor. The jazz-themed restaurant employs at-risk youth, and Goines thought liquor sales would help the struggling restaurant become profitable.
A first-time restaurateur, she was shocked to learn the cost of buying a full liquor license: around $300,000. It was “way too expensive,” said Goines. She abandoned the idea and sells beer and wine.
Goines’ experience isn’t unique in the Bayview, a historically blue-collar, African American neighborhood that has seen a modest influx of new housing and retail in recent years. Not a single restaurant on its Third Street commercial corridor has a liquor license, according to the city. That could change next year.
For the first time in 77 years, the state will sell new liquor licenses to restaurants in San Francisco — for $13,800 apiece — under a state law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last month. It takes effect Jan. 1. The licenses — there are only five — will be sold to restaurants located among seven outlying commercial corridors: Third Street in the Bayview, Mission Street in the Excelsior, San Bruno Avenue, Ocean Avenue, Noriega Street, Taraval Street and parts of Visitacion Valley.
Those corridors have largely been left out of an open-market system where restaurants sell liquor licenses to one another at high prices. Most of the restaurants that can afford them are in wealthier neighborhoods that see a lot of tourists and foot traffic.
The reason for their high cost is a 1939 state law that ties the number of licenses for restaurants and bars to a county’s population — 1 per 2,000 residents. That’s about 418 licenses under San Francisco’s current population. When the law was enacted, the city was allowed to keep the 1,000-plus licenses already issued. None has been issued since.
The hope is that the new licenses will spur economic activity in outlying neighborhoods.
“It is a very creative approach to revitalizing challenged neighborhood commercial districts and will provide new businesses and new job opportunities,” said state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who wrote the new law. “A full-service liquor license for a prospective restaurant can be a determining factor in its success.”
Andrea Ferrucci, co-owner of the Dark Horse Inn in the Excelsior, said she will try to get one of the new licenses. In the five years since Ferrucci opened the Dark Horse Inn, which specializes in craft beer, the restaurant has attracted a loyal neighborhood following. Ferrucci wants to open another restaurant in the Excelsior that serves fancy cocktails.
“The profit margin on food is so small that you definitely need the alcohol sales to balance things out,” she said.
Whether Ferrucci opens the new restaurant hinges on winning one of the new liquor licenses. Ferrucci said she “absolutely cannot” afford the $300,000 it costs on the open market.
To get one of the five new liquor licenses, restaurants in the seven corridors — bars don’t qualify — have to show that the community supports the application and pay $13,800 to enter a lottery. If they aren’t selected, they are refunded the money, minus $100.
Restaurants that win the licenses are prohibited from reselling them. If the restaurant closes, it has to relinquish the license to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which will hold a lottery to issue it to another establishment.
Five licenses isn’t a lot. Leno and city officials sought 28 new licenses — four for each designated neighborhood — but the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization reduced the number to five.
The committee was concerned that approving 28 licenses would set a bad precedent, especially considering that no county had ever been given more than five extra licenses in a given year.
“Does this mean that Los Angeles County might be eligible for up to 364 licenses since its population is approximately 13 times greater than San Francisco County?” the committee analysis report said.
The analysis also criticized the idea that community support — or opposition — for a restaurant’s liquor license application could be properly judged. “Who would be empowered to make the final determination of gauging the success, or lack thereof, relating to the meeting?” the report said.
Todd Rufo, director of the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, which sponsored the legislation, doesn’t foresee problems with the law. He thinks it will not only spur economic activity but also contribute to a neighborly feel for those residents who want to get food — and a cocktail — close to home.
“The goal is to demonstrate success, and take it further,” Rufo said.
Emily Green is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @emilytgreen
October 6, 2016
Proposed business license fee increases dropped
The Durango Herald; www.durangoherald.com
By Mary Shinn | Herald staff writer
New licenses will be required next year for lodgers and those who sell marijuana or liquor.
However, the Durango City Council decided Tuesday night not to increase the business license fees or change the fee structure.
“This is not the year to try and achieve equity within our clerk’s department,” Councilor Dean Brookie said.
He pointed out that the business community also would shoulder much of the burden if property tax increases for Durango School District 9-R, roads and bridges, and the Durango-La Plata County Airport passed.
The city’s fees for business licenses are based on employees, and total fees are capped when a business employs 21 people or more.
The proposal would have increased fees and created five new tiers – levying added fees for businesses with 501 employees or more. The largest employers would pay $320 for a license.
Instead, the most expensive licenses will remain $122.
Councilors Sweetie Marbury and Dick White supported the proposed structure because it would help the clerk’s office cover the expense of licenses and the increases were fairly modest.
Other councilors argued it doesn’t cost the city more to process a license for a company with more employees, and those companies are more likely to be large retailers.
“I don’t want to charge more to the businesses that are collecting money for us,” Councilor Keith Brant said.
White proposed increasing the fees for all the existing tiers by $10, but that proposal was not supported.
Ultimately, Marbury and White voted with the other councilors to introduce fees aimed at a more equitable structure for all.
Alcohol and marijuana sellers in Durango receive their business licenses for free when they pay for or renew specialty licenses.
Next year, they will have to pay for a license, the same as other businesses.
Those with state liquor licenses will have to pay an occupational fee of $500 because they do not pay for local licenses.
Hotels, motels and vacation rental companies will all have to pay $30 annually for a sub-license fee that has been law since 2008, but it has not been enforced.
These new licenses are expected to raise about $15,800.
September 29, 2016
No business licenses
Neosho Daily News; www.neoshodailynews.com
Two Neosho businesses and their owners were cited Tuesday for doing business without a license.
By Dave Horvath
Two Neosho businesses and their owners were cited Tuesday for doing business without a license.
Laura Wallace, 56, was issued a citation for continuing to operate without a license, though Lt. Mike Sharp said she reported she is taking steps to rectify the situation.
Also during the 1:30 p.m. response to 925 South Neosho Boulevard, Ink Well Tattooze owner Jerry Girdner, 43, was cited for operating without a business license.
"They were sent a letter stating they must obtain a business license," Sharp noted. "We did not force them to shut down."
Police had received a notification from city hall that the businesses were not in compliance, he said.
Neither of the businesses were operating with an active license for several years, according to Lt. Jason Baird.
Ryan Mabree, 40, was charged with possession of a controlled substance after Sharp said police responded about 11:15 p.m. to the 700 block of Park Street when a resident reported a suspicious person near the fish hatchery.
"He was found with a bag of what's believed to be methamphetamine, it field-tested positive," Sharp stated. "He matched the description of the suspicious person."
An officer responded at 5:06 p.m. to the 700 block of Lafayette Street where Sharp said the resident reported $8,350 was stolen from the residence.
No signs of forced entry were noted and Sharp said the resident could provide no information about suspects.
September 22, 2016
Legislation could free more liquor licenses in Wyoming
Wyoming Tribune Eagle; www.wyomingnews.com
By Matt Murphy, Wyoming Tribune Eagle
CHEYENNE – Wyoming lawmakers are working on legislation that could free up inactive liquor licenses for other entrepreneurs to use.
The Legislature’s Joint Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Committee voted to send a bill doing so to the full Legislature last week.
Currently, liquor license holders are only required to sell alcohol for three consecutive months per year to keep their license.
License holders also have a two-year grace period from the time a license is issued or transferred to begin alcohol sales unless a city allows for an additional year.
The existing system means a business could land a coveted retail liquor license, but only sell alcohol for three months to keep that license.
But because retail liquor licenses are limited by an area’s population, a business having, but not using, such a license prevents someone else from taking full advantage of the license.
“They’re holding onto it for an investment purpose, but it’s hurting the market,” said Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, who is a co-chair of the corporations committee.
In addition, a business not in operation or not selling alcohol generates less tax revenue.
Under the bill approved by the corporations committee, license holders would have to use their license for 12 consecutive months to keep it.
Further, the two-year grace period would be dropped to one year, though a city could still add on an extra year if it chooses.
Grace periods could also not be repeated as long as the business is in operation.
A “seasonal operation with recreational facilities” could still keep its license under the three-month rule, however.
The proposed system could force license holders to either make use of their license or release it for use by someone who will.
Zwonitzer said the change will primarily affect Cheyenne and Casper by virtue of those communities being larger.
Cheyenne City Clerk Carol Intlekofer said there are four retail liquor licenses that are currently “parked.”
Intlekofer said liquor licenses are classified as “parked” when the license is inactive, most often when a licensee is working on a building to prepare for their business or when there is a change of ownership for a license.
The clerk’s office is responsible for determining the status of those licenses.
Some of Cheyenne’s “parked” licenses are expected to be used soon for new businesses such as the retail license issued to Sam Galeotos last year. That license will be used for a new restaurant downtown.
Any changes to the liquor license laws are still several months away, as the full Legislature will need to pass the measure in 2017.
Matt Murphy is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s state government reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-633-3124. Follow him on Twitter at @mattmurphywy.
September 20, 2016
Belvidere to consider business licenses after crackdown on massage parlors
By Susan Vela | Staff writer
BELVIDERE — City officials are exploring the possibility of mandating business licenses after police officers executed searches Wednesday of four State Street massage parlors, which led to 14 arrests.
Mayor Mike Chamberlain said the city doesn’t have a business licensing system because it didn't want to hinder new operations with expenses and fees. Officials now want to consider no-cost licenses.
“That gives the city the ability to pull somebody’s business license,” Chamberlain said. “This has now become a necessary conversation. We’re exploring all of the parameters of that now. We will find a solution.”
Police raided C'est La Vie Health Spa & Modeling, 401 S. State St.; Spa Tui-Na, 120 N. State St.; Executive Relaxation Station, 134 N. State St.; and Royal Oriental Massage, 404 S. State St. C’est La Vie was in operation for more than 40 years at South State and West Pleasant streets.
“The goal was to bring the hammer down at the same time on all those types of operations,” Chamberlain said. “I’m not aware of any others that are operating.”
Those arrested mainly face misdemeanor charges of prostitution and Massage Licensing Act violations. If found guilty, they could spend at least a year in jail.
Michael Cain, 48, of Beloit, Wisconsin, was charged with three felony counts of promoting prostitution and three misdemeanor Massage Licensing Act violations. He was lodged at Boone County Jail without bond and faces time in prison.
“There was a wide range of activities that were occurring from massages up to sexual activity,” Det. Sgt. Matt Wallace said.
The arrests concluded a 14-month multi-jurisdictional investigation, which Chamberlain prompted after residents complained of suspicious activity. C’est La Vie had been operating for decades.
“This has been an issue that has run on for a number of years,” Chamberlain said during a news conference. “Previous administrations made a stab at it and didn’t get the job done.”
Belvidere native Jane Gordon is glad the city cracked down on massage parlors.
“We’d rather have an upstanding, moral community,” the West Second Street resident said.
“That just doesn’t fit in with this.”
Belvidere Police Department may start working with federal agencies because of an ongoing human trafficking investigation involving the arrests.
Susan Vela: 815-987-1392; email@example.com; @susanvela
September 9, 2016
Myrtle Beach, SC
City of Myrtle Beach looks for those operating without business licenses
News 13 WBTW; www.wbtw.com
By Jana Jones
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – Myrtle Beach has strictly-regulated business licenses within the city and has for quite some time. That’s not new. However, the city will now try to regulate that further by hiring an outside contractor.
Lately, city officials have noticed it’s not the brick and mortar stores they’re having trouble with.
City officials say technology companies, outside contractors and people who rent through VRBO and Air B and B are the ones who are operating without business licenses.
Some of these businesses likely have a license within Horry County but not within city limits. The company the city will utilize is called Nustrat Analytics. If they identify missing business licenses, the city will pay the company 35% of the missing revenue. City spokesman Mark Kruea doesn’t think the outside company will find many violators.
“I think it’ll be interesting to see how worthwhile this is. Again there is no cost to the city so it’s not like we are spending money. We’ll find out as the company does its job wether or not there are a great many of businesses operating without licenses. I expect there will be a few, I’m not expecting there will be thousands.”
Kruea says there are now more businesses than ever within city limits. At last check he said there’s more than 9,000.
September 7, 2016
City of Magnolia preparing five-tier business license fee schedule, starting at $50 a year
By Mike McNeill, publisher and editor
Magnolia City Council members on Monday hammered out final changes to proposed increases in the license fee that businesses pay for the right to operate in town.
The council, meeting as a committee to discuss the topic, agreed to recommend a new fee schedule for a vote at the council’s next meeting.
Councilman Steve Crowell proposed a five-tier fee schedule based on the number of employees working at a business. In its final form following some tinkering, the annual fee schedule looked like this:
Up to 5 employees, $50.
6-24 employees, $100.
25-49 employees, $200.
50-99 employees, $300.
100 or more employees, $400.
Councilman Jamie Waller, who had earlier proposed a flat $100 license fee for all businesses, went along with the new plan, as did the rest of the council following lengthy discussion.
Waller and the rest of the council determined weeks ago that they wanted to change the city’s decades-old fee schedule, which included several pages of fees ranging from less than $10 to several hundred dollars.
It’s not known precisely how much money the new fee schedule will generate, since there’s no breakdown readily available as to the number of full-time employees working at each business in the city. City officials acknowledge that they will simply trust each business to send a check appropriate to the employee base. The current business license fee generates about $40,000 a year from more than 600 businesses known to operate in Magnolia.
Pending formal council approval, businesses will receive bills after the first of the year and will have until Feb. 28, 2017 to pay them. Late payments or non-payments will lead to the assessment of a 10 percent penalty.
The proposal will define an employee as someone who receives a W-2 form from employment at the business.
Council members expressed uneasiness about Waller’s original plan under which a business with one employee would have paid the same fee as a business with hundreds of workers. Waller’s stated justifications for the flat fee were essentially two-fold – first, that all businesses receive the same city services regardless of their size; and, second, that the flat fee was fairer than attempting to assess the relative value of unrelated businesses for fee-setting purposes.
Businessman Scott Rowland, speaking from the audience, called the business fee another tax.
“You have the government mentality, oh, if we don’t have enough money, we’ll tax,” Rowland said. Businesses don’t have to option of charging clients more money if income is running short, he said.
“We have to lay employees off when we’re short,” Rowland said. “To be honest with you, I’m at the end of my rope.”
Rowland said his business gives a lot of money to charities and other groups that ask for support.
“We’re bombarded as business people in town – can we give a donation for this or can we give a donation for that. I’m glad I’m blessed. I’m happy to do it. But adding more taxes – I’m tired of it,” Rowland said.
“You’re hurting the backbone of Magnolia, and that’s small business.”
September 5, 2016
Fountain Valley, CA
Girl, 10 is told she needs liability insurance and a business licence costing $3,500 to carry on running her lemonade stand
Daily Mail; www.dailymail.co.uk
By RORY TINGLE for MAILONLINE
A 10-year-old girl has been told she needed liability insurance and a business license costing $3,500 to run her lemonade stand.
Anabelle Lockwood, from Fountain Valley, California, started the stand on a 'hot summer day' in June after spending the night squeezing lemons.
She set up 'The Loco Lemon' in her townhouse complex on a cart her dad built for her 10th birthday and was 'amazed' by the response from customers.
But days later her family got a letter from the residents' group calling it 'a safety hazard' and she was forbidden to set up her stand again.
Annabelle moved around different spots and her lemonade, which comes in flavors such as watermelon and blueberry ginger, sold out every day.
Anabelle told KTLA: 'I always wanted to have a lemonade stand. All my friends were talking about it and I thought it was a good idea.'
But now she has been told by Orange County health officials to pay up a total of $3,500 and about $500 per year after that if she wants to continue trading.
Her family have set up a GoFundMe page to try to meet the costs.
It reads: 'As a small business owner myself, I know that this isn't much to start a potentially successful business. 'But to a 10 year old, it seems like a million.
'This isn't just another business venture... it's becoming a life lesson for a young ambitious entrepreneur.
'She's extremely passionate about her business, and we are so proud of her for creating something that so many others can enjoy!'
August 30, 2016
'Why are they targeting me,' Kingwood business owner has license suspended for second time
by Theresa Marthey | STAFF WRITERKINGWOOD — “Why are they targeting me,” were the emotional words from Christina Jackson, owner and operator of Preston Primitives on East Main Street in Kingwood.Jackson was referring to the second revocation of her city business license by Kingwood City Council.At the August 23 City Council meeting, Recorder William Robertson recommended the city “suspend and revoke the business license of Preston Primitives.”“Preston Primitives was instructed several weeks ago to remove their sign because of violation of building permits,” Robertson said at the meeting. “They took down their sign, and through time it was placed up against their house and on weekends they brought it back to where it was.”“It is our opinion that it is a violation of the building permit, and they were not issued a building permit,” Robertson continued.Robertson recommended, and council agreed, city attorney Sheila Kay Williams send Jackson a letter providing them with options to operate a business in Kingwood and to clarify any issues.Jackson was stunned this action has been taken a second time.“First, I want to say that I have not been putting any signs out, especially cardboard signs as Mr. Robertson indicated,” Jackson said. “I did have some baby items and toys that had a ‘FREE’ cardboard sign.”Jackson said she put that sign out with the items at about 8:30 p.m. one evening, and when the items were gone she removed the sign later that evening.Early in June, Jackson’s license was revoked due to the signage in front of the house. Jackson said that her license was restored at the following city council meeting.“From my understanding, due to the fact I have no paid employees and it is not my only source of income, I was given my license back in June,” Jackson said. “Then here we go again.”Jackson believes the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, and as a result, she is being punished.“This whole situation began back in June when I applied for a sign permit and business license,” Jackson said. “I wanted to make sure I had done everything correctly, so I went to the city and applied for the license.”At that time, Jackson was told she would have to go in front of the Board of Zoning Appeals to get a variance for the license because it was in a residential district.“Then I get a call from the city clerk and was told I didn’t have to go in front of Zoning because I fit the requirements,” Jackson said.Jackson said the business is not her main source of income as she works full-time in another job.“The shop is only open occasionally during the week from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m.,” Jackson said. “It is also open on Saturdays. We don’t have any heavy traffic coming in and out.”Jackson said last week she only had three or four people come in.“Every time I get going again, they suspend my license,” Jackson said. “I just want them to quit.”The city council also voted for the immediate implementation of any brick and mortar business license requests be sent to the Board of Zoning Appeals first and then come to council for approval.“I would like to see the zoning board have a process to check out the business licenses for any potential problems before sending them onto us,” Robertson said. “I would like to see it take effect immediately.”Jackson said she believes she should be grandfathered into the new regulations for a business license since she had applied and received, twice, her business license before this new change was implemented.Jackson plans to attend the next City Council meeting on September 13 to plea her case, and has hopes her business license is restored.Kingwood City Council meetings are the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month beginning at 7 p.m. in the City Hall Meeting Room.Staff Writer Theresa Marthey can be reached at (304) 276-1127 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.orgSOURCE: http://www.theet.com/prestoncountyjournal/news/why-are-they-targeting-me-kingwood-business-owner-has-license/article_e9e737e7-3a22-55ac-907a-f71f54fc3413.html More...
August 10, 2016
Yakima to accept marijuana business license applications
By Crystal Bui
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Monday will be the first day for those with marijuana retailer business licenses from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board to apply for retail license with Yakima.
People will still have to go through several steps, including approval from the Yakima city codes enforcement.
Yakima will have up to five marijuana retail shops within the city limits. They will have to be at least a thousand feet away from areas with children.
August 8, 2016
Reading officials and trash haulers still at odds over business licenses, tax
By Dan Kelly
READING, PA - At least three of 12 trash haulers singled out by Reading officials for not having business licenses and failing to pay business privilege taxes believe they have an ironclad defense.
Cindy Kemp, co-owner of Cleon Kemp Sanitation, said Friday that she has a letter dated March 19, 2007, from the city tax department saying that unless the firm had a physical location in the city, it did not need a business license or have to pay business privilege taxes.
"We're not located in the city," Kemp said. "We're in Exeter Township, and we pay taxes there so we don't need a license or to pay taxes to the city according to this letter."
Kemp said all the haulers doing business in Reading also had received the letter absolving them of Reading business privilege taxes and license fees.
"We all have the letter," she said.
However, City Managing Director W. Glenn Steckman III said the letter was not based on legislation but rather on a Commonwealth Court ruling that said a business not located in the municipality didn't have to pay the privilege tax.
"That decision was appealed to the state Supreme Court and it was overturned," Steckman said.
Apparently the city tax division sent out the exemption letter to haulers after the Commonwealth Court ruling in September 2014 but before the case was shot down by the state Supreme Court in May 2015, Steckman said.
But that message apparently never got back to city tax clerks.
Keith Kemp, co-owner of Keith Kemp Sanitation, Robeson Township, said that he has the letter, too.
"I've gone in there every year for the past five years and the girl in there will not let me buy a license or pay any tax because she said we are exempt," he said.
The business license costs $55 and the tax is 1.5 percent of gross revenues.
The haulers made the comments after Steckman held a press conference Friday to announce that 12 of 19 trash haulers working in Reading have not obtained a business license or paid business privilege taxes for at least five years. City officials initially said there were 20 haulers, but one firm had bought another.
In addition to withholding licenses for the companies until they pay the back taxes and license fees, Steckman said he has asked City Solicitor Charles D. Younger to determine if criminal and civil citations can be issued against the haulers.
"They are required to obtain a license and pay the tax," Steckman said. "All of these folks were sent letters in mid-July saying they owed business taxes and license fees and only one responded and they (the others) chose to ignore them."
Contact Dan Kelly: 610-371-5040 or email@example.com.
August 2, 2016
Diamond City, AR
Diamond City considers new business license ordinance
Harrison Daily Times; www.harrisondaily.com
By David Holsted
DIAMOND CITY — An ordinance establishing the requirements for a business license in Diamond City was introduced into the July 26 City Council meeting.
The ordinance states that the city currently has no system to identify, classify or quantify businesses or their owners within the city limits.
First-time applicants will pay $20 with renewals being $10. Application for the license, along with the fee, is due by Jan. 31 of each year. All renewals will be due by Jan. 31 of each successive year.
Any person or entity doing business in the city and failing to make an application or pay the applicable fee may be cited with a misdemeanor offense, punishable by fines and costs up to $1,000. Diamond City may also take necessary civil action to close or collect from the business.
The ordinance also provides some exemptions from the requirement of a business license. They are churches and non-profit organizations, farmer markets and residential or commercial landlords.
The ordinance also addresses home occupations, which include, but are not limited to, art studio, dressmaking and the professional office of a physician, dentist, lawyer, engineer, architect, accountant, salesman, real estate agent, insurance agent or similar occupations.
Tuesday night saw the first reading of the ordinance. It will require three readings, the next two coming at the August and September council meetings.
In other business, the council accepted the resignation of alderman Tina Jackson. She was then appointed as interim treasurer/recorder. Mayor Jan Hudson said that Jackson will finish out the year, then will be subject to an election.
The council voted to table an agenda item concerning a new city building permit application and process.
July 27, 2016
The Speak Is Back, But the Speakeasy’s Liquor License Problems May Not Be Over
The Washingtonian; www.washingtonian.com
By Jessica Sidman
Most modern-day “speakeasies” only pretend to be illegal drinking dens, but K Street basement bar The Speak really was one. The place didn’t have a proper liquor license, and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board shut it down in November after about six months of operation. The regulatory troubles also put a halt to a “caviar fusion lounge” planned upstairs from the same owner, Ajiboye Laosebikan.
But now, The Speak is back, and the half-built caviar lounge is being transformed into Vieux Carre, a New Orleans-inspired cocktail bar serving po’ boys, Cajun fries, and snowballs. Both bars at 1413 K Street, Northwest, come from local construction company owner James Tillman, who took over the lease from Laosebikan. Tillman had been a fan of The Speak, so he called brand consultant Seth McClelland, who conceptualized the original speakeasy, to help him reopen it and create the new bar upstairs.
It turns out, however, The Speak may still be a real speakeasy. According to Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration spokesperson Jessie Cornelius, it’s a violation for an establishment to operate under any trade name that has not been approved by the liquor board. The Speak is not an approved trade name—only Vieux Carre is listed on the liquor license. Cornelius says ABRA is investigating the matter.
McClelland, who’s acted as the face of the business, declined to comment about the trade name issue yesterday afternoon.
“This is all news to me,” says Andrew Kline, the lawyer who helped Tillman with his liquor license application. “I don’t know anything about that.”
In an interview last week, McClelland—who previously owned One Lounge and whose consulting company YBC stands for “Young Ballers Creative”—said he wasn’t aware of any problems with the original liquor license before The Speak got shut down. The bar ran into problems when ABRA inspectors showed up on November 1, 2015, after receiving an anonymous complaint about the establishment operating without an appropriate liquor license. The liquor board had not yet approved a transfer of the license from the previous occupant of the space, Tattoo Bar, to Laosebikan’s company, Boyermarketing LLC. Also, the license did not cover the basement of the building where The Speak is located.
“We walked away very sadly because I just really loved this bar a lot,” McClelland said.
When the bar reopened last week, few changes had been made. Patrons still descend a set of stairs into an unfinished plaster-covered atrium with a “for rent” sign and enter the bar through a door hidden behind a framed mirror.
The bar plays hip-hop music and serves classic cocktails. Bartender Jeff Coles, who oversaw the drink menu at The Speak the first go-around, is back again as beverage director. The only foods are chips and olives.
Upstairs at Vieux Carre, one of the few remnants of the never-completed caviar bar was an ornate iron railing that lined the mezzanine and staircase. Between that and the alley-like entrance, “I immediately just thought of New Orleans,” McClelland says. That’s how the concept for a New Orleans-style cocktail bar came to be.
The cocktail menu, also created by Coles, will play on the French, American Southern, and Caribbean influences of the Big Easy. Coles plans to serve “craft” versions of sickly sweet party staples like Hurricanes and Hand Grenades as well as older classics that people may be less familiar with, like the Brandy Crusta, La Louisiane, and Absinthe Frappe.
The bar will also serve a Ramos Gin Fizz, which is a New Orleans breakfast classic. Many bars don’t serve it because it requires at 12 minutes of shaking to make properly. “Some of these big old New Orleans hotel bars you’ll see where people are ordering a lot of them, they employ people who aren’t actually barbacks, just sort of professional shakers,” Coles says. Vieux Carre takes a shortcut by using a whipped cream canister to emulsify the drink much faster.
The food menu will consist of Cajun fries and po’ boys with oyster, shrimp, sausage, or chicken. If you don’t want it in sandwich form, you can get a “po’ bowl” with just the proteins and a dipping sauce. There will also be snowballs with or without alcohol.
If all goes as planned, Vieux Carre will open Friday.
July 26, 2016
Business license fee raised
The Skagway News; www.skagwaynews.com
By Elise Giordano
Borough assembly members approved the first reading of an ordinance raising the cost of municipal business licenses and removing a provision for quarterly sales tax return compensation.
Licenses have cost $10 since 1996 but will now cost $50. Businesses will no longer deduct between $10 and $100 each quarter from their sales tax returns, as it results in a loss for the municipality.
The change was first discussed by the finance committee and later by civic affairs.
Assemblyman Tim Cochran said $100 was originally entertained, so $50 is a happy medium.
The ordinance was unanimously approved and should it pass a second reading, will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017.
July 22, 2016
Pacific Grove, CA
Pacific Grove wants to increase business license tax 140 percent
By Caitlin Conrad
PACIFIC GROVE, Calif. —Pacific Grove city leaders will decide at Wednesday's City Council meeting if they will ask residents to approve an increase on business license taxes on the November ballot.
The city wants to increase the business license tax by 140 percent.
The proposed increase would take the current rate from $0.001 per dollar of gross receipts to $0.0024.
If passed, the initiative would also remove the current cap.
Right now, if a business makes more than $3 million in gross receipts, they only pay $3,000 in business license tax because that is the current cap.
City Manager Ben Harvey said there are about 20 businesses in Pacific Grove affected by the cap.
The city has been exploring ways to increase revenue for months and this is one of the ideas the council thinks could work.
"It's a beautiful old city but we need to start investing in our city," Harvey said. "Our infrastructure is very tired, and we don't have any mechanisms currently to do anything other than the status quo."
The business community is not happy about the proposal.
"Every dollar counts in a small business, and it would be an extra $200 or $300 a year for me," said Joe Shammas, owner of Pacific Grove Travel.
Shammas employs four people and said he already has enough expenses.
"We have rent, of course, all of our insurances, my salaries, you know everything that a small business has to pay," he said.
Shammas isn't the only concerned business owner.
"I think everybody is a little bit nervous about it," said Rosemary Valuch, owner of Carried Away Boutique.
Valuch said she plans to attend the City Council meeting to get all the details, but thinks the ramifications could be serious.
"Adding that extra 140 percent, I think it comes out to is a big chunk for someone like me," she said.
Harvey said the city currently takes in $350,000 from the business license tax and estimates raising the tax would bring an additional $500,000 to the general fund.
Because the funds are going to the general fund, the ballot measure will need a simple majority, 50 percent plus one, of the vote.
"We're hoping it doesn't even make it to the ballot, because the businesses are really squeezed in Pacific Grove," Shammas said. "We're just trying to make our way and make the town a nice place to live."
Tax measure for the general fund also have to go on a ballot for the general election.
If it doesn't make it on the 2016 ballot, the city will have to wait for the next general election.
July 20, 2016
Mountain Home, AR
City awards eight business licenses in June
The Baxter Bulletin; www.baxterbulletin.com
By Scott Liles, firstname.lastname@example.org
The city of Mountain Home issued eight new business licenses and collected more than $8,000 in licensing revenue in June, according to Roberta Pack, Mountain Home office manager.
The city issued licenses to two restaurants, a sewing center, a beauty salon and several home-based businesses, according to Pack’s June report.
June business licenses were issued to the following:
• Western Sizzlin, Richard Davidson, 1502 U.S. Hwy. 62 East, a restaurant.
• Mountain Wealth Management LLC, Josh Willard, 341 U.S. Hwy. 62 East Suite B, a financial consultant.
• Clutter Free, Michael Schnaufer, 120 Rosewood Loop No. 1, a home-based business.
• Ragalia Raz, Mary Burr, 105 Spring Park Drive, a home-based Internet business.
• Apex Lawn Care, Robert Jacobelli, 172 Lucky Place, a home-based business.
• Spice House, Ricky Mehmood, 50 Paul Wood Lane, a restaurant.
• Salon Red, Khin Ly, 9 E. Fifth Street, a beauty salon.
• Sew Smart Sewing Center DBA Pennelope’s Cupboard, Inc., Nelle Miley, 307 S. Main St. Suite 9, a retail sewing machine business.
Revenue from licensing in June totaled $8,794.44, according to June’s report. The breakdown is as follows:
• $7,215.44 from alcohol tax and licenses;
• $1,219.00 from occupation licenses;
• $40 from pet licenses;
• $320 from garage sales.
July 19, 2016
Businesses thirsty for additional Canton liquor licenses
By Aimee Chiavaroli | Correspondent
Canton selectmen decided to issue up to four of the five pouring licenses and up to two of the package store licenses during their June 28 meeting.
At the June 7 meeting, selectmen announced Canton was granted special legislation to get five additional alcohol pouring licenses and two package store licenses.
Business owners will have the opportunity to apply for a license and present their case for why they need. The date for the separate public hearing has not yet been determined.
“The board contemplated not issuing all of the licenses,” said retiring Town Administrator Bill Friel, whose retirement began after the meeting.
Selectman Victor Del Vecchio suggested not all of the licenses should be issued at this point.
“It’s a good idea to make a number of them available, but it’s a good idea to hold back one or two of each,” Del Vecchio said.
Attorney Paul Schneiders, who was attending the meeting on behalf of four businesses, asked selectmen to allow applications for four pouring licenses.
Schneiders was representing Mai Place, Boston Mutual, Oliveira's Steak House and Best Western. He mentioned Canton Holdings may want to get a liquor license in the future if they decide to do a restaurant.
“I’d at least like to have them apply,” he said.
About a year ago, Schneiders said he asked for more licenses to be made available for establishments he represented. Now he wants to make sure those businesses can apply for the licenses.
Mai Place already has a beer and wine license, but Schneiders said the restaurant has been trying to get an all alcohol pouring license for 13 years.
Selectman Kevin Connolly said he felt the board was being blamed for that not happening.
“Several people have called me and said ‘why are you not giving it to them?’” Connolly said. “They chose not to purchase the license that was available.”
Connolly said Mai Place had an opportunity to purchase the license for $150,000, but declined.
Schneiders said Mai Place couldn’t afford that offer.
Schneiders said businesses want to come to Canton, but won’t if they cannot apply for a liquor license.
He said Oliveira’s Steak House wants to take place of the closed Gap store in the Village Mall in town with a 200-seat restaurant. This would be a $1.4 million project.
“That plan is dead in the water if we can’t at least apply for a license,” Schneiders said. “No one wants to do a restaurant without a liquor license.”
Selectmen, however, said they want to know these businesses are serious about having a space in town.
“We want a good faith demonstration that they’re gonna be here,” Del Vecchio said. “Many of these sound quite appealing, but let’s not do this prematurely.”
Selectmen Chairman Robert Burr noted that the liquor licenses are non-transferable and can’t be sold in the future. If the owners of Mai Place do get an all alcohol license in the future, they would have to give their beer and wine license back to the board.
“Now with this, we’re being given a little more authority,” Burr said, referencing the special legislation and the additional licenses.
Selectmen said they are being cautious with how many licenses they choose to make available at this time, but they may be able to ask for more if they need to.
Connolly said Foxboro has asked for more licenses, so it’s possible Canton could get more in the future as well.
Connolly suggested making four of the five pouring licenses and two package licenses available, which the board approved 4-0. Vice-Chairman Mark Porter was absent from the meeting.
July 18, 2016
City of Tallahassee to repeal business license tax
By: Mariel Carbone
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- More money back in the pockets of local business owners.
Tallahassee leaders voted Wednesday night to repeal the city's business license tax, and became the first city in the state to do so.
This comes at the request of the Chamber of Commerce. Chairman Kathy Bell told Eyewitness News that it's all about the growth of local business. She said it's an important gesture from the city and lets business owners know the community appreciates them.
"Our city commission, our commissioners, our mayor, also look at it as a privilege to have business here. And if there is something that we can do on the public sector side to contribute to that, and show you that we understand, your being here is creating jobs, growing your business, employing our residents, it's a significant contributor to the stability and growth of Tallahassee."
The business tax is on average $119 for local businesses and $303 for non-local businesses. It will affect about 12,000 businesses across the city, and save a total of nearly $2 million.
Business owners have mixed responses, but some say that having one less thing to worry about benefits their consumers.
"When you own a business, you have 90 million different things going on at any different day. And what you're trying to do is make sure the customer has the best experience because that's the life and blood of your business. Not making sure you have to be at city hall to pay another tax," said Matt Thompson, owner of Madison Social.
"It goes back to the community for sure because we're able to increase our stock levels by that amount; it comes off the overhead," said Michael Rachlin, owner of Head Over Heels.
Still, other businesses owners said the savings are minimal, and it won't really make much of a difference.
However, for companies that employ individual professionals, like doctors or lawyers, there will be a big impact. Those businesses must pay the tax for each one of the individual professionals.
An ordinance change is still required for this repeal to go through. It won't go into effect until the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
July 14, 2016
The City of Tucker will issue first business licenses beginning July 1
Dekalb Neighbor; www.mdjonline.com
Friday, July 1, the City of Tucker will begin issuing its first official commercial business licenses.
Tucker officials will take photos and celebrate the first official business license application, which is expected to go to Tucker business owner Gerald Carter of Carter Fiber.
Applications will be accepted at City Hall, 4119 Adrian Street, starting at 9 a.m. Business owners wanting to apply for a commercial business license must bring proper documentation to be considered.
“We look forward to taking our next step in making Tucker a fully functioning city,” said Mayor Frank Auman. “And issuing business licenses will bring us one step closer to our goal.”
If businesses have already obtained a 2016 business license from DeKalb County, there is no need to apply for a City of Tucker license. The City will use the County’s business license fee structure until it adopts one of its own.
Voters approved a ballot referendum in November 2015 to declare Tucker, a nearly 125-year-old community, DeKalb County’s newest city. Since the city’s inauguration, council members have worked to make sure the city begins on a solid foundation.
On May 23, the City of Tucker selected CH2M to provide municipal services for the newly-formed city. The CH2M team will manage the city’s administration, finance and community development departments.
CH2M will perform code enforcement, planning and zoning, and building permitting and inspections. The firm will also handle administrative services, including revenue collection, financial support and general staff support.
June 23, 2016
Gov. Cuomo Announces Agreement to Modernize Alcoholic Beverage Control Law
The agreement allows alcohol to be sold earlier on Sundays
ALBANY, N.Y.New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday an agreement on legislation to modernize New York’s 80-year-old Alcoholic Beverage Control Law.
The agreement allows alcohol to be sold earlier on Sundays, adds provisions to broaden retail sales by producers, and reduces fees for wineries, distilleries, breweries and cideries statewide.
The agreement expands Sunday sales at restaurants and bars by changing the statewide opening hours from noon to 10 a.m. In addition, the agreement enables these licensees to apply for a permit, limited to twelve per year, to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises on Sundays between 8 a.m. and the new 10 a.m. opening hour in areas outside New York City.
The agreement also combines craft manufacturing licenses into one application to reduce paperwork for these small businesses.
Current law requires that wine sold at retail for off-premises consumption be kept in their original sealed containers, and consequently, New York wineries are prohibited from filling growlers. The agreement enacts a change to the law to allow wineries to fill their customer’s growlers. In addition, the agreement authorizes wineries and farm wineries to allow customers to take home partially finished bottles of wine.
The agreement allows liquor stores to sell gift wrapping and gift bags to their customers.
Legislation to amend the ABC Law was first proposed by Governor Cuomo in May as a direct result of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law Working Group – a blue ribbon panel created by Governor Cuomo in November 2015 tasked with developing recommendations to modernize the laws governing the manufacturing, wholesale and retail of alcoholic beverages in New York State.
June 22, 2016
Multnomah County, OR
Multnomah County Tobacco Shops Need New Licenses
By Kristian Foden-Vencil
Multnomah County adopted new rules for tobacco licenses this week.
Stores that sell tobacco will have to apply for a license starting July 1.
Whether a shop is a “mom and pop affair,” or a quarter of a million square foot Walmart, the new tobacco license costs $580.
The money pays for Multnomah County inspectors to visit stores and make sure they’re not selling to minors. Shops are meant to check the IDs of any customer appearing to be younger than 27.
Multnomah County director Tricia Tillman called it a major public health victory.
“I think in 2012 it was one-in-four retailers sold to children and in 2014, it was almost one-in-three. So we know that retailers are not adhering to the law that protects children,” she said.
No county general fund money will be used to run the program, just like the restaurant inspection program.
Enforcement doesn’t start until January 1.
June 20, 2016
Grayson City Council changes roadways, enforces business license penalties
The Daily Independent; www.dailyindependent.com
By Rachel Adkins | The Daily Independent
GRAYSON - Converting a one-way street into a two-way street and enforcing penalties for businesses that have not paid their fees were discussed by the Grayson City Council Tuesday.
Making 5th Street two-way has been voted on twice already by the council and was approved for implementation on June 1 before falling through. At the Tuesday meeting, the transformation was finally set in stone and will be effective July 1.
Closing the alley on Armstrong Street outside the Church of Christ was also addressed at the meeting by resident Bill Bush.
“It’s not for convenience, it’s for safety,” said Bush, referring to the chance children could get hit by vehicles in the alley. Bush requested the alley, which runs adjacent to Short Street and Rupert Lane, be closed off from the front of the church to the nearby apartment complex.
His request was approved. The portion of the alley will close July 1.
Bush asked for the conversion of 4th Street, a one-way street, into a two-way street as well, but the council did not agree.
The council discussed six businesses that have not paid license fees. Council member Duanne Suttles, who took over for Mayor George Steele, explained that police must hand-deliver letters detailing the fees to the delinquent businesses.
The business then has 10 days to pay. If not, on the 10th day the business will be ordered closed and if it remains open will be fined $500 each day.
The council agreed to enforce the ordinance and to send out the letters on Wednesday to start the process.
(606) 326-2653 | email@example.com
June 17, 2016
Barrington serves up new liquor license to draw craft breweries, distilleries
Chicago Tribune; www.chicagotribune.com
By Todd Shields, Pioneer Press
Crystal Lake and Lake Zurich have them, and Barrington may be next in line.
Peggy Blanchard, director of economic development for Barrington, said breweries run by independent beer makers have recently opened in both nearby villages.
On Monday, Barrington trustees positioned the village for the budding trend by unanimously approving a new liquor license category that would allow businesses to distill and serve alcohol on site.
"This is a trend in suburban communities, and we are watching what's happening in other towns," she said.
According to the village ordinance, eligible businesses for the new liquor license include brewpubs, wineries and distilleries.
Village Manager Jeff Lawler said village officials have received several informal inquiries from potential businesses about opening breweries in Barrington, although none have yet to request a license.
"But we know there's a lot of interest here in that type of liquor service," he said. "The village wants to be prepared for it."
The number of independent, smaller craft breweries across the country have increased dramatically in recent years, as the market for craft brews sees heightened demand. Roughly 4,225 craft breweries operated in the U.S. in 2015, up from a total of 2,401 in 2012, according to figures from the Colorado-based Brewers Association, a trade group representing independent beer makers.
Illinois also ranked 10th in the country for breweries in 2015 with 157 total, association figures show. In 2011, Illinois had 54 breweries. The state with the most breweries last year was California at 518 total, according to the association.
Lawler said increased local interest in breweries also is tied to the influx of restaurants that have recently opened in downtown Barrington.
The new liquor license does not restrict where breweries can open, but they generally must be located in commercial areas and not residential neighborhoods, he said. The village board also will consider granting each license when applications are submitted.
The annual fee for a license would cost an interested brewery, winery and distillery $2,500 total, according to the ordinance. Other requirements for the new license are similar to existing liquor regulations.
Barrington requires people serving alcohol to receive training under standards set by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, Lawler said. The state training program, commonly known as BASSET, educates sellers and servers to identify signs of customer intoxication and intervention methods.
The training also includes lessons on how to prevent underage sales and underage drinking, along with educating owners and employees on insurance, local ordinances and state laws on alcohol service, according to the Illinois Liquor Control Commission website.
Village officials made similar licensing moves when another business trend involving alcohol happened in Barrington about three years ago, Lawler said. The local Jewel and Heinen's grocery stores both wanted to serve customers beer and wine while they shopped, he recalled.
"They both have licenses now," he said. "They came to us for them."
firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @tshields19
June 16, 2016
City to consider ending business license tax
Tallahassee Democrat; www.tallahassee.com
By Sean Rossman, Democrat staff writer
The Tallahassee City Commission will discuss whether to revoke the Business License Tax during this year's budget negotiations.
The tax, a levy paid each year by about 12,000 city businesses when they renew their business licenses, generates nearly $2 million each year for the city's General Fund.
The Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce's Business Advocacy Committee voted to ask the city to repeal the tax during its 2016-17 budget negotiations. The committee's chairman, NAI Talcor president Ed Murray, made the recommendation in a June 3 letter to City Manager Rick Fernandez.
Fernandez said city staff is asking the commission to discuss the Chamber's request at its budget workshop on Monday and direct staff to bring back a report at the commission's July 13 budget workshop. If approved, the city would then have to determine budget cuts to account for the lost revenue.
The city's 2016-17 budget proposal said the city's effort to restore capital funding for roads and sidewalks may be affected if the city votes to repeal.
"This $1.9 million tax break for business is an important step for creating a more business-friendly environment in Tallahassee," said Chamber chairwoman Kathy Bell. "The Chamber’s mission is to be a catalyst for local business growth, we do that by advocating for policies that create a better business environment. We believe that repealing the Business License Tax does just that. We appreciate the City Manager including our recommendation in his budget proposal for fiscal year 2016-17. We look forward to the City Commission’s support of this important tax break for businesses in Tallahassee."
Contact Sean Rossman at email@example.com or follow @SeanRossman on Twitter.
June 15, 2016
San Francisco, CA
Treasurer Gives Uber And Lyft Drivers Longer To Obtain Business Licenses, Forgives Fines
BY CALEB PERSHAN
Drivers for transportation network companies like Lyft and Uber who were told, depending on whom you ask, somewhat abruptly in April that they would need to obtain business licenses, are being granted two forms of reprieve. First, they'll have more time to pay up and register with the city, and second, they'll be granted forgiveness from previously enforced fines for past non-registration. Business licenses come at a cost of $91 per year, and the penalty for working without a license is $155 per year.
“It is my duty to fairly implement the business tax regulations in San Francisco,” city treasurer José Cisneros said according to a press release. “The ongoing litigation regarding the employment status of TNC drivers has resulted in significant confusion about business registration requirements in San Francisco."
So, in consultation with City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Cisneros will allow drivers the chance to register without penalty until August 31. Drivers who already paid their penalties (and interest) will be refunded, the treasurer assures.
The Examiner, which puts that number of registrants so far at 8,000, adds that Service Employees International Union 1021 would still like to see more changes from Cisneros. Namely, they'd like it if the TNCs themselves were on the hook for footing the bill for their contractor's business licenses.
"Please force tech giants like Uber and Lyft to pay their fair share, to protect both employee-drivers and riders,” Union leadersship wrote in an open letter. “The business registration tax should be placed squarely on their shoulders—they are the San Francisco businesses.” Other entities like United Drivers and the San Francisco Bay Area Drivers Association signed on to the letter, the Examiner says.
June 14, 2016
Trimble OKs Ballard beer permits, business license
State Gazette; www.stategazette.com
By Rachel Townsend | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Trimble Board of Mayor and Alderman convened late Wednesday afternoon for a special called meeting to discuss the approval of two business licenses, as well as two beer permit applications that were submitted by local business owner Michael Ballard.
Representing Ballard at the meeting was event coordinator Alan Blankenship, who informed the board of Ballard's intentions to expand the distillery, creating a separately functioning, but adjoined, business that will be located behind the distillery's tasting room.
According to Blankenship, the business will be named 'Bootlegger Patio'. Catering for special event purposes, the business will welcome wedding receptions, live entertainment, special town events, and private parties.
Upon its opening, customers of the business will be able to bring their own liquor or beer product; however, all alcohol must be sealed upon arrival, and immediately turned over to the bartender.
"If a customer brought in a moonshine product, we would personally have their jar, with their name on it, kept behind the counter in order to properly regulate the amount of alcohol they intake," stated Blankenship.
Raising concerns over the safety of town residents, as well as the city's liability, was Alderman Bill Taylor.
"If we are having these events with people consuming alcohol, and Chief Don Curry, who is a part-time officer, possibly being off work during the time that the events may be scheduled, what authority figures will we have present to ensure that inhibited customers are acting in a safe manner? ... Would the consumption of alcohol on the premises be a liability on the city if an intoxicated customer attempted to harm another person?"
In response, Trimble Mayor Jon McFarland stated, "If they (Bootlegger's Patio) have customers who are showing signs of being overly intoxicated it is the responsibility of the business to ensure that those customers are removed from the premises.
"If Chief Curry is off work that night, we will have to call the Dyer County Sheriff's Department, but hopefully the business will be equipped to handle the situation, should one arise."
Further commenting on the discussion, Chief Curry added, "There are state regulations that say if a business has excessive complaints the city has a right to shut them down, so that is an option."
In closing, Mayor McFarland stated, "I hope it doesn't come to that, but we would not tolerate it. ... If there is an incident at the business, due to an overly intoxicated customer, then the business would be solely responsibly as state mandated."
Members of the board approved two separate motions approving the Bootlegger Patio for the receipt of both a business license and beer permit.
Members of the board also approved a business license for the Trimble Car Wash and Mini Storage, which has now swapped ownership.
In addition to the beer permit for Bootlegger Patio, Ballard also submitted an application for a permanent beer permit for the property located at 90 Parks Plaza, the site of Ballard's annual Beer Tent event.
Alderman Taylor said, "That sounds like to me that it will be at you all's (Blankenship and Ballard) discretion, and I'm not in agreeance to that. It advocates the spread of something that is against my beliefs, but I will go with the majority for sure. However, what kind of control does the city have in keeping those attending the Beer Tent from walking down the street with an open container?"
"We do have security who will be monitoring the tent and inspecting identification prior to entry. Security will also be checking to make sure that no one leaves the tent with an open container, and the entire tent is closed in. It's not visible to the public, they won't be able to see anyone drinking beers inside," replied Blankenship.
"With a permanent license, what would keep people from being able to drink there all the time?" questioned Curry.
In response, Blankenship stated, "We would only be drinking there during a special event. Michael just wanted me to ask if he could get a permanent beer license so that he wouldn't have to reapply every year. Michael does different events all over the country, having a permanent license would keep him from having to renew every time."
Members of the board agreed to table the issue of a permanent license until the June meeting, but did approve a motion for Ballard to receive a temporary beer permit for the location.
June 10, 2016
Fairbanks Assembly to review five marijuana business licenses
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner; www.newsminer.com
By Amanda Bohman, email@example.com
FAIRBANKS — The first cannabis entrepreneurs hoping to get a state license come before the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly for a public hearing and review today.
Five cultivation businesses will be evaluated: the Tanana Herb Co., Purple Quail, Alaska Cannabis Cultivators, Pakalolo Supply Co. and Rosie Creek Farm.
The hearing before the assembly is one of many regulatory hurdles that an estimated 50 hoped-for marijuana businesses in the borough will need to cross before opening their doors.
“The only real criteria are that the operation must be consistent with our zoning, and we must have non-arbitrary reasons for rejecting it,” said John Davies, presiding officer of the assembly.
The assembly, as a new local marijuana industry regulatory authority, can protest the state license applications.
Borough code offers no criteria for evaluating marijuana businesses — unlike liquor licenses where the code lists suggested criteria.
A memorandum to the assembly from Borough Attorney Rene Broker states that the Alaska Marijuana Control Board will deny licenses to companies based on a protest from a local authority unless the board finds the protest to be arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.
The assembly can also suggest conditions be placed on the businesses, according to the attorney’s memo.
The five applications under review today have been evaluated by various borough departments to confirm that the businesses comply with land use rules and are paid up on their property taxes.
Tanana Herb Co. is located at 3495 Old River Landing in Fairbanks. The applicant, Leslea Nunley, wants to turn a small apartment building and storage facility into a 1,410-square-foot indoor marijuana grow.
Purple Quail is located at 440 Skyridge Drive in Fairbanks. Deborah Hutchens and Millard Toms want to grow pot in 1,364 square feet of a two-story garage.
Branden Roybal is behind Alaska Cannabis Cultivators. His plan is to grow cannabis in 4,020 square feet of a warehouse at 2693 Arla St. in Fairbanks.
The Hollister family, led by patriarch, Cole Hollister, will operate the Pakalolo Supply Co. at 1851 Fox Ave. in Fairbanks. They are planning to have a 12,834-square-foot marijuana grow in a warehouse. They also plan to eventually open a store.
Rosie Creek Farm is an established farm at 2659 Livingston Loop in Ester. Owners Michael Emers and Joan Hornig are planning to cultivate marijuana on 6.5 acres outdoors.
Assemblyman Lance Roberts said he is preparing motions to protest all of the applications because marijuana continues to be illegal under federal law but that he also has zoning, health and safety concerns.
Roberts said assembly members, when they are sworn in, make a pledge to uphold all laws, including federal law.
“I am not against pushing back on the federal government, but not necessarily on this issue,” he said.
Roberts said that in some cases the cultivation businesses are planned to operate in housing areas.
“Some of these are in residential neighborhoods that are not zoned residentially,” he said. “I am protesting those facilities on that ground.”
Roberts is also concerned about traffic and what will happen with waste products from the cultivation facilities.
“I think there is going to be a real danger from the leftovers,” he said.
Also today, the state Marijuana Control Board will meet to consider several state licenses for cultivation businesses, including the five that are coming to the Borough Assembly.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.
June 9, 2016
San Francisco, CA
City’s Uber, Lyft drivers paying more than $600 in late fees for $91 business license
The San Francisco Examiner; www.sfexaminer.com
By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez
Many Uber and Lyft drivers unexpectedly owe San Francisco more than $700 in late business fees, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.
At first, the fees were expected to be minimal.
More than 37,000 Uber and Lyft drivers in San Francisco grumbled when they first heard The City would require them to pay an annual $91 business license fee in April, the first time it was announced.
Now those same drivers are crying foul as those fees are skyrocketing for some who registered with the San Francisco Treasurer and Tax Collector’s Office.
Dan Carrigan, a 54-year old Uber and Lyft driver, told the Examiner his fees hit $780.
“It absolutely makes me rethink driving,” he said. “It’s really a deal killer.”
Carrigan showed the Examiner his digital bill from the treasurer’s office, which showed charges for four separate amounts, three of which totaled to about $250. Carrigan was told much of this was for penalties, interest and administrative fees levied for previous years he did not have a business license.
He’s not alone. Daniel Blagaila, another ride-hail driver, showed the Examiner his fee for his business license: $610, all told.
Lyft and Uber have long maintained their drivers are independent contractors — not employees — but the license fee may show one pitfall of that status, drivers said. It seems any Uber or Lyft driver who’s been on the road more than a year may owe these late penalties.
Amanda Kahn Fried, spokesperson for the treasurer’s office, said similar letters requiring business licenses were sent to 37,000 drivers.
“Any business that does not register timely (within 30 days of the start date) are assessed penalties and interest,” she wrote in an email to the Examiner.
If a business started in August 2014, but registered in May 2016, they’d be assessed the registration fee, plus penalties and interest for fiscal years 2014-15 and 2015-16, she wrote.
Doug Bloch represents the Teamster Joint Council 7, which has recently started organizing Uber and Lyft drivers around issues like these, with meetings all over the Bay Area.
“Our goal, the most important thing for the Teamsters, is to make sure the drivers have a voice in this process,” Bloch said, and, “we’re hearing consistently from drivers that they don’t mind paying the annual fee going forward, but they can’t afford it going back.”
The teamsters have heard from nearly a hundred drivers in the last few weeks, and this is “the number one issue,” Bloch said, adding, “we’d like to see these penalties erased.”
Shortly after the news was announced, Lyft sent a message to its drivers saying, “We feel the same way you do: The $91 licensing fee is an undue financial strain on drivers — especially in a city with a high cost of living — and goes against the flexibility we’ve fought for you to enjoy.”
Another Uber and Lyft driver, Gene Chamson, told the Examiner that Bay Area drivers cannot avoid driving in San Francisco — even if they want to.
“We’re expected to commit to do the ride, without knowing where the ride goes,” he said, as most ride-hail apps don’t show a passenger’s destination until they enter the vehicle.
He mostly drives in Oakland and Berkeley anyhow. But if he cancels ride offers on the Uber app, or tells riders he cannot go to San Francisco, he risks low ratings — and possible termination.
And multiple drivers told the Examiner they fear these fees, which are also in San Jose, spreading to other Bay Area cities.
Chamson is also building his own small business in addition to his ride-hail driving, which makes him similar to the poster-child of part time drivers for Uber and Lyft.
“The model works for part time driving,” Chamson said, “but not if you have to pay these license fees.”
June 6, 2016
Sophia Pet Center closed due to lack of business license
By Cody Neff | Register-Herald Reporter
As little yellow puppies romped around and rolled on top of each other, they were completely oblivious to the tensions boiling a few feet away.
At the Sophia Pet Center, people were gathered outside the store Friday, peeking through the windows as they demanded answers.
“When is the owner going to be back?” Meagan Edwards asked.
“Those puppies are dirty and you can see how sick they are. I don’t think they even have any water. I know no one has been back here since 10 this morning because I’ve been here that long, Edwards added.”
Edwards was just one of the people looking for Jeffrey Kirshner so they could ask him about the conditions of the pet store.
Since it opened, there have been more than 20 complaints about Sophia Pet Center, Sophia Police said.
“And we’ve investigated every one of them,” Lt. Brandon McMillion said.
“I’m contacting prosecutors now to see if any laws have been broken,” McMillion added.
The law on animal neglect can be complicated, just like any law, McMillion said.
“The law looks at three things,” he said. “As long as an animal has food, water and shelter, then the animal is usually fine in the eyes of the law.”
Edwards said the police don’t care about the puppies and other critters living in the shop.
“I know that I’m going to keep calling and complaining until someone does something,” she said. “I might have to do something myself.”
The pet store was shut down Thursday, not because of the complaints, but because it does not have a valid business license.
“The business partner pulled their license because he found out about everything that was being said on social media,” Lt. McMillion said. “He didn’t want that reflected on his name, so he gave us a written statement requesting to pull the license.”
Police have the building’s owners on standby in case they do need to get in and help the animals, but for now, Kirshner gets to keep the animals because they are fed, watered and have a roof over them.
Kirshner could not be reached for comment on Friday.
— Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow on Twitter: @RHCodyNeff
June 3, 2016
Sheffield council approves special events liquor license for concert
By Russ Corey | Staff Writer
SHEFFIELD -- City Council members Tuesday unanimously approved a special events liquor license for a June 4 concert at Riverfront Park.
The "Rock on the River" festival is a benefit for the United Way of Northwest Alabama's 211 assistance information referral call center.
Councilman Steve Nix was unable to attend Tuesday's meeting.
The permit allows a vendor to sell beer for one day inside a designated around around the festival.
email@example.com or 256-740-5738 | Twitter: @TD_.RussCorey
June 2, 2016
City Will Accept Downtown Liquor License Applications In June
K2 Radio; www.k2radio.com
By Tom Morton
The City of Casper will be accepting applications in June for a retail liquor license with several restrictions, according to a news release from the city manager’s office Tuesday.
It will be limited to the downtown area, it will be assigned to a location, and it will not be transferred from this location.
The City Council will make the final determination on which application will move forward. Applications will be accepted from June 1, 2016, through June 30, 2016. Completed applications with all required attachments will be accepted at the Customer Service Department located at 200 N. David St., Suite 105. Partial or incomplete applications will not be accepted.
The applications must contain this information:
The business plan should include, but is not limited to these criteria:
Filing forms are available at the city’s website and at City Hall.
For more information, call the city at (307) 235-8400.
May 26, 2016
Police catch massive Williamsburg club selling booze with no license
Brooklyn Paper; www.brooklynpaper.com
BY LAUREN GILL | Brooklyn Paper
A dry summer is in the forecast for this Williamsburg club.
Police caught massive pop-up nightclub the Brooklyn Mirage serving alcohol without a liquor license at its first event of the season on Saturday night, just six months after its organizer tried to hold a rave in a toxic Greenpoint factory — and authorities say the company’s latest irresponsible stunt could cost it the chance to ever serve booze again.
“Selling without a permit would absolutely have a negative impact on any future applications for permits or for liquor licenses,” said State Liquor Authority spokesman William Crowley.
The club’s creator City Fox infamously planned a Halloween bash inside the old NuHart Plastics building — a Superfund cleanup site with dangerous chemicals but no sprinkler system — last year, before firefighters pulled the plug at the last minute.
This time, cops let the event continue, but confiscated all the booze at the discotheque — a 6,000-person outdoor venue in an industrial lot at Stewart Avenue and Meserole Street where City Fox plans to hold events all summer — and issued the company with a summons for unlicensed sale of alcohol, according to a Police Department spokesman.
Crowley said the liquor authority hasn’t received any license applications for the site, though Greenpoint watering hole One Stop Beer Shop — which ran the bar at Brooklyn Mirage’s 2015 iteration on Scott Avenue and Randolph Street — unsuccessfully applied for “special-event” permits to serve at 10 of the club’s planned parties, including Saturday’s.
The authority rejected the application on May 13, writing in its response that a self-described “three-month pop-up club” is not what catering permits are for, and admitting that it shouldn’t have issued them for last year’s Mirage, either.
One Stop Beer Shop also successfully scored a special-event permit for the NuHart rave — a fact that local residents and pols were livid about when they finally learned of the party, as those licenses don’t require any community consultation.
Organizers did take the first step in applying for a liquor license earlier this month, appearing at a Community Board 1 meeting on May 11 and asking for its blessing.
But members — who have previously griped about last year’s Mirage for being loud and unruly — told them their application was too vague, and to come back for its liquor license committee’s meeting on May 24 with more details, according to a DNA Info report.
Police weren’t the only ones peeved by Saturday’s speakeasy — attendees, who paid $70 a ticket for entry, lambasted City Fox on social media for failing to let them know they’d have to boogie into the wee hours without booze.
“No indoor space, no alcohol, and no warning that this would be the case,” Celeste-OJ wrote on the event’s Facebook page. “It’s unacceptable when you pay $76.”
But others weren’t so put out — several claimed security staff turned a blind eye to them smuggling their own rotgut inside.
“They were pretty good about not checking anything at all,” wrote Matt Sanchez. “Walked in with a full bottle and a flask with no issues whatsoever.”
City Fox and One Stop Beer Shop did not return requests for comment by press time.
Reach reporter Lauren Gill at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
May 20, 2016
North Olmsted, OH
City council approves legislation regulating food trucks in North Olmsted
By Beth Mlady, Special to cleveland.com
NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio -- At its Tuesday meeting, city council members passed unanimously legislation that regulates mobile food vendors in North Olmsted.
The intent of the law, as stated previously by Law Director Michael Gareau Jr. during discussions in March, is not to be prohibitive in nature but to institute proactive measures to ensure regulatory consistency. Chapter 735, Food Trucks, of the city business regulation code has been created to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations.
Requirements for mobile food vendors wanting to do business in North Olmsted include having a duly licensed vehicle and trailer; a current, clearly displayed Mobile Food Vending License, as issued by the Cuyahoga County Board of Health; availability for inspection by the fire department while operating; adherence to local and state fire code regulations; and sales of food and/or non-alcoholic beverages only.
"Simply put, food trucks must be licensed by the state of Ohio and have a license issued by the county board of health," said Councilman Paul Schumann, chairman of the building, zoning and development committee, when the legislation received its second public reading before city council May 4. "Food trucks ... must keep the area near them clean. No loud speakers, no alcohol and no operation in the public right of way. Ice cream trucks are excluded from this legislation."
A city permit will be required, but there will not be a "significant" fee, he said. Additionally, the ordinance indicates food truck vendors may not operate on public property, including public parks, unless receiving written permission from the city's director of public service. Any food truck parked within 250 feet of a residence may not operate between 10 p.m. and 7:30 a.m.
Anyone who violates the ordinance would be guilty of a fourth degree misdemeanor.
May 19, 2016
Kane County, Illinois
Liquor license denied for new restaurant at former Al Capone's Hideaway
Chicago Tribune; www.chicagotribune.com
By Gloria Casas | Elgin Courier-News
County liquor commissioners denied a liquor license application filed by a businessman wanting to open a new restaurant at the former Al Capone's Hideaway and Steakhouse in unincorporated Kane County.
"I remember the old Hideaway. I miss it. This is not the Hideaway we remember," said liquor control Commissioner Mark Davoust of a restaurant, named Hideaway 64, proposed by Jeremy Casiello and his family. "It shares similarities in name only."
Davoust, who was appointed to the commission last week replacing Commissioner Myrna Molina, said he was concerned about public safety and health in voting "no." He also voted "no" last fall to a request for special zoning of the property, which was approved by the County Board. Commissioners Deborah Allan and Joe Haimann also voted "no" along with Chairman Chris Lauzen.
"I feel for them (the Casiello family) because they labored mightily to get this far," Davoust said. "I hate to say 'no' to small businesses and entrepreneurs. ... But this is the wrong place for it."
The Casiello family owns Alley 64 in St. Charles and the Dam Bar in Geneva. Phone calls seeking comment from the family were not returned Wednesday.
Jeremy Casiello — who worked to address neighbors' concerns during the zoning process — had told liquor commissioners that the family needed to secure a liquor license before investing further into the property, including replacing a septic sewer.
Liquor control commissioners brought the meeting to the neighborhood where Hideaway 64 is planned.
"We are here to listen to what your preferences are," Lauzen told the crowd that gathered for the meeting at Valley View Baptist Church on Route 25 in St. Charles. "We do make house calls."
Neighbors raised similar concerns Wednesday that were discussed during last fall's zoning meetings. Those issues included the area's winding roads, worries about drunk drivers, a lack of sidewalks, and noise. Lauzen said the commission was there to weigh whether or not to grant a liquor license and determine if there were any public safety or health issues.
Robert Roach has been a resident in the neighborhood since 1952. He said the roads in the neighborhood are narrow, and there are no sidewalks. He recalls having to pick up beer bottles before mowing his lawn when the old Capone's was open, he said. The litter has stopped since it closed down, he said. He also recalled the time a car ended up overturned in his front yard. He doesn't want to see that happen again, he said.
"I am totally against the liquor license," Roach said.
Alma Leonard said she doesn't let her children play in the front yard because she worries about drivers blowing through the stop sign near her home. She wonders what it will be like if people are driving after drinking at the restaurant. "I am afraid not only for my kids but other kids," she said.
"Some people are gonna like it and some aren't no matter what you are going to decide," Charles Bowling said. "If it's up to me, I am happier when it was closed than when it was open. But I'm just one person."
Commissioners also heard from people who wanted the county to give Hideaway 64 a liquor license.
Leo Murphy said he enjoyed the old Hideaway and never saw any alcohol-related problems with the restaurant. He said he felt the new owners have experience in the restaurant business and in handling liquor sales and hoped the commission granted the license.
"I feel very safe and comfortable with the reopening of the Hideaway," said T.J. Seiffert, who has lived in the neighborhood for 10 years and has a young child. "I respect everyone's opinions here, but I think many of them are extreme. This area needs a shot in the arm, not a shovel in the grave."
Later, he said the new restaurant would be a benefit to the neighborhood and a place where families could get a burger. "It's not like it would be a nightclub in downtown Chicago," he said.
Liquor Control Commission coordinator Barbara Garza said the commission's decision is final and cannot be appealed. However, businesses can reapply for the license at any time, she said.
Gloria Casas is a freelance reporter for The Courier-News.
May 18, 2016
Las Vegas, NV
Unlicensed auto shops get fined by investigators
KSNV News3LV; www.news3lv.com
BY CHRISTY WILCOX
LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) — The Department of Motor Vehicles cracked down on car dealers, auto body, and repair shops that were doing business unlicensed.
A group of DMV investigators was out in the Las Vegas valley to make surprise visits on Tuesday.
Investigators wrote 40 citations and shut down shops in the area that cost violators from $500 to $1500 depending on the violation.
Compliance officers said this helps to eliminate businesses that are taking advantage of customers.
"They'll take your money, do shoddy work, then pack up and leave," said DMV spokesperson, Kevin Malone.
Malone said they received complaints after some businesses leave customers in a bad situation.
The operation is called DMV "Impact Day" and officers hope to prevent people from ending up at a shop that can pack up and leave if they are unlicensed.
"With a licensed business you do have some recourse, they have to place a bond, and they have to have a fixed place of business," said Malone.
DMV compliance investigator, Lori Billingsley said in some cases, businesses fail to renew their license while others never attempt to obtain a license at all.
During Tuesday's enforcement operation, investigators found two new businesses, operating illegally, in a location where they were actually looking for another auto shop that had formal complaints from customers of the shop.
The shop investigators were looking for had left the location, opening up the building for two other businesses.
One of the new shop owners admits he had county and state licenses but wasn't aware he needed one through the DMV.
"Tomorrow I have to go to the DMV to get my license to start working again and pay the penalty," said one shop owner.
The DMV said getting incompliant businesses on a level playing field isn't always simple.
They found one business under the named "TKO Kustomz" who was given a cease and desist order in January. Tuesday's sting operation caught the owner off guard. Compliance issued two fines, one for operating without a license through DMV and another for not having any county or state license.
"Some people say thank you for the citation and others are not very happy, but they do realize ultimately they can either request a hearing or pay the citation," said Lori Billingsley.
May 17, 2016
City could restrict new liquor license to downtown area
Casper Star Tribute; www.trib.com
By Hunter Woodall | 307-266-0634, Hunter.Woodall@trib.com
There’s another liquor license available in Casper, and city officials are hoping it will help improve the downtown.
At a work session Tuesday afternoon, city staff members are set to recommend to Casper’s City Council that the retail liquor license have transfer and location restrictions to keep it near the city’s core. This would then help the city accomplish a goal “of fostering growth and prosperity” downtown, according to a city memo.
The city was given an additional retail liquor license after a 2015 revision of Casper’s population, according to city documents.
This wouldn’t be the first time that the city has restricted a license to help foster growth. In 2014, a license was restricted to 319 W. Midwest Ave., near the site of Art 321. The store using the license, Urban Bottle Wine and Spirits, is expected to help bring more visitors to the Old Yellowstone District. Along with Art 321, the store will be paired with Racca’s Pizzeria Napoletana, an acclaimed restaurant expected to open in Casper later this year. Racca’s was given a bar and grill license in September 2015, according to city documents.
Lynette Boatright, one of Urban Bottle’s owners, said she can understand how restricting a liquor license to a specific area can help push growth and clean up blighted or underused areas.
“To foster growth, they want to see restaurants, they want to see a reason for people to come down to that area,” she said. “I think what starts out a lot of growth is a restaurant, or a bar, or it’s going to bring other retail down there too.”
The string of shops also sits minutes from two developing projects: the civic auditorium at the old Iris movie theater and the David Street Station public plaza. City officials have said that the new attractions are major players in the downtown area’s future. Along with these projects, there’s also the new state office building that officials say will be built at the Goodstein lot, with a new parking lot nearby.
“They’re seeing this growth happen,” Boatright said. “They want to promote more for businesses to set up shop down there.”
Assistant city manager Tracey Belser said restricting Urban Bottle’s location helped bring energy to the Old Yellowstone District.
There are 37 retail liquor licenses in Casper, according to the city. Four of those licenses have been issued to someone but are not being used.
There will be an open application for the new license. The city is recommending that Casper accept applications for 30 days. After that deadline, the City Council will decide who wins the new license.
“I think the interest would be high,” Belser said. “Because it is something of interest, I think, for people who are looking for an opportunity. You know, and there’s not a lot of retail liquor licenses available.”
Follow local government reporter Hunter Woodall on Twitter @huntermw.
May 13, 2016
Beaufort will charge some nonprofit organizations business fees
The Beaufort Gazette; www.islandpacket.com
BY STEPHEN FASTENAU | email@example.com
Beaufort will charge fees to nonprofit organizations with operations competing with other businesses, keeping tabs on them through required registration.
City leaders say the new rules are an issue of fairness. Churches renting apartments or operating day cares open to the public and private medical practices now associated with Beaufort Memorial Hospital are among tax-exempt organizations in the crosshairs.
Beaufort Memorial has more than $45 million in private contracts, Mayor Billy Keyserling said Tuesday. The hospital wouldn’t necessarily be charged the new business license fee, he said, but the individual contractors could be.
“It’s protection for businesses to make sure they’re not getting subsidized competition, I think is the way to put it,” Mayor Billy Keyserling said Tuesday.
The new rules passed unanimously in a City Council vote Tuesday. In another change approved Tuesday, all businesses, including nonprofits, will be required to register with the city.
The new license fee will be in effect next January, city manager Bill Prokop said. Until then, the city will try to reach out to affected businesses and explain the new rules.
The registration doesn’t mean all nonprofits will be charged a business license fee, Keyserling said. The registration will allow the city to hold nonprofit organizations to the same operating standards as regular businesses, he said.
It will also give the city a list of nonprofits to inspect for income subject to the new fee.
Business license fees for nonprofit groups will only apply to the money made from operations competing with for-profit businesses.
A church day care facility open only to church members, for example, would not be charged. A nonprofit organization renting houses, apartments or commercial property to the public would be charged.
The city’s rules are the same the Internal Revenue Service uses on nonprofit businesses reporting “unrelated income,” city finance director Kathy Todd said.
Beaufort leaders met with executives from Beaufort Memorial Hospital in preparing to implement the new rules, where they learned about the millions in private contracts. Private practices have been brought under the hospital’s wing, with some paying taxes and some not, Keyserling said.
“It’s a huge nonprofit organization that has been acquiring medical practices and real estate,” he said.
On Tuesday, City Council also:
▪ Voted to allow city manager Bill Prokop to negotiate a contract to buy Sea Eagle Market on Boundary Street. The facility would be demolished as part of a plan to create a passive park along Battery Creek.
▪ Annexed 46 Robert Smalls Parkway into the city and zoned the property highway commercial. Warehouse owner Richard Martin plans to operate a business on the Spanish Moss Trail.
▪ Heard budget presentations from the city’s police, fire, courts and planning departments. The city has until the end of June to pass its next budget.
Stephen Fastenau: 843-706-8182, @IPBG_Stephen
May 11, 2016
Liquor license debate revs up in City Council
Wyoming Tribune Eagle; www.wyomingnews.com
By James Chilton | Wyoming Tribune Eagle
CHEYENNE – The age-old debate of whether Cheyenne should grant liquor licenses to retail “big box” stores entered its newest chapter on Monday evening before the City Council.
The Cheyenne Sam’s Club at 1948 Dell Range Blvd. has recently negotiated the purchase of a retail liquor license from Tom Kingham of Cloud 9 Liquorland, which is located just a few hundred feet away. It will fall to the City Council to approve the actual transfer of the license, and Monday the council held a public meeting to take input on the idea.
And, as has been the case with previous proposed transfers to large supermarkets, several local liquor store representatives turned out to voice their opposition to the deal.
If the transfer were to go through, Sam’s Club is proposing building an 1,800-square foot “liquor box” within the existing store. As described, the liquor box would be its own separate section of the store, and any alcohol purchases could only be made there.
Sam’s Club officials made their case for why the transfer made sense: they did not foresee any disruption to surrounding residents, given that Cloud 9 is already operating in essentially the same location. Further, they said that, as one of the foremost retailers in the country, Sam’s Club has well-established guidelines for screening the age of anyone who attempts to purchase alcohol.
Store manager Cody Nelson added that the transfer would provide a direct benefit to store customers, as the top question they ask him is why they can’t currently buy beer, wine or spirits at the club.
“We’re looking for convenience, where customers grab a few groceries and make their way into the liquor box,” Nelson said. “We’re not trying to go after a lot of different (brands). We’d be going after the top (selling) items in beer, wine and liquor.”
Nelson added that, with most dedicated liquor stores taking up 2,500 to 20,000 square feet, the Sam’s Club liquor box would be among the smallest in the city. Caleb Perkins, the Sam’s Club manager in Casper, also spoke, describing how the Casper store’s liquor license has not negatively impacted any of the dedicated liquor stores in his city.
“We’re there for the convenience, one-stop shopping,” Perkins said. “We don’t have that giant selection you’re going to see elsewhere.”
Deborah Herron, a regional governmental affairs representative for Sam’s Club, said she believed a liquor license would allow the Cheyenne store to generate additional sales tax revenue for the city from regular customers and club members passing through the area.
“We know how much it means to the city to have additional revenues and a responsible retailer in the market,” Herron said. “This gives us the opportunity to coexist with existing liquor store owners.”
Kingham also made his own case for the liquor license transfer, noting that in the five years he has owned Cloud 9 Liquorland, he’s catered to countless customers coming from the nearby Sam’s Club who might just as easily have bought their liquor there, if only they could.
“Somebody will come into Cloud 9, they’d just been at Sam’s or (the adjacent) Wal-Mart, and say ‘I can’t believe the only place to get liquor in Wyoming is at a liquor store,’” Kingham said. “And I’ve had to tell them, ‘If you go to Laramie, Rock Springs, Rawlins, Evanston, you can get it in a big box store, you just can’t get it here.’”
But other established liquor store owners were not so sympathetic to Sam’s Club’s cause. They argued that approving the transfer of a liquor license to a corporate entity like Sam’s Club would be tantamount to opening “Pandora’s box,” given that the number of municipal liquor licenses is limited by state law.
“It opens the door to convenience stores, grocery stores ... and once those (retail liquor licenses) are gone, we’re never getting them back,” said Kevin Georges of DT’s Liquor. “What we need to think about is the economic development of our city, what is going to bring future businesses, families into our communities. Having a liquor license in a big box store isn’t going to bring that in.”
Rather, Georges said the limited number of liquor licenses should instead go to independent retailers, restaurants, breweries and bars.
Georges was also critical of the claim that a Sam’s Club liquor license would generate significant new sales tax revenues. Rather, Georges said those revenues would instead come from stores like his.
“They wouldn’t create more (revenue), they would just move it from one entity to another entity,” he said.
John O’Grady of the Peppermill Bar also spoke in opposition to the transfer. Before coming to Cheyenne, O’Grady said he had lived in Rawlins, where he said big box stores had managed to drive several liquor stores out of business by undercutting prices, despite assurances from Perkins that Sam’s Club pricing would be “very similar to other retailers in the market.”
“You can’t compete with a box store,” O’Grady said. “We (local liquor store owners) live in this community, we support the community, we donate to the community. This is where our taxes stay. But we cannot compete with a big box store.”
With the public meeting concluded, the liquor license transfer will now go before the City Council Finance Committee, where members will take further public testimony on Monday.
May 9, 2016
Pittsfield city councilors, others object to tobacco sales cap regulations
The Berkshire Eagle; www.berkshireeagle.com
By Jim Therrien | firstname.lastname@example.org | @BE_therrien on Twitter
PITTSFIELD — Two city councilors and a Cumberland Farms representative strongly objected Wednesday to the Board of Health's cap on new tobacco sales licenses in Pittsfield during a hearing on further regulatory changes the board is considering.
The discussion sets up an expected debate at the council's meeting Tuesday, when the health board will attend to discuss the license cap and other tobacco regulations.
"I am very concerned about the cap on permits," said Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell, who also objected to the regulation during prior meetings concerning a request for a new convenience store permit, which was denied.
He questioned why the board has set a long-term cap goal of 25 sales permits, which would mean a slow reduction of the current 51, while the city of North Adams is considering a cap of 23 permits with a much smaller city population.
The "lofty" cap goal would only be reached, board members have said, when businesses close and licenses are surrendered with being transferred — that has yet to occur since the cap was enacted.
Connell asked whether there are statistics showing a decline in smoking in Pittsfield after the board several years ago banned tobacco sales in pharmacies, which he said would provide more of a rationale for a further permit reduction. The councilor said he hopes health officials can provide those figures when the board meets with the council.
The board has cited a higher than average number of sales outlets in Pittsfield, along with high adult and youth smoking rates in the county for the cap, which was put into effect in 2014. Board member Jay Green also noted at Wednesday's hearing that the permit total has not, in fact, declined since then, and the regulations allow for a new owner to obtain a license for a store than has been operating.
In fact, Green said, the revisions now being considered by the board include language changes designed to clarify exactly how a new business owner can receive such a transferred license. He said the board has shown flexibility in dealing with businesses seeking permit transfers — actually a surrender of the license and issuance of a new one by the Health Department.
Connell and Councilor at large Melissa Mazzeo, who also attended the prior board meeting, argued that if addressing youth smoking was a prime goal of health officials, raising the legal age to purchase from 18 to 21 — which is in the new regulation proposal — would affect that more than a permit cap.
Both councilors said they support raising the legal age to 21.
The proposed changes, which the board tabled for further consideration at their next monthly meeting, also include a ban on most flavored tobacco products. The board is expected to further define those products in a draft set of changes, which has been posted on the city website.
"I really think it is important that we have a lot more dialogue before you put this in place," Mazzeo said, saying she believes a discussion during the council session will be more widely noticed than the health board hearings that have led to regulatory changes over the past two years.
She said she favors "a moratorium on regulations," until there is more widespread agreement on the changes.
"I think the word 'reasonable' is where we need to have a conversation," Mazzeo said, adding that the city is facing a tough budget season and is anxious to increase economic activity in Pittsfield.
Connell termed the effective ban on any more sales licenses "a barrier to growth for one industry [convenience stores]," which he urged the board to lift.
Also speaking during the hearing was Chad LaCasse, manager at the Cumberland Farms store on First Street, which is in the process of being replaced by the chain with a new, larger store.
LaCasse said Cumberland Farms would consider opening one or two more stores in Pittsfield, but not without a tobacco sales permit, which he said remains necessary to a convenience store's survival.
The chain has emphasized other products over the years and attempted to move away from tobacco sales, he said, "but in the interim, we need tobacco," which LaCasse noted was a legal product.
Without a license, "it would be impossible to develop another store in Pittsfield," he said.
Board Chairwoman Roberta "Bobbi" Orsi said at the conclusion of the hearing, "I think the board has had this conversation for hours and hours and hours," and "done lots of due diligence" on the issue of restricting access to tobacco products.
"If we need to see more tobacco to generate economic activity, then I think we have more problems as a community," Orsi said.
She said she will be attending the council session Tuesday.
Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.
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 email@example.com. On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.
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."
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.