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July 6, 2015
Jackson County, OR
Jackson Co. issues $600 citation to non-compliant dispensary

Jackson County, Ore. -- A dispensary in Jackson County is currently operating without a necessary land use permit and now they're paying for it.

On Tuesday, Jackson County Code Enforcement officials gave Pharm to Table a $600 citation. Pharm to Table is a medical marijuana dispensary located in the 3500 block of South Pacific Highway.

"They issued us a $600 citation a few days ago for being out of compliance for their land use permits that they're in the process of adopting," said Jason Rott, the Owner and Administrator of Pharm to Table.

Kelly Madding, the Jackson County Development Services Director, said the citation was issued because the dispensary doesn't have the land use permit that's needed to operate lawfully.

In addition, at this point dispensaries haven't been given the green light yet in Jackson County.

"Jackson County's ordinance to allow medical marijuana facilities does not take effect until July 26th," said Madding.

Until then, if Pharm to Table stays open, Madding said the county will continue to cite the business $200 for every day they're open.

"Ideally they would cease to operate but if they don't, what will happen is we have the ability to cite them up to $200 a day, no more than $10,000," explained Madding.

Rott said he intends to keep his business open until he can apply for a permit through the county later this month. He said he assumed the county would be ready to allow dispensaries after May 1st. That's the date local governments' bans on dispensaries in the state expired. However when that date came and went and the county still had yet to finalize their plans, Rott took the plunge.

"We did take that risk once we got our state license to go ahead and open up," said Rott.

Rott said the decision to open without the county land use permit was a business decision. However now, he said his decision to stay open is based largely on his medical marijuana patients who rely on the dispensary for their medicine. Rott also wants to keep his workers employed. But staying open will likely cost him thousands of dollars.

"It is the cost of doing business," Rott said.

Rott has already paid for the $600 citation issued this week.

The fines will stop once Rott submits an application to get a permit after Jackson County's ordinance takes effect.

"We'll hopefully be ready to go and get that land use permit that we need," Rott said.

Rott has hired land use consultants and said they are trying to rectify the situation.

He said he's working closely with the county to become compliant.

Starting Monday, July 27th people will be able to apply for permits to open dispensaries in Jackson County.

It will cost $3,865 to get the proper, Type 3, land use permit.

County officials said the application process, from start to finish will likely take just under three months to complete. Though it's possible if a dispensary is denied a permit, there could be appeals.

People can begin applying at 10 South Oakdale when doors open at 8 o'clock in the morning on July 27th.

Madding said she expects there will probably be a line.

According to Madding, Jackson County's ordinance include the following rules:

- Medical marijuana dispensaries can't be any close than a half mile to each other.

- Dispensaries cannot be within a mile of the VA Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics (SORCC) in White City.

- They can be no less than a thousand feet from a school.

- Medical marijuana dispensaries can also be no less than 250 feet from a park.

http://kobi5.com/news/item/jackson-co-issues-600-citation-to-non-compliant-dispensary.html#.VZqucvlVjrx More...

June 30, 2015
Phoenix, AZ
30 unlicensed contractors hammered in AZ sting

A statewide crackdown targeting unlicensed contractors has resulted in nine arrests, including two people on the Arizona Registrar of Contractors “Top Most Wanted List.”

Five more workers were slapped with civil and criminal citations and 16 others who advertised without a license on Craisglist were issued warnings.

Several other people believed to have been contracting or advertising without a license remain under investigation.

The Arizona Registrar of Contractors, along with law enforcement officers from four counties, employed several tools of their own - used sting houses, targeted sweeps and proactive operations in an attempt to curb unlicensed activity in the state.

In Maricopa County, three men were arrested Tuesday, June 23, after Phoenix police set up a sting house in the 3600 block of N. 45th Pl. in Phoenix. The three men possessed outstanding warrants, were arrested and transported to Maricopa County Jail.

Derek Garcia, 22, of Goodyear, met with undercover agents at the sting house, provided an estimate of $4,800 to perform landscaping work without a license and possessed a Class 3 felony warrant.

Gregory Link, 46, of Mesa, arrived at the sting house, provided an estimate of $1,875 to install tile within the home and possessed one felony warrant and four active misdemeanor warrants, one of which was for contracting without a license.

Charles Rattigan, 49, of Gilbert, toured the sting house, provided an estimate of $2,000 to paint the interior of the home and possessed three misdemeanor warrants, one of which was for contracting without a license.

Also in Maricopa County, AZ ROC worked with officers from the Phoenix and Surprise police departments and arrested two of the “Top Most Wanted” by AZ ROC - Ismael Romero, 50, of Waddell, and John Parks, 25, of Gilbert.

On June 18, Surprise police arrested Romero after he was found to have four outstanding warrants, including engaging in contracting without a license, for a total bond of $17,200.

Romero was taken to Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail, where he was booked without incident. AZ ROC wanted Romero for contracting and advertising without a license. ROS investigators said he performs poor work, is known to take money and abandon a job without work being done and has a history of nine prior complaints with the ROC.

On Thursday, Parks was arrested after meeting with his probation officer. On Monday, Parks was indicted on charges of fraudulent schemes, theft and contracting without a license. He is being held at the Maricopa County Jail on a $10,000 bond and a hold due to a probation violation.

The charges were filed following a three-month investigation into Parks' alleged scamming of an 86-year-old woman out of $26,000 over several months. ROC investigators said Parks was reportedly making minor repairs to her roof. The estimated cost to replace the woman's entire roof is $4,000, ROC said. At the time of his arrest, Parks possessed heroin, investigators said.

In Cochise County, a sting operation was conducted in the Sierra Vista area. Charges are pending against three people. It's too early in the investigation to release any identities. The Cochise County Sheriff's Office and the Huachuca City Police Department were assisting AZ ROC with the investigations.

In Pima County, the Sheriff's Department there arrested three people. Kevin Bennett, 47, of Tucson, was taken into custody on various charges, including an AZ ROC warrant for failure to appear. Two other people, both from Tucson, were arrested on a warrant for contracting without a license. They are Michael Gail, 35, and Guadalupe Lopez, 47.

In Yuma County, the Yuma County Sheriff's Office and City of Yuma Police Department set up sting houses in the 8700 block of S. Avenue "D," 11000 block of S. Paula Avenue and 2200 block of E. 27th Lane. It resulted in the issuances of criminal and civil citations of five men and arrest of one man.

Francisco Avalos, 42, of Yuma, was identified as a sting target. He was located and arrested by the Yuma Police Department on a charge of a failure to appear warrant related to previously contracting without a license.

The other five men - Thomas Lujan, Fernando Marquez, Adolfo Ramos, Lance Savard, and Abraham Sevilla - arrived at one of the three sting house locations and provided estimates for work ranging from $1,500 to $26,000 for pool decks, cabinets and even a detached building. Each person was cited for contracting without a license.

http://www.azfamily.com/story/29442576/30-unlicensed-contractors-hammered-in-az-sting More...

June 30, 2015
Hollister, CA
Tobacco sales ban in pharmacies formally approved

Hollister City Council votes 4-1 to cease the issuance or re-issuance of tobacco retail licenses, which eventually will snuff out tobacco products in Hollister pharmacies.

Tobacco sales will be banned at Hollister pharmacies after the city council on June 15 voted 4-1, with Raymond Friend opposed, to approve an ordinance amendment that will halt the issuance or re-issuance of tobacco retail licenses.

The council previously heard from San Benito County Public Health Officer Dr. Anju Goel, M.D., who advocated for a ban on the sale of tobacco products, which she said will provide health benefits that will significantly outweigh the loss of revenue to pharmacies.Hollister City Manager William Avera said that since tobacco sales licenses are typically applied for in November and issued in January, local pharmacies will have six to seven months to remove tobacco products from their shelves.

The ordinance details legislative findings that will be used to advocate for the tobacco sales ban, including a 2012 study that found that 1 out of 6 adults (18 percent) in San Benito County smoke, compared to 15 percent in the state of California as a whole. "Children are particularly influenced by clues suggesting that smoking is acceptable," the report says, referencing sales of tobacco in retail establishments. "By selling tobacco products, pharmacies reinforce social perceptions of smoking, convey tacit approval of tobacco use, and send a message that it is not so dangerous to smoke."

The report notes that 78 percent of independently-owned pharmacies in the state have become tobacco free, though tobacco products are still sold in 94 percent of chain drug stores. Of the seven pharmacies in San Benito County, three do not sell tobacco and one of the four that does is reviewing that policy at the corporate level.

Hollister resident Michael Nix spoke out against the ban on tobacco sales during the public comment period, saying that while he agreed that tobacco use is not beneficial to health and well being, he is "worried about (the ordinance) setting a precedence" that could result in the ban on other retail products in the future. "This council feels that it is better suited to make personal choice than its citizens," Nix said, noting that he believed pressure on pharmacies from consumers would be a better way to encourage the cessation of tobacco sales.

Friend made no comments before his vote against the ordinance.

http://benitolink.com/tobacco-sales-ban-pharmacies-formally-approved More...

June 29, 2015
Jackson, MS
Lower permit fee for Jackson mobile food trucks

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - Call them meals on wheels, or simply food trucks. You may have seen some in the Jackson area.

These are hot ticket items in larger metro cities. Now they may flourish having to pay a one-time yearly $500.00 permit fee in the city.

It's called food on the move. The city of Jackson already has an ordinance over the food truck vendors, and now they made it a little easier for them, allowing them to move from one spot to the other and set up shop.

"We are really happy," said Councilman Tyrone Hendrix. "Yesterday we passed an ordinance to allow the food trucks here in the city of Jackson to have more access to different places."

"This allows us to roam around Jackson without having to pay a $500 food permit every time we stop," said Steve Steinbock, owner of two Tito's Taco mobile units.

These mobile food trucks are literally magnets for places like construction sites and events.

"There's no parking downtown," added Steinbock. "People typically don't want to move so this is a great concept."

Now when it comes to free enterprise competition with local restaurants, there is built in protection.

The law is we have to stay 300 feet away from any restaurant, a 360 degree radius," said Steinbock.

Steinbock owns two brightly colored trucks and he says the new ordinance is certainly helping their business. Ironically the fee charged by Jackson is not the only one required. Rolling food trucks must get permitted by a number of state and local agencies.

Our cameras were rolling when the Department of Revenue rolled up to check his permits.

How much does it cost to sell food out of the back of a truck? The fees do add up.

For instance, on top of Jackson's $500.00 permit fee yearly, The State Department of Health permit fees range from $30 up to $250.00 per year depending on what they are cooking and serving up.


June 26, 2015
Fayetteville, NC
Business privilege license requirement ending

As of July 1, businesses no longer need to purchase annual business privilege licenses in Fayetteville and many other cities and towns throughout North Carolina.

The state legislature last year voted to take the licensing away from local governments following complaints that the licenses - a means of taxing the businesses - were wildly inconsistent from city to city and even within individual cities. The licenses were as small as $10 for some businesses and hundreds, even thousands of dollars for others.

The license was a tool for keeping track of the types and locations of stores, commercial offices and other businesses. This helped with city planning, zoning and infrastructure management. It also was used as a source of revenue for city services.

Fayetteville as of early 2014 was taking in about $1.1 million from these fees.


June 26, 2015
Bolivar, MO
City adopts new method for collecting business license fees

Business owners and operators can expect to pay for their business licenses through the city a little differently going forward as the way fees collected were changed at Tuesday’s, June 23, meeting of the Board of Aldermen.

An ordinance was approved at the meeting that amended the municipal code to allow the fees of certain business licenses to be collected through the city’s Utilities Department in conjunction with water and sewer bills.

With the new collection method, the city will also be reducing the amount it collects from the fee — previously $25, the new fee will be broken down into equal installments of $2 over the course of the year.

City Administrator Darin Chappell said the new collection method could result in more revenue being collected as businesses that were previously not paying their fee will have to do so or have their utilities shut off.

He also said the city will not be paying someone as often to track down the $25 fee.

Mayor John Best said the new method for collecting fees will ensure that all Bolivar businesses are on equal ground when it comes to doing business in the city.

Under the ordinance, businesses will also have the anniversary date for renewing their licenses, a relatively automatic process under the new system, established as the month in which applied for the license, rather than a set month each year for all businesses in the city.

For businesses that do not receive a utility bill, they will continue to pay their business license fee on an annual basis.


June 24, 2015
Irvine, CA
Irvine Council Eliminates Business License Fee

The Irvine City Council Tuesday night eliminated the city’s $51 business license fee, a move that members of the council’s Republican council majority tout as standing against over-taxation by the government.

The councilman who first proposed dissolving the tax, Jeffrey Lalloway, declared it the “first time” he’s “ever heard of a city or government eliminating a tax.”

Council members voted 3-1 to undo the tax, with Mayor Steven Choi the only no vote. Councilwoman Beth Krom, who has expressed opposition to cutting the tax and is the only Democrat on council, was absent from the meeting.

Eliminating the business license fee is the latest move by the Republican council majority to steer Irvine in a more conservative direction after years of governing by a Democratic council majority.

Last month, the council repealed a living wage ordinance that requires city contractors with contracts valued at $100,000 or more to pay all their employees working in the county at a level that at least matches the lowest paid city employee.

Choi argued that slashing the business license fee would have a negligible effect on attracting businesses to Irvine while transferring a nearly $1 million burden -- the amount that the business license fee raised last fiscal year – to city residents.

At the last meeting, Lalloway’s colleagues supported eliminating the tax but not the business database program it finances, saying that it benefits city officials to know who is setting up shop in town by allowing them to make sure the businesses comply with various laws. The program costs over $600,000 to maintain.

Lalloway said the decision is Irvine’s way of making a ”major statement” to other governments to look at slashing taxes rather than adding to a “massive taxation” system.

Lalloway said that Americans in the same tax bracket as retired professional basketball star Yao Ming likely pay more in taxes than the 50 percent of personal income Ming pays to the Chinese government.

“I would hope in some way this can motivate other cities, counties, states, to look at their own internal taxing systems, and try to make it easier for the middle class,” Lalloway said.


June 24, 2015
Barnegat Township, NJ
Second-Hand Dealer Ordinance Tweaked in Barnegat

The Barnegat Township ordinance regulating second-hand dealers is being amended to exempt antiques shops and similar businesses from painstaking record-keeping of merchandise transactions. The amended ordinance was introduced at the June 8 township committee meeting.

The ordinance had been recommended by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office as a tool to stem the flow of illegal drugs, since thieves could steal items and then pawn them or sell them at second-hand stores for cash to buy narcotics.

Karen Barchi, owner of Bay Avenue Antiques in Barnegat Township, had been requesting changes since shortly after the ordinance was adopted late last year. She and other business owners met with township officials to see if revisions could be made.

Barchi started a petition drive at her store, in which she collected more than 500 signatures. The petition said the ordinance “places severe restrictions, record-keeping and reporting requirements on both businesses and individual owners of vintage items who hope to sell these legally owned and/or inherited items to local dealers in secondary market shops.”

“The scope of the definition of second-hand goods is much too broad and includes too many items that are not proven to be desirable commodities sought after by thieves,” the petition read. “Laws and reporting requirements are already in place for precious metals, scrap and pawn, which covers electronic and computer equipment.”

Barchi said the ordinance required her to take a photo of the seller, the item sold and a copy of the seller’s driver’s license. She then forwarded them to Barnegat Police Chief Arthur Drexler, who then sent them to a national database. That created a hardship because she would have had to document each individual item, on the same day they were received.

She had also requested that antiques stores be excluded, and she apparently got her wish as the ordinance also exempts flea markets/garage sales, thrift shops and consignment shops. At the time, Barchi said people looking to sells goods for drugs would not likely frequent her type of business. Dealers in jewelry, precious metals, coins, computers and electronics are still included.

In addition, the new ordinance would do away with a $1,000 bond and a $100 annual license. A $250 software maintenance fee remains.

The amended ordinance also allows dealers to photograph similar items together instead of individually.

“We needed to tweak it,” said Mayor Susan McCabe. “The business owners had some concerns, and I feel we have come up with a fair resolution.”

A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for the next meeting, on Monday, July 20, at 6:30 p.m.

“I’ll wait to make comments until then,” said Barchi.

Tony Greco, owner of Greco Jewelers and Clock Shop, said he had wished the software fee also would be eliminated.

“I’m still locked into that, and I’m sure the software company will raise that fee down the road,” he said.

http://thesandpaper.villagesoup.com/p/second-hand-dealer-ordinance-tweaked-in-barnegat/1362770 More...

June 23, 2015
Muskegon Heights, MI
Muskegon Heights passes liquor control ordinance

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, MI – Muskegon Heights has passed a city liquor control ordinance that would give it more sway over businesses with liquor licenses.

The liquor control ordinance allows the city to revoke liquor licenses for violating "state and local ordinance rules concerning health, safety, moral, conduct or public welfare," or maintaining a nuisance on the property, such as a building code violation, littering or disruptive entertainment.

The Muskegon Heights City Council on Monday, June 22 unanimously approved the ordinance.

There are 17 businesses with active liquor licenses inside the city limits, said Muskegon Heights Police Chief Lynne Gill. Three have club licenses, eight have licenses allowing them to sell hard liquor, and six have licenses to sell only beer and wine.

"Up until this point, we've had zero ordinances to control these liquor licenses," Gill said before presenting the ordinance at a committee meeting June 15.

Gill said that in Muskegon Heights and elsewhere, he's noticed some businesses selling liquor have unkempt facades, or don't pick up litter their customers leave in the street or parking lot outside.

"Those are businesses that we believe should be operating their businesses in a more community-friendly manner," he said.

If the ordinance is approved, all businesses would be entitled to a hearing with city administration, he said.

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission regulates how businesses with liquor licenses operate, but a local ordinance would be a tool for the city to contact the state commission about problem businesses. An application form -- for businesses seeking new liquor licenses or transfer their licenses -- is also up for approval by the city council.

"It's about time we did something with these liquor licenses," said Councilwoman Bonnie McGlothin.

The city has recently turned its attention on businesses – this spring it also passed an ordinance to keep businesses closed between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. That variance affected three businesses – the Chicken Coop restaurant, a Shell gas station and Odyssey nightclub.

The city later passed a partial variance for Chicken Coop, and a variance for Odyssey because it uses private security and doesn't have many police calls.

"The Muskegon Heights Police Department, we're not private security – we should not have to maintain order on private business properties," Gill said. "They should be maintaining peace on their private property."

Gill said he's also stepped up enforcement against businesses holding after-hour parties.

Councilwoman Kim Sims said that limiting business hours was "reactive."

"The situation you have at Chicken Coop and the Shell is nothing new," she said.

But now, she said, the city is trying to be proactive by tackling liquor ordinances before they become a problem.

Sims said the city would always prefer to work with a business before resulting to enforcement.

"We're looking to partner with our businesses and not go to those measures," she said.


June 22, 2015
Noblesville, IN
Noblesville to hand out new liquor licenses

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (June 22, 2015) — Selling liquor in Noblesville just got a bit easier, thanks to new licenses to be handed out downtown.

The city recently approved a new riverfront redevelopment district, in an area surrounding the White River that includes its historic downtown square. By designating the district, it can hand out ten liquor licenses in that area to restaurants or bars.

“(They’ll) definitely help a lot of small businesses,” restaurant owner Matteo Dirosa said.

Dirosa, who opened his Italian restaurant downtown 13 years ago, found it difficult to get a license that includes hard liquor, along with beer and wine, because they’re regulated by population and only a certain number are available.

He ended up hiring and paying a whopping $50,000 for the license.

“There were not many licenses in town so we didn’t have a choice,” Dirosa said.

His story is exactly why the city made the move, saying it hopes to attract new restaurants to the west side of the White River, where a $6M park is about to be built and employers like Riverview Hospital are growing more demand.

The licenses will come at a fraction of the cost, only $1,000 each.

“It’s an exciting time for Noblesville because we’re able to take the downtown feeling across the river,” said Bob DuBois, President of the Noblesville Chamber of Commerce.

DuBois called the licenses “an added tool,” pointing out that local restaurants are in high demand in Hamilton County right now.

“People want to have (many) dining options available to them,” DuBois said.

Noblesville’s Director of Economic Development, Judi Johnson, said that the city will accept applications and that it did not expect to grow any kind of bar district, like Broad Ripple.

“It’s a requirement that it’s more of a dining and entertainment venue, not just a place that serves alcohol,” Johnson said.

Dirosa added that he already knew restaurant owners downtown who hoped to get the licenses. When he opened his business, he said there was a noticeable hit in business from customers who dined with friends that preferred mixed drinks or cocktails.

“When we purchased the license it was really a big hit because now we have a full bar,” Dirosa said.


June 22, 2015
Calexico, CA
Calexico aggressively seeking business license compliance

CALEXICO — The city has launched an "aggressive" effort to collect outstanding business license fees from hundreds of businesses that are delinquent.

Since the start of the year, businesses not in compliance were notified that they had 90 days to pay 100 percent of their delinquent fees as well as any penalties, or face administrative action.

Of the existing 2,667 businesses operating within the city, 670 were delinquent on their businesses license fees as of Tuesday, said City Manager Richard Warne. Yet, the percentage of delinquent businesses is less than in years past.

"The city has collected more (license fees) this year than any other previous year," he said, noting that only about 30 to 40 percent of businesses had been operating with a license before.

Compliance letters have been issued to businesses both found within the city's limits, as well as those found outside but that perform work within the city. The license fees themselves are based on the type of business and estimated gross profits.

Starting in March, the city has issued administrative citations to those businesses that have ignored repeated requests for payment.

The first citation carries a $150 penalty, which rises with each subsequent citation.

"We have issued some businesses three citations," Warne said.

The city is also looking into whether it may have to eventually start revoking the licenses of those delinquent businesses and possibly close them down for failing to comply. But, before taking such an action, the city would work with its city attorney to determine the best course of action.

"Everyone will be given a reasonable amount of time," Warne said. "But no one without a license can operate their business in Calexico."

An added challenge for the city is determining which businesses no longer are operating and need to be purged from its delinquency list. Such an effort is expected to prove time-consuming, especially in the case of the city's hundreds of swap meet vendors, who tend to operate on a itinerant basis.

Of the 679 businesses operating in Calexico without a current business license, 225 of those were identified as swap meet vendors. Established brick-and-mortar locations account for 302 businesses operating without a license, while 152 of those not in compliance come from outside the city.

Staff Writer, Copy Editor Julio Morales can be reached at 760-337-3415 or at jmorales@ivpressonline.com


June 16, 2015
Stevens Point, WI
City delays vote on refunds for liquor licenses

STEVENS POINT – Business owners looking to save money on the city's most expensive liquor license will have to wait at least a month before a refund program could take effect.

City Council members postponed action this week on a measure that would refund most of the fees for some liquor licenses in an attempt to draw new businesses to town. Money from license purchases goes to the city's general fund, so the grant program would not draw from other taxpayer dollars.

State law allows Stevens Point 55 beer, wine and liquor licenses that cost $500 a year, and all are being used by existing businesses. The city is allowed to provide up to five reserve licenses. The reserve liquor licenses cost $10,000 each, and the proposed refund program would offer reimbursement up to $9,500.

Businesses would be required to derive 51 percent of their revenue from nonalcohol sales to qualify for the grant, which caused some controversy among council members and members of the public.

Barb Jacob, a Stevens Point resident and owner of Big Hunchies Roadhouse at 2408 Division St., said the 51 percent requirement doesn't give bars and taverns a "fair shake" at qualifying.

Council member Shaun Morrow argued that Stevens Point already has a lot of bars and not enough places to eat, and said the 51 percent requirement will help attract the latter.

Other council members were reluctant to eliminate opportunities for bars and taverns with good business ideas.

Mayor Mike Wiza said City Council members would decide whether to give the grant to a new business. Some council members suggested the city prioritize businesses looking to renovate existing structures instead of building from the ground up.

Comptroller Corey Ladick said council members should keep an open mind to both renovation and new buildings because any amount of new construction helps the city's operational budget.

Ladick said the more new growth Stevens Point sees in a year, the more money the city will be able to put into wages and city services.

The council is scheduled to take up the matter again at a July meeting.


June 16, 2015
West Palm Beach, FL
State, BBB, urge consumers to check business licenses before hiring

Is the building contractor you’re thinking of hiring licensed? Along with a couple of dozen other categories and occupations, such as those who sell alcoholic beverages, yachts and real estate, building contractors must have a state license.

As part of Unlicensed Activity Awareness Week June 15 – 19, the Better Business Bureau and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation are reminding Floridians to thoroughly research professionals and businesses prior to hiring and to report suspected unlicensed individuals. Unlicensed activity is against the law —BBB and DBPR take unlicensed activity very seriously because it threatens the safety of Florida’s consumers as well as takes away business from licensed professionals throughout the state.

Unlicensed activity occurs when an individual offers to perform or performs services that require a state license and the individual does not hold the required license. Florida law sets specific rules and guidelines for obtaining professional licensure, and the people who have met these requirements are held to professional standards.

“Choosing the right professional, a licensed professional, is one of the most essential aspects when deciding which business you choose,” said Karen Nalven, President of BBB Serving West Florida. “Hiring an unqualified, unlicensed professional can lead to many headaches and lost money. Don’t be a victim! Hire a licensed professional!”

“Unlicensed individuals often target the elderly and other vulnerable people with high-pressure sales tactics,” said DBPR Secretary Ken Lawson. “They also may lack the proper qualifications, perform substandard work or neglect to finish a project. The best way to avoid becoming the victim of an unlicensed activity scam is to verify licenses and check references before you hire a professional.”

Both BBB and DBPR have online resources to educate consumers on how to report unlicensed activity.


June 15, 2015
Brandon, SD
City-issued liquor license to stay at $125K

City-issued on-sale liquor licenses will retain the $125,000 market value placed on them three years ago.

Following a short discussion on June 1, a 1-5 Brandon City Council vote stopped any action on Ordinance #528-Setting Liquor License Fee. Alderwoman Jo Hausman was the only councilperson to support lowering the fee, although Alderman Roger Brooks seconded the motion.

City Administrator Bryan Read gathered a variety of city-issued on-sale liquor license fees, and said they ranged from $1,200 up to $130,000. The highest fee, he said, belonged to Spearfish, who chose to auction off its lone license. Read said the Spearfish license received five bids, with the highest bid coming in at $130,000.

A $20,000 fee was listed on the proposed ordinance that would change the fee.

“I couldn’t vote for that. It’s way too low,” Alderwoman Barb Fish said.

Councilpersons Mindy Hansen, Jon McInerny and Blaine Jones also favored making no change to the fee.

“The ink’s barely dry from the last time we changed this,” Jones said.

Two Brandon bar owners – Mark Fonder of Double D Saloon and Dave Halverson of Tailgators – both purchased their respective businesses based on the $125,000 liquor license price.

“When I bought Double D, it was based on $125,000, so I would take a hit (in the value of the business),” Fonder said.

Rob Horrocks, who manages 212 The Boiling Point, also owned by Fonder, said there’s no need to change the fee. “The community kind of demands it,” he said, adding none of the establishments have waiting lines going out the door.

Charles “Mac” McNamara, of the Brandon VFW, also does not want to see the fee lowered.

“If we cheapen the liquor license we’ll cheapen the business,” he said. “If you value the liquor license cheaply, you’re going to get cheap people buying the liquor.”

Three years ago, the Brandon City Council increased the price of city-issued on-sale liquor licenses from $8,785 to $125,000.

But since that time, there’s been little to no interest in the three available licenses.

Until July 1, 2012, a city-issued on-sale liquor license was priced at $8,785 (based on $1 per resident). Alderman Bob Bruning led the charge at that time to increase the price, saying Brandon’s licenses have a higher market value than $8,785.

Bruning felt the price should be comparable to the $190,000 fee Sioux Falls charges.

In 2012, the $190,000 fee equated to $1.25 per Sioux Falls resident.

Based on Brandon’s 2014’s population total of 9,681, at $125,000, a city-issued on-sale liquor license equates to $12.91 per resident.

The last on-sale license issued by the city went to Adrenaline Sports Bar and Victory Lanes. That license, which was returned to the city last year, was priced at the $1 per person rate of $8,785.


June 10, 2015
Carson City, NV
Nevada Legislature: Compromise tax plan hearing Thursday

With less than two weeks left in the regular 2015 Nevada Legislative session, the compromise tax plan designed to balance the state budget could become public today, despite not getting a hearing until Thursday.

Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office rolled out a version of the plan last week getting rid of the complicated 30-category Business License Fee ranging from $400 to $4 million a year that numerous businesses objected to.

In its place was a business license tax of up to $500 for corporations and $300 for all other businesses filing with the secretary of state and a higher Modified Business Tax. In addition, it includes a “commerce tax” levied on the revenues of Nevada’s larger businesses that allows those businesses to offset 50 percent of what they pay in MBT.

There still were objections from lobbyists and lawmakers, who argued part of that proposal looked too much like the gross receipts tax rejected by voters last November.

The vehicle for the new plan is apparently Assembly Bill 464 by Assembly Majority Leader Paul Anderson and Assemblyman Derek Armstrong, both R-Las Vegas.

The proposal will be presented Thursday at 3 p.m. in a joint session of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees.

It was supposed be rolled out Tuesday but those on the inside say details were still being worked out in an effort to get enough support in the Assembly to pass it by a two-thirds margin.

A number of business organizations including the Retail Association of Nevada want to put more emphasis on the existing Modified Business Tax and less on any tax that applies to gross revenue.

While several in the know say it will do that, they say some part of the plan must at least open the door to getting revenue from those Nevada and foreign businesses that currently pay little or nothing.

Whatever the plan does, it needs to generate some $500 million in order to balance the governor’s proposed $7.4 billion General Fund budget.


June 9, 2015
Friday Harbor, WA
Town changes business license rules

Whether you are a new business or receiving a notice in June that it is time to renew, you should be aware of changes to Friday Harbor Municipal Code, Chapter 5.04. The Town amended its Business Licensing Program by passage of Ordinance No. 1563 on June 4, 2015. The Town recommends that businesses review FHMC Chapter 5.04 to insure legal conduct.

The business license year, or the time period that a business license is active, is amended to commence from April 1 to March 31.

For a new Business: A complete application is required before the planned date for commencing business activities.

For an existing Business: License renewals are due by the expiration of the current business license on June 30th. If the fee for renewal is not paid prior to expiration of the business license year, the license shall be null and void after that date, and your business shall be an unlicensed one.

The basic fee for licensing is now a flat rate of $42.00 per year. For a new Business: Town has eliminated the practice of reducing the fee at the rate of $3.50 for each calendar month which has transpired in the license year for new licensees. Licenses issued after October 1st and before March 31st of any license year shall be $21.00 for the remainder of the license year. For an existing Business: Town will reduce the fee for licensing by $10.50 for current renewals with valid licenses through June 2015, in order to accommodate the shorter license year.

Renewal notices will be mailed to existing businesses the week of June 8, 2015. Businesses known to be operating in Town which fail to renew their license in a timely fashion will receive a second notice stating that they are unlicensed.

The $21.00 penalty fee for late renewal has been eliminated. All businesses operating without a license are subject to Class IV civil infractions as may be imposed by FHMC Chapter 1.18.

Engaging in business includes activities occurring “over-the water” or “staged” within the public right-of-way. Town has expanded the Business License Program definitions to clarify that:

“Over-the-water” means engaging in business or staging for business over the water under the jurisdiction of the Town as defined in Chapter 19.04 FHMC.

“Staging” means business or the process of activity planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling business resources in Town. For additional information regarding the Town Business License Program, contact the Town Clerk at 360.378.2810 or refer to FHMC Chapter 5.04 available at www.fridayharbor.org.


June 8, 2015
Trenton, NJ
Caution needed when penalizing Trenton businesses

T.C. Nelson is paying dearly for someone else's sins.

And it all has to do with the way his city's liquor license laws operate.

Nelson's popular restaurant, Trenton Social, is facing suspension of its liquor license for a whopping 100 days, all because of violations the club's previous owner incurred five years ago.

In an earlier incarnation, the bar/restaurant at 449 S. Broad St. went through some tumultuous times: brawls, liquor sales to minors, noisy crowds and other nuisances.

In March of 2010, police were called twice in 20 minutes, leaving three people arrested and one loaded handgun seized.

Roland Pott, who owned the license at what was then Tikizia, found himself facing 35 separate charges. The penalty for 19 of them: revocation of the license.

This was the grim reality Nelson inherited when he came on the scene, and the grimmer reality he's living with now.

"We're kind of forced to pay the piper on these charges, because you don't get a clean slate when a license transfers," Nelson said last month, after he and city officials arrived at an accommodation of sorts.

As part of a settlement to prevent the loss of his license, the restaurateur agreed to a 100-day suspension spread out over two years.

If the deal is approved by an administrative law judge and the director of the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the license would be suspended for 50 Mondays in the first year, and 50 Saturdays in the second year.

Because of Nelson's proven track record as a good business owner, the city allowed him to pick the days himself, and also granted an exemption on three days when events were already scheduled.

But because 70 percent of Trenton Social's sales are bar-related, Nelson says he has no option but to close on those dry days.

That won't affect just his bottom line, but also the lives of workers – kitchen staff and clean-up crews – who stand to lose shifts.

All this is coming at a time when Trenton Social has begun to attract residents and visitors, who are flocking to events such as the Pork Roll Festival and the Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market.

It's commendable that the city was able to be flexible when it came to the license violations, but it still seems counterproductive to punish a thriving enterprise for offenses it had no part in. Think what a chilling message that sends to anyone considering doing business in – and with – the city.

We'd say it's time to revisit the liquor license policies, keeping those considerations in mind.


June 3, 2015
Bolivar, MO
City looks at new way to collect business license fees

Mayor John Best wants members of the public, including business owners, to provide feedback, on a potential change to how the city collects business license fees.

The Board of Aldermen discussed the proposed change, which would tack on an additional $2 per month to a business’ utility bill, at its Tuesday, May 26, meeting.

City Administrator Darin Chappell brought the proposal before the board earlier this year, saying it will help improve how the city collects the fee, increase the number of businesses actually paying it and “put all businesses on the same level playing field.”

All brick and mortar businesses that have a utility bill with the city will have their business license fee applied in a monthly format on their utility bill. The cost will be $2 per month, in addition to the utility bill.

Non-brick and mortar businesses, such as contractors, will still be able to purchase a business license at a cost of $25 per year. The proposed changes also include having businesses renew their licenses on their anniversary date, rather than all businesses in Bolivar renewing at the same time.

Best said he would like to see businesses provide feedback at the board’s next work session meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 9, at City Hall.

“I would like the opportunity for people to express their opinions,” Best said.

Chappell said it would be ideal to adopt the changes at the June 9 meeting but if the board wants to wait a month, the city can postpone collecting the fee and give businesses a month.

About $20,000 in revenue is brought in annually through business licenses, but Chappell has told the board there are a number of businesses that do not pay their business license fee. By connecting it to utility bills, he said the revenue could increase, even though the fee amount is $1 less.

In conjunction with Best seeking feedback from businesses at the board’s next meeting, new rules governing how members of the public wishing to address the board were adopted at Tuesday’s meeting.

Alderman Thane Kifer had presented a proposed set of guidelines to the other aldermen earlier this month. See accompanying story for more information about those rules.


June 2, 2015
Langley, WA
Business licenses added, changed in Langley

A new type of business license is available in Langley, and the fees for existing licenses have changed.

Director of Community Planning Michael Davolio presented the changes June 1 to the Langley City Council, which unanimously voted to waive the first reading and approve them. Davolio implemented a seasonal license that lasts 90 days and increased the temporary license from seven to 10 days.

Adding business license categories creates more flexibility for merchants. Previously, Langley only offered a seven-day or year-long license.

“That’s not the greatest solution for someone who’s only going to be in business for two or three months,” said Debbie Mahler, city clerk and treasurer.

The annual business license fee increased from $50 to $60 for a business outside the city that’s conducting business in Langley. Temporary vendors will pay $30, up from $25 plus, if requested, a $10 renewal fee.

Davolio said he made the seasonal license last 90 days to eventually cover and replace the recently instituted mobile food vendor license. The mobile food vendor season was established between Memorial Day and Labor Day, late May to early September.


May 29, 2015
Key West, FL
Key West looking at raising the cost of business licenses

Businesses across Key West, from massage therapists to gas stations, might see a 5 percent increase in the local business tax.

The proposal is up for a second reading at Tuesday's Key West City Commission meeting and would result in an estimated $65,000 increase in annual revenue, according to city documents.

City Manager Jim Scholl said the additional money would help cover expenses in the city's licensing department and other general-fund expenses. The tax hasn't been raised since 2009.

"There's [consumer price index] increases every year and we haven't done an adjustment for increased costs," Scholl said.

He said the city projects revenue of $1.3 million from the business tax this fiscal year. Payment is due by Sept. 30 of each year.

The tax varies depending on the type of business. For example, a 5 percent increase would increase the fee to $281.14, up from $267.75, for gas stations. Bars with entertainment would pay $203.96, up from $194.25.

Nate Thomas owns Key West Daily Cycle, a bicycle rental company at the Hyatt Key West Resort on Front Street. He isn't happy about any sort of increase.

"They must need [the revenue] for the lawyers' fees," Thomas said, alluding to a $900,000 city payment to the family of Charles Eimers, a Michigan tourist who died in police custody days after a police stop in 2013.

The settlement ended a lawsuit filed by the family against the city and several police officers. The city's insurance covered the payment.

Also Tuesday, Scholl plans to give the commission an update on design plans for a Truman Waterfront park. Asked why the process has taken so long, Scholl said there were a lot of changes over time to what the scope of the project would be.

"The plans are at 90 percent. We're looking at the first phase, which will be mostly infrastructure," he said. "That will start by the end of the calendar year."

The U.S. Navy deeded the 33-acre waterfront, at the end of Southard Street, to the city in 2002 as part of the Base Realignment and Closure process. Over the years, various proposals have been made for its use, including a marina, amphitheater, promenade, sports fields and stables for the Police Department's horses.

The City Commission meets at Old City Hall on Greene Street at 6 p.m. Tuesday.


May 29, 2015
City council approves 31 liquor license renewal applications

The City of Riverton approved 31 liquor license renewal applications in February. The city is due to receive about $39,500 from application fees in addition to an unknown amount from future sales tax revenue.

In accordance with state statute requirements, the city council gave the OK for 22 retail liquor licenses, four club liquor licenses and six restaurant liquor licenses. One license to the Fraternal Order of Eagles Club was approved but later removed after the club status was voided.

The Wyoming Department of Revenue Liquor Division said during a work session with the city council April 14 that in cases where the department cannot approve a license, it is mostly because the club is not recognized for different reasons.

"Clubs are struggling," said chief of enforcement Tom Montoya.

He said many clubs are low on membership and others have a problem following the regulations. The liquor division handles roughly 1,300 licenses in the state, Montoya said.

"Our role is not in the approval process," he said to the city council. "Our role is you have a complete and true application ... You can really think of us as one of your tools."

In their presentation, Montoya and senior agent Kelly Hunt explained to the council the different license types and some of the common problems the department encounters.

"We don't find an enormous amount of violations," Hunt said.

Some minor violations include expired licenses and licenses not posted for the public to view.

Types of licenses

The full retail licenses are the most popular, because they are the least restrictive, most flexible, and allow a bar a package store or both, they explained. In Riverton, full retail licenses encompass Cedar Bar at 413 E. Fremont Ave., Walmart stores at 1733 N. Federal Blvd., The Depot at 110 S. First St., the Holiday Inn at 900 E. Sunset Drive, and River City Bar at 910 S. Federal Blvd.

The license that gives the "biggest headaches," Montoya said, is the limited retail liquor license.

Applicants have to meet stringent guidelines to qualify. The license can be given to a fraternal organization, veterans group, gold club, social club or political subdivision. The license is inexpensive but does not allow liquor to leave the establishment. Sales of liquor are for members and guests only. Riverton's only limited retail license is the Riverton Country Club.

A large source of the trouble in this license is who qualifies as "accompanied guests," Montoya said, because state statue does not define that phrase, so it is interpreted differently by organizations.

Other licenses include restaurant, bar and grill, and resort. The liquor division also has requirements for dispensing rooms.

The licenses belong to the city and county, which can prohibit the retail sale of alcoholic and malt beverages. Businesses can appeal licenses that are not renewed through district court.


May 23, 2015
Cheyenne, Wyoming
City may get another retail liquor license

CHEYENNE - The city of Cheyenne's population is growing, and the choice of establishments for locals to grab a cold beer or cocktail could soon grow as well.

The Wyoming Department of Revenue's Liquor Division likely will soon issue the city a new retail liquor license, which could result in the opening of a new bar and/or package liquor store.

The city currently has 36 retail liquor licenses, which allow for alcohol sales both on and off premises. All 36 of those licenses have been distributed.

"At this time, the city doesn't have any retail liquor licenses available," City Clerk Carol Intlekofer said.

So if a new bar and/or package liquor establishment wants to open up shop in the city, the owner would have to buy an existing license, which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The number of liquor licenses the state allows cities to distribute is based on population totals. As populations grow, the state Liquor Division issues more licenses.

To be eligible for one additional retail liquor license, Cheyenne's population must exceed 60,500. A recent report from the state's Economic Analysis Division puts the city's population at 62,845.

In light of this population report, Intlekofer said she is "hopeful that the city will at least be able to receive authorization for one additional retail (license)."

Tom Montoya, a compliance manager with the state Liquor Division, said he will "really start crunching the (population) numbers next week" and issue cities new liquor licenses accordingly.

Who ultimately gets the potential new license, and when, is out of his hands, he said. "The (Cheyenne) City Council has total control over that."

The council will consider a plan Tuesday regarding what to do if the city is issued an additional license.

The plan involves holding off on issuing the license for a period of time to allow anyone who might be interested a chance to apply. Once the city has a pool of applicants, the council would then decide who should get the new license.

Local economist Dick O'Gara said giving businesses access to additional liquor licenses is good for the economy.

"It would be a positive thing for Cheyenne," he said.

"Because the state's liquor licensing system is convoluted and based on population figures, rather than demand and the free market, we have a demand (for licenses) that's greater than the available supply.

"Not having these licenses readily available to meet demand has definitely hurt the economy. (Additional licenses) help give the consumers more choices, more places to shop and keep people from going elsewhere. And that's a good thing for the local economy."


May 21, 2015
North Bend, WA
Business licenses and badges required for North Bend solicitors

The city of North Bend requires all those engaged in business within the city limits to obtain a city business license.

Additionally, a solicitor’s license is required for those engaged in the door-to-door sales of for-profit items, and any person engaged in such activity is required to wear a photo identification badge issued by the city upon their person in a visible location at all times.

If you choose to answer the door to a solicitor who is unwilling to present a copy of their business license, fails to show a photo identification badge or causes you concern or makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, call the Snoqualmie/North Bend Police Department by calling 9-1-1.


May 21, 2015
Salt Lake City, UT
Business License Fees Update

Salt Lake City has approved an increase in business license fees which went into effect June10, 2014.

Click here to see the new fees. More...
May 19, 2015
Columbia City, SC
Columbia councilman wants some nonprofits to pay a business license fee

A Columbia City Council member wants the city to charge business license taxes to some nonprofit businesses, but council members say they have a lot of questions that need answers before they’ll consider a policy change.

In response to the city’s continued search for revenue sources, Councilman Moe Baddourah is proposing that nonprofit businesses that compete directly with for-profit businesses should be charged for business licenses. Charitable organizations are currently exempt from business license taxes.

“I’m really trying to find ways to generate revenue and make the system a little bit more fair when it comes to business license fees,” Baddourah said.

He noted specifically that operations run by hospital systems – such as physicians’ offices, gift shops, cafeterias, florists and laundry services – compete directly with for-profit businesses offering similar services.

Other council members agreed Baddourah’s proposal is worth considering as a potential way to bring in more revenue. But, they said, there are far too many gray areas and as-yet-unanswered questions to proceed quickly with any sort of policy decision.

For one, Mayor Steve Benjamin asked, what data is there to show the financial impact on the city if those currently exempt non-profit businesses were to start paying the tax? City staff does not yet have figures to show how much revenue the city could stand to gain.

Benjamin also expressed concern about what he anticipates to be a lack of support from hospital leaders as well as, he said, a need to consider the uncompensated services, such as treatment to homeless individuals, that hospitals provide before charging them a tax.

Another question raised by Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine is what other non-profits could be affected by the proposed change. Church-run daycares, for instance, are currently exempt from business license fees, but some could have to pay the tax if Baddourah’s ordinance amendment were adopted as drafted. Other entities such as the Salvation Army and Goodwill also could be affected.

Council has the flexibility to decide whether it would want to include businesses such as those in a policy change. But still, council members pointed out, those questions will take some time to answer.

“There’s been a lot of discussions around hospitals, but the hospitals are only one category under all of our business licenses,” Devine said. “And you can’t target the hospitals without dealing with other nonprofits if we decide to go this route.”

In recent years, Spartanburg and Greenwood have considered similar changes to their business license fee policies but instead worked out agreements to receive alternative payments from some nonprofits in lieu of taxes.

Baddourah, Devine and Councilman Sam Davis will serve on an ad hoc committee to continue to explore the issue.


May 19, 2015
Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
VI Businesses Owe $8.5 Million in Expired License Fees, DLCA to Embark on Collection Effort

ST. CROIX — The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs (DLCA) Commissioner nominee is notifying the public of action his department will soon be taking to recoup some $8.5 million owed to the Government of the Virgin Islands (GVI) by businesses in the territory that have failed to reapply for their business licenses, yet continue to operate.

DLCA’s Commissioner nominee Devin Carrington, through a press release issued late Monday, said the $8.5 million owed to the GVI was uncovered through a recently-conducted audit of delinquent business licenses in the territory. Carrington said all businesses operating in the islands do so after obtaining an annual license from DLCA. Clearly stated on each license, he said, is the start and expiration date of said license. Failing to renew on time is accompanied by monetary penalties to be paid along with the license renewal fee.

“It is completely unacceptable for any business to think that it is appropriate to continue operations without a current license and at the same time not pay fees legally owed to the Government of the Virgin Islands,” Carrington said.

Carrington said DLCA hasn’t been diligent in its efforts to regulate business license renewals, and the task of doing so effectively, pose an even greater challenge for the department because it has lost employees over the years as a result of the territory’s financial condition.

Nonetheless, Carrington said it’s the businesses’ responsibility to renew their licenses yearly, adding that DLCA will soon embark on an effort to collect monies owed.

“Especially in these times, where the government is financially strapped for cash, it is only right that businesses that are granted a license to make money in the Virgin Islands, pay their fair share to the Government of the Virgin Islands,” Carrington said.


May 11, 2015
Carson City, NV
Big day for Nevada governor's proposed business license fee

Carson City, Nev. There were several twists and turns regarding Governor Brian Sandoval's proposed business license fee.

The first and most important aspect was Senate Bill 252 survived a key deadline. It was supposed to be heard before the Assembly Committee on Taxation on Tuesday, May 12, 2015; however, the item was pulled without reason on Monday, the day before. But the bill received a waiver. The Director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, Rick Combs, explained this means the bill will survive for the rest of the session. Without the waiver, the bill would have faced another key deadline on Friday.

The Governor's proposal also received support from 20 Nevada Sheriff's, prosecutors and police chief's. The law enforcement professionals are part of a national movement called, "Fight Crime: Invest in Kids." The group is publishing a paper this week entitled, "I'm the guy you pay later." Sheriff Kenny Furlong is among those who is supporting the effort. He said, "Those people who fail at education are very often the ones we see coming through our gates, and it's wrong." He added, "We sit down with inmates and we talk about the causes of the circumstances you know, why they're in custody and too often the immediate response is education."

The are other measures to support increased funding of education being floated in the Nevada Assembly. Furlong said he didn't have a "favorite" other than to say the Governor's plan supports early education and he believes it will make a difference. He said, "It's the right thing to do. You don't create a savings account or portfolio or retirement in one day. You create something that is long-term."

The brief talks about savings for taxpayers through supporting early education. It said, A $10 million dollar investment in preschool could reduce Nevada’s prisoners by nearly 1,300 each year and save $28 million per year in corrections costs.”

May 7, 2015
Pelham, AL
Pelham creates business license allowing food trucks to operate in city

The Pelham City Council tonight approved changes to municipal laws that allow food trucks to operate through the creation of a business licensing procedure for them.

With Councilwoman Karyl Rice absent, the remaining city leaders on the board voted in favor of allowing mobile food vendors under a change in the proposed ordinance resulting from questions and discussion at the April 20 meeting.

After Councilman Ron Scott at the previous meeting questioned whether the mayor's office should have sole authority to grant certain approvals and exceptions to business license requirements, tonight's proposed ordinance included an appeals process.

The ordinance added the option for applicants to appeal a denial by the mayor's office to the City Council.

The council voted to suspend the rules in order to immediately pass the proposed ordinance, rather than holding another reading at the next meeting.

The proposed law defines a "mobile food unit" as a "self-contained vehicle, trailer or pushcart that serves prepared foods or prepares and serves food in various locations of the City." The annual business license for the units would be $100 plus .075 percent of gross receipts between $100,000 and $15 million.

Other rules included in the new law for mobile food vendors:

- The vendors can operate in districts zoned non-residential unless temporarily operating for specific events at a church that is zoned residential.

- They cannot operate for more than three consecutive days at the same location unless the mayor grants permission for special events.

- Hours of operation are limited to between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. unless the mayor allows extended time for special events.

- Vendors cannot operate within 200 feet of the main entrance to the nearest restaurant during that business' posted hours of operation.

- No vendor can operate on more than two individual sites in the city per day.

- No more than one vendor can operate on the same site each day unless the mayor grants approval for an exception related to festivals, celebrations and other special events.

May 5, 2015
Darlington, South Carolina
Darlington City Council OKs standardized business license form

DARLINGTON, S.C. — The Darlington City Council voted Tuesday night to approve a standardized application form for business licenses.

Councilwoman Dyan Cohen told the council that for transient businesses like contractors, having a standard document would speed up the application process.

“Companies that work in different localities have had to fill out a new, different license for each municipality, city, county, whoever requires businesses licenses,” Cohen said. “This got to be a burden for them. That is why this uniform business license form came into being. This allows them to do just one application and if the city they are working in accepts this application, it is much less of a burden for them.”

Cohen said the city did not necessarily have to transition to using only the standardized form but could accept it from businesses that did use it. She said around 70 cities, towns and municipalities across South Carolina use the form.

City Manager Howard Garland agreed with Cohen.

“We can offer this on our website, the business can download it, fill it out and send it to us,” Garland said. “That cuts down on the confusion for businesses and contractors coming in. The biggest advantage is a familiarity and convenience factor for the businesses.”

The council voted unanimously for the adoption.

The Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority, an item on the council’s agenda that has brought much community interest in years past, surfaced again on the eve of a new fiscal year.

Last year, the council approved a $16,000 budget item for the transportation entity, a figure much lower than the authority’s executive director, Chuck MacNeil, asked for. Tuesday night, MacNeil asked for $25,000 to help keep the struggling system afloat.

“We are a public agency,” MacNeil said. “We are able to access some federal grants and some state money to match the federal funds, but we do rely on other funds to make up the deficit.”

MacNeil said the transportation system handled more commuters in 2014-15 than in the previous fiscal year. The DART bus, which runs on a loop in the city of Darlington, saw an increase of almost 500 riders. The Darlington-Florence commuter bus saw an increase of more than 1,400 riders.

After MacNeil’s presentation, Mayor Tony Watkins asked the council to approve his suggestion of $10,000 to give the authority for 2015-16. Councilman James Cooper, made a motion to amend the amount to $12,000. The council voted to include the amended amount in the budget.

Councilman Wayne Chapman was the sole person to vote against the motion.

May 5, 2015
Birmingham, AL
Certain Birmingham businesses get business license fee cut

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Beginning January 1st, 2016, some Birmingham companies will get a break on their yearly business license fees.

Attorneys, accountants, doctors, optometrists, real estate appraisers, veterinarians, surgeons, health practitioners, engineers or surveyors, court reporters, insurance adjusters, and manufacturers/fabricators will benefit from the fee break.

City leaders said these businesses received the highest fees compared to other businesses in Birmingham.

The City Council recently approved the new business license fee schedule. The amount charged will drop by 50 percent.

Officials said the tax amount went up in 2007 during former Birmingham mayor Larry Langford's time in office. Leaders said that increase was in place to support the city's multi-purpose facility, which was never built, and keep the city financially stable.

The Council said it hopes the cut will bring in more businesses and allow Birmingham to compete with nearby cities.

April 23, 2015
Salem, MA
Growth strategy: Seasonal liquor licenses boost Salem restaurant business
The Salem News

It’s a longstanding practice in this city to issue seasonal alcohol licenses to start-up restaurants, and in recent years, it has become more common for Salem liquor licensing officials to grant seasonal full liquor permits for established downtown eateries that already serve beer and wine year round.

It’s a growth strategy that takes advantage of the fact that seasonal licenses, unlike annual permits, are not limited by state quotas based on population. The state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission still needs to sign off, but the licenses are granted at the discretion of local licensing authorities based on determined need.

It’s legal to hold both types of licenses simultaneously. The fees are nominal for small-business owners when compared to the tens of thousands of dollars annual licenses usually fetch on the market. The one drawback is the fact the seasonal license is only good from April 1 to Jan. 15.

”I think it’s helped bring back the downtown,” said Licensing Board Chairman Bob St. Pierre. “We’ve been able to develop Salem as a result of this.”

The Lobster Shanty, a longtime seasonal business on Front Street, comes in every spring for a seasonal liquor license. A restaurant and snack bar at Olde Salem Greens also utilize seasonal permits. But St. Pierre cited a few examples of well-established restaurants that got their start on seasonal beer and wine licenses, such as Salem Beer Works on Derby Street.

For years, he said, the popular restaurant came in every spring for a seasonal license before finally purchasing an annual one. But then Beer Works wanted to serve mixed drinks as well, so the restaurant sought and obtained a seasonal full liquor permit.

Once the board allowed one license, it couldn’t very well say no to another restaurant in a similar predicament. St. Pierre said that with some 90-odd businesses in Salem holding alcohol licenses of different kinds, the ability to expand drink offerings helps them survive in a competitive environment that caters to thousands upon thousands of tourists each year.

City Councilor Bill Legault agrees. He says it’s an effective strategy that has helped the local restaurant industry thrive.

In 2011, without any regular licenses available, the city tried to help some restaurants with seasonal permits by filing a bill with the state Legislature to allow those restaurants licenses to be converted to annual permits for a fee. This was after the city had already obtained several licenses for the downtown via special legislation.

Earlier this month, a new pizzeria — Bambolina — slated to open in June on Derby Street next to the Salem Wax Museum, was approved by the Licensing Board for seasonal beer and wine. At that same meeting, the board also signed off on seasonal full liquor for the Flying Saucer Pizza Company.

That pizzeria, owned by Steve Feldmann and Marie Feldmannova, already serves beer and wine via a regular license the shop obtained when it opened its doors in 2012 next-door to its sister eatery Gulu-Gulu Cafe on Essex Street.

“We wanted to do more (and) definitely felt like we were missing a market opportunity,” said Feldmann, explaining that they’d like the opportunity to be able to offer some mixed drinks to pizzeria patrons. “We found that we needed ... more of a level playing field with other restaurants.”

When the couple opened Gulu-Gulu eight years ago, there were no liquor licenses available, recalls Feldmann. So instead, they sought a seasonal beer and wine license from the city. After struggling through the first year, he said, they were able to secure an annual license.

And when they opened up their otherworldly pizza joint next-door three years later, it was shortly after Upper Crust Pizzeria went out of business at the same spot. Upper Crust actually turned back its beer and wine license to the city and Feldmann was then able to obtain that license.

Seasonal permits are one way for new operators to get their “foot in the door,” he said.

Those other restaurants Feldmann was referring to include Naumkeag Ordinary, located on the other side of the pizzeria and which holds a seasonal full liquor permit, according to state records. Naumkeag opened in 2013.

Those records also show 62 Restaurant & Wine Bar and Longboards Cafe & Bar — next to each other on Pickering Wharf — both holding seasonal licenses. Antonio Bettencourt first opened 62 seven years ago.

The development strategy doesn’t sit well in all sectors of the local business community.

Rinus Ooesthoek, the executive director of the Salem Chamber of Commerce, has long argued the city should stick with home rule petition licenses. He says all these seasonal permits are unfair to business owners who paid as much as $80,000 or more for their licenses.

He participated in a downtown development committee several years ago that crafted guidelines on how and where special legislation licenses should be used by the city.

”We think seasonal licenses should be given to seasonal businesses only,” Ooesthoek said. “We have a competitive system now ... with home rule licenses.”

Ooesthoek said that process has become “pretty streamlined” now where it usually moves through Beacon Hill fairly quickly. The only catch is that the city has established a price for those licenses — 75 percent of the open market value. That’s still a bargain, he said. He noted the proposed Cinemaworld project for Highland Avenue is seeking a home rule license.

As for licensed eateries getting additional licenses, Ooesthoek calls it “an odd practice” that’s unfair to other establishments that paid thousands for their licenses.

City Councilor Todd Siegel sort of agrees with him. Siegel said he sees both sides of the argument.

”It has its pros and cons,” he said. “It definitely supports the smaller businesses, but it also hurts the other businesses that spent $60, $70, $80,000 on licenses, kind of devaluing the license for the guys who did it the correct way.”

”I think it’s a way around liquor licenses,” said Siegel. “It’s not seasonal to have one for nine months.”

He readily agrees that special legislation and seasonal licenses have helped develop the downtown into the dining and tourist attraction it is now. Siegel and the others interviewed for this story also all agree that the current state regulations governing alcohol licenses are “just absurd” and totally outdated. They say the Prohibition-era laws are overdue for a wholesale revision.

April 21, 2015
Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach business license changes could affect rental property owners

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - If you do business in Myrtle Beach, you have until May 31 to get all of your paperwork in order and pay to renew or obtain a business license.

According to the city spokesperson, Mark Kruea, this annual tax allows you the privilege of getting a license and doing business within city limits. There's a base business license fee and then a percentage on top of that. The rate is based on what the business is projected to make in the next year, and it will vary based on the business, because there are many different classifications.

Kruea says this fee could range from $100 to $250, depending on how much the business makes. The purpose of adding what seems like just another fee, according to the city, is to raise revenue for the general fund.

“A business license really is a privilege license,” says Kruea. “We want to know who is doing business in the city of Myrtle Beach. Plus that business license fee, in most cases it's fairly small, but it helps to provide all the services that make Myrtle Beach such a great place to live, and work, and vacation, and actually have a business.”

Business licenses fluctuate year to year depending on the economy and whether there's a lot of construction in the area. During the recession the city saw fewer applications for business licenses, but Kruea says the city is definitely in a growth period and has been issuing more new business licenses.

The change this year is that if you rent out even just one property, you have to get a license. Before, you only had to get a license if you had two or more rental properties. And this goes for long-term rentals, short-term rentals, and anyone out-of-town who is renting out their second home. Myrtle Beach City Council actually approved the change last year to give owners as much notice as possible.

“There really was no good reason why somebody with just one rental property was exempted when everyone else was required to have a business license. If you got two properties, you needed a business license, you're in business. If you've got one property, you're still in business. And it's just fairer for everybody, for all folks who have a rental property to have a business license,” says Kruea.

And it is important to note, this license does not get you out of paying other taxes as a rental. Short-term or vacation rentals still have to pay the state and local accommodations tax and hospitality fees, according to the law.

The penalty for not renewing a business license or simply not getting one in the first place is five percent of the license fee for each month, or a fraction of a month that you do not have a license, up to a maximum of three years. That percentage is on top of the initial license fee you never paid. The five-percent-per-month penalty is not to exceed 30 percent per year. Also, operating without a business license is a misdemeanor.

Another change include if you have a business in Myrtle Beach but you do not live inside city limits, you'll now have to pay double. The fee for your business license is now twice that of resident license rates.

According to the city's website, city leaders plan to conduct random checks. If you don't have the license displayed or readily available, you will be fined and could face charges. If you think something is wrong and you do not owe anything that you are being billed for, you have 15 days from the day they mail you the bill to apply for a reassessment.

If you have any questions you can call the Business License office at 843-918-1200. And click here for a link to the application form.

April 16, 2015
Sprint RadioShack launches in 1,435 stores
Retailing Today

A new chapter in the ongoing saga of RadioShack started on Friday with Sprint launching retail operations in 1,435 RadioShack stores.

The new network of stores, which are being branded as Sprint RadioShack, more than doubles Sprint’s company-owned retail format, the carrier said. It came about through a transaction last week in which General Wireless Inc., an affiliate of Standard General LP, acquired 1,743 RadioShack stores. Sprint agreed with Standard General to be co-tenants in 1,435 of those stores, with Sprint being the primary brand in marketing materials and signage.

Sprint is occupying roughly one-third of the retail space at the existing RadioShack locations. Through the end of this year, Sprint said it will work closely with General Wireless to build out its “store-within-a-store” retail model.

“This important partnership with Sprint has enabled RadioShack to continue to provide a trusted destination for our millions of loyal consumers,” said Ron Garriques, the newly appointed CEO of RadioShack. “Together, we can preserve jobs and an iconic American company specializing in mobility, connectivity and innovation. This arrangement is truly a win-win, giving Sprint a much larger footprint and providing both companies immediate access to each other's customers.”

April 8, 2015
Gary, IN
Council changes dates for businesses to renew city licenses
Chicago Tribune

Gary - The Common Council gave its approval this week to a change in the date upon which businesses in the city will have to renew their general business licenses if they wish to continue to operate.

The council voted 8-0 Tuesday, with Councilman Michael Protho, D-2nd, absent, for a resolution sponsored by city zoning administrator Mary Hurt that says all business licenses will now expire on Dec. 31 of each year.

Currently, licenses were issued at various times throughout the year and were valid for one year from the date of issue. The change would apply also to licenses for operating vehicles or keeping an animal on a business' property.

Hurt told the council members that making the change would be easier for city officials to keep track of when licenses need to be renewed and for businesses to be able to remember when the deadline for renewal was approaching.

Councilman at-large Ronald Brewer asked about how current licenses would be extended and whether businesses would wind up getting more than a full year for the current license fee they have paid.

Hurt said that was possible, although the zoning department likely would have to study each license. "It might depend on what type of business it is in," she said.

The council also deferred action on a measure that would that would have accepted a $500,000 grant from the federal Housing and Urban Development department and determined how the money was to be spent.

The grant is meant to create a redevelopment plan for the East University Park neighborhood in Gary. But the ordinance that was on the council agenda for final approval Tuesday was instead deferred to the finance committee, which will meet at 5:30 p.m. April 14 at City Hall., with a public hearing to be held on the matter April 28.

In other business, the Common Council and Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson presented Gary Legends honors to two long-time residents who were felt to have made significant contributions to the quality of life in the city.

Recipients this time were Bishop Dale Cudjoe of the Christ Temple Church of Christ, 4201 Washington St., and Mona Glasper Taylor, a long-time Gary resident who now lives in Decatur, Ga.

Cudjoe has been pastor at the Gary church for 25 years, and in his role of bishop oversees a diocese that stretches from Iowa to Ohio. Taylor was the long-time operator of Mona's Lounge at 15th Avenue and Broadway and continues to operate the Greater Gary Jazz Association, even though she now lives in the suburbs of Atlanta.

The council also voted without opposition to have the Police Department accept a new German Shepherd from the Gary Canine Association.

The new police dog is meant to replace Loki, a German Shepherd that died in September due to complications from cancer of the liver. That dog was 4 years old at the time, and had worked with the Gary Police Department for the past three years.

April 2, 2015
Retailers Are Wary Of Possible Mall Merger

Simon is already the nation's largest mall operator. If it succeeds in acquiring No. 3 Macerich, Simon would control a third of all A-ranked U.S. shopping malls -- those with the highest sales -- according to Green Street Advisors. Retail and real-estate executives say that kind of clout could give Simon an unprecedented amount of leverage to raise rents and influence store openings and closings.

"Negotiations are difficult for retailers when one landlord owns all the space," said Jim Bieri, a principal with Stokas Bieri, a real-estate consulting and leasing firm. "If you control all the great real estate, then you can dictate the terms."

Simon spokesman Hugh Burns said the company doesn't control retail rents, which are influenced by a number of factors. He also said a combined Simon and Macerich would control less than 3.1% of the 7.5 billion square feet of U.S. retail shopping center space, leaving retailers many alternatives to Simon's malls, including the Internet.

A deal is far from certain. Simon on Friday made what it called a best and final offer of $95.50 a share for Macerich, valuing it at $16.8 billion. Macerich shares closed down 4.6% on the day at $89.21.

Macerich said it would review the revised proposal. Earlier in the week, Macerich rejected Simon's initial approach to buy the company for $91 a share in cash and stock and put measures in place that would make a takeover more difficult.

Regardless of the outcome, the drama is illuminating the often uneasy balance of power between big landlords and the retailers that fill their malls.

The industry has split between the 312 best performing malls and lesser locations that are struggling to attract shoppers. Simon's scale at the top gives it an edge. The company owns 76 of the top-tier malls. That compares with 68 for General Growth Properties Inc., the next largest mall developer, and 32 for Macerich, according to Green Street Advisors.

Retailers scramble to get into A-list malls -- not only for the higher sales, but also to elevate their brands by rubbing shoulders with other prestigious labels, something the industry calls "bag value." That gives mall owners leverage over rents and where stores are opened.

The issues are playing out in a lawsuit filed against Indianapolis-based Simon by a local developer in a case that could go to trial in federal court later this year. Gumwood HP Shopping Partners LP claims Simon pressured Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant and other national retailers to take leases at Simon's University Park Mall in Mishawaka, Ind., instead of Gumwood's nearby Heritage Square.

Simon wanted Ann Taylor to commit to opening a Loft store, which sells less expensive fashions than its namesake chain, at University Park before it would renew leases in other markets, according to court documents. Leases that were at risk of being killed included Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, one of the highest-grossing outlet centers in the country, and Lenox Square in Atlanta, a highly profitable mall.

"By 2008, Simon's CEO decided to 'go nuclear' and remind Ann Taylor of the fact that they were 'in the process of proceeding with documentation for almost 50 renewals and over 25 new factory and full-priced stores,'" according to court papers. Ann Taylor, which had a lease with Gumwood for Heritage Square and had started construction on the store, subsequently opened Loft in Simon's University Park Mall.

Mr. Burns, the Simon spokesman, said the allegations are without merit and that the company conducts its negotiations legally and ethically. Ann Taylor declined to comment, as did Gumwood, through its lawyer.

A similar battle played out in the St. Louis suburb of Chesterfield, Mo., as Simon and Taubman Centers prepared to open rival outlet centers in the summer of 2013. Simon told one retailer that leases coming up for renewal in other Simon centers would be in jeopardy if the retailer opened a store in Taubman's mall, according to people familiar with the situation. In other cases, Simon threatened to withhold its blessing from retailers that wanted to close stores, people familiar with the situation said.

"We compete fiercely for our retail tenants and always try to offer them the best deal possible," said Mr. Burns.

With hardly any new malls being built, Simon is turning to acquisitions to grow, though buying a major competitor has proved difficult. It withdrew a bid for General Growth in 2010, after that mall owner moved forward with a rival offer that brought it out of bankruptcy protection.

People in the industry say Simon isn't the only mall developer using hardball tactics. Mr. Bieri, the real-estate consultant, said it isn't unusual for landlords to lean on their relationships with tenants to try to discourage new developments close to their existing properties, or to leverage interest in good malls to get retailers to take space in lesser locations.

"We are confident there is no antitrust or other legal impediment to the proposed purchase of Macerich," said Mr. Burns, the Simon spokesman. "We believe this transaction would benefit retailers and consumers because we expect to improve the experience at the Macerich properties we're proposing to acquire."

March 21, 2015
Reno, NV
Sandoval urges lawmakers to pass business license fee
Reno Gazette-Journal

Gov. Brian Sandoval presented his business license fee — the cornerstone of his $1.1 billion plan of new and extended taxes to revamp Nevada’s K-12 education system — to a joint meeting of the Legislature’s money committees Wednesday in Carson City.

The debate and discussion over Sandoval’s “BLF” lasted more than five hours, although no vote was taken. Instead, Sandoval laid out his vision for Nevada’s youngest citizens and how to pay for it.

“They are the one who will inherit the Nevada we build for them,” Sandoval said. “Our greatest investments and most strategic reforms must be made in the way we educate our children,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval’s business license fee is expected to raise about $438 million over the next two-year budget cycle and help fund an array of programs including full-day kindergarten, teaching of English-language learners, pre-kindergarten education, career and technical education, gifted and talented education and teachers’ professional development, among others.

Stars of the show were Sandoval and three former Nevada governors — Democrats Dick Bryan and Bob Miller plus Republican Robert List.

List, considered the most conservative of the four governors, seemed to acknowledge that some conservatives don’t like the plan. Much of the criticism against Sandoval’s business license fee proposal is that it is too similar to the “margins tax” ballot initiative that was soundly defeated by voters in the 2014 general election.

“I am not here to say that Gov. Sandoval’s is the only or best approach,” List said. “If you don’t like it, what do you suggest we do?”

Then List issued a challenge to legislators:

“It is your job to step up and show the same kind of courage that Gov. Sandoval has shown,” List said. “You and your colleagues are much more than simply the winners of your elections. You were sent here to lead.”

List spoke for all four governors when he said that Nevada’s tax structure needs an overhaul. Sandoval ran for re-election on a promise to reform Nevada’s education and revenue systems but did not detail his overall tax plan until his State of the State speech in January.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the tax structure needs remodeling to meet the modern times, to meet our drastic and crying need to fix our broken education system,” List said. “Nevada’s schools, K-12, are an embarrassment to our state, despite the gains we have made.”

There was nary a negative comment about the plan during the first five hours of the presentation Wednesday. However, criticisms from opponents were emailed as the meeting proceeded.

“Gov. Brian Sandoval can put on a political circus, but his dog-and-pony show can’t mask the problems with SB252, his gross receipt business license tax,” said Victor Joecks, the executive vice president of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a free-market think tank based in Las Vegas. “In November, voters rejected a similar proposal by a 4-to-1 ratio, because they understood that raising taxes on businesses that are losing money will kill jobs and force struggling businesses to close their doors.”

Joecks was also critical of the statements of the former governors, saying Sandoval’s proposal to “dump” more money in education has a 50-year track record of failure.

“It’s amazing to watch three former governors talk about the need to dump more money into our failing education system without acknowledging that education funding increased during their tenure,” Joecks said. “Gov. Bob Miller touted the start of class-size reduction during his testimony, but failed to acknowledge that spending billions on class-size reduction has failed to increase student achievement.”

Tuesday, former Nevada Superintendent of Schools James Guthrie was also critical of Sandoval’s plans. Guthrie, who was hired by Sandoval, abruptly resigned in 2013 after about a year on the job. His resignation came after he told upset some Democratic members of the Legislature that class-size reductions were not high on his list of priorities.

Guthrie said Sandoval’s plan for education lacks a clear focus.

“The governor’s budget would spend additional millions on timid reforms such as expanded preschool, English language learning, opportunities for gifted students, staff for low performing schools, opposing cyber bullying, facility construction and more personnel for the State Education Department,” Guthrie said. “These proposals appear to be guided more by political expediency — greasing squeaky wheels — than a goal of effective education.”

Guthrie’s statements were released by NPRI Tuesday.

“To counter low academic achievement, Nevada must recruit and retain larger numbers of effective teachers, place them where they are most needed and reward them for high performance,” Guthrie said “No new technology, textbook, class-size reduction, professional development or physical facility can substitute for effective teachers.”

Others, however, said Sandoval’s plan was important for economic development. A better-educated work force is key to the state’s economic development, Rob Hooper of the Northern Nevada Development Authority told lawmakers.

“Education directly ties to work-force development,” Hooper said. “This is key to the well-being of Nevada families and to our state.”

The NNDA board of directors met on Sandoval’s proposal Wednesday morning and authorized Hopper to tell lawmakers that the agency fully supports it.

Sandoval will need a two-third majority in both the Assembly and state Senate to pass his tax plan. He will need 28 votes in the Assembly and 14 in the Senate.

March 20, 2015
Portland, OR
Portland approves 51 licenses for Tesla-driving EcoCab
Portland Business Journal

Under pressure to expand Portland's undersized taxi fleet, the Portland City Council unanimously approved a request from a Longview-based company to launch the city's first all-electric taxi service.

The council voted 5 to 0 Wednesday to grant 51 licenses to EcoCab.

Ronald Knori, a Longview, Washington entrepreneur who launched successful painting and taxi services in his hometown, applied for a taxi license on Oct. 31.

Knori plans to launch with two Tesla Model S vehicles — the same vehicle he operates in Longview. His fleet will also include 10 Nissan Leafs and several handicap accessible vans.

Over time, the fleet will expand to 50, with Teslas expected to form the backbone of the operation.

Knori said he will treat his drivers as employees rather than independent contractors and will pay not only wages but provide paid time off and health insurance.

He'd hoped to begin operating in January, anticipating $2.1 million in revenue in its first year.

"I expect to be profitable in the first month," he said last fall.

Wendy Culverwell covers sustainable business, manufacturing and law.

March 19, 2015
Carson City, NV
Bill to enact governor's business license fee, raise $437 million introduced in Nevada Senate
Associated Press

CARSON CITY, Nevada — The Nevada Senate introduced a bill Wednesday that would implement Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval's proposed business license fee and raise an estimated $437 million during the next two years.

The details of Sandoval's plan were released in SB252, a bill more than 200 pages long, as the governor looked on from the back of the Senate gallery. All committee meetings but the one for the Revenue Committee have been canceled the afternoon of March 18, when Sandoval is expected to testify on the bill to the full Senate and Assembly.

"This is a big discussion about how we modernize and better fund education and work toward creating, as the governor describes it, the new Nevada," Republican Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson said. "Every member of the Legislature needs to be invested in this discussion."

The proposal would change Nevada's flat $200-per-year business license fee to a tiered system with rates ranging from $400 to $4 million a year. A company's tax burden would be determined by its revenue and industry type, and sectors with a higher average profit margin will pay more.

Sandoval says the increase is necessary to invest in K-12 education throughout the state. The bill will need to win support from two-thirds of the Republican-controlled Senate and Assembly to become law.

Some advocacy groups have already taken a position on the fee hike. The Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance announced support for the proposal on Wednesday and said the tax increase would have a negligible impact on future state economic development.

"The LVGEA recognizes that it is imperative to start at the beginning and both reform our K-12 education system and pay for programs that will create a workforce that will be competitive in the 21st century global economy," said Ray Specht of Toyota Financial Savings Bank, the chairman of the board of the alliance.

But other groups have come out against the plan, including the prominent conservative fundraising group Keystone Corporation. The organization said it is opposed to plans to tax business income, including the margin tax that failed on the ballot in November, but it will work with the governor on vetting alternatives to the business license fee.

The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce, another heavy-hitter in the tax discussion, issued a statement saying its legislative team will be analyzing the bill and any other alternatives that crop up before taking a position on the fee.

"Our members are being asked to pay for possibly the largest tax increase in Nevada history," chamber officials said. "They have the right to understand what they are being asked to pay for."

Democrats didn't have immediate comment on the particulars of the bill, but they said they're approaching it through the prism of Democratic priorities.

"We're going to look to make sure it's fair, sustainable, that it's broad-based, that it's not hurting small businesses and the middle class," Senate Minority Leader Aaron Ford said. "We're going to take as much time as we need."

March 3, 2015
Santa Ana, CA
Santa Ana lottery determines who gets permits to sell marijuana

Cheers and sighs erupted at Santa Ana City Hall as would-be pot shop owners got their chance to obtain a permit to legally sell medical marijuana in the city.

Thursday afternoon's lottery was a result of the city-backed, voter-approved measure that says dispensaries can operate only in two industrial areas.

Applicants were selected during a lottery overseen by an independent accounting firm to ensure impartiality, city officials said. With more than 600 application fees paid at $1,690 each, the city brought in about $1 million in revenue. The city won't have a complete list of winners until Friday.

The randomly selected applicants now move on to the Regulatory Safety Permit phase of the process; that application costs $12,086 and is submitted to the Santa Ana Police Department. People can start applying for the permit Friday; the city then has 60 days to review the application.

Among the lotto winners was rapper Louis Freese, better known as “B-Real” of the hip-hop group Cypress Hill, whose lyrics often reference marijuana. Freese, who plans on opening a collective called Dr. Greenthumb, said he wants to bring “responsible, quality medication” to people in Santa Ana.

“These collectives create jobs, and that gets overlooked. They can create different revenue streams,” he said. “This is a tremendous opportunity for us. We're glad we've been selected.”

Under the new measure, collectives must be 500 feet apart and 1,000 feet away from schools, parks and residential zones. The dispensaries' gross receipts will be taxed 5% and could be raised to as much as 10%, said city spokeswoman Tanya Lyon. Cultivation is not allowed.

Medical marijuana is legal in more than 20 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, though it is listed under the federal Controlled Substances Act as a drug with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” — a designation it shares with heroin and Ecstasy.

But just this week, the U.S. surgeon general seemed optimistic about marijuana's potential.

“We have some preliminary data showing that for some medical conditions and symptoms that marijuana can be helpful,” Dr. Vivek Murthy told “CBS This Morning.” “So I think we have to use that data to drive policymaking, and I'm very interested to see where that data takes us.”

Grant and Patti McCormick said they know the benefits of medical marijuana firsthand. Both use it to alleviate pain: Grant for chronic arthritis and Patti for migraines. The couple attended the public meeting to support a friend who was ineligible for the lottery because of the location of his dispensary.

“It's great that Santa Ana is willing to do this. Some regulation is needed,” Grant McCormick, 64, said. “It can't be the Wild West.”

Edmundo Serafin was ecstatic when the accounting firm announced the second ball, marked 337. It was his number.

Serafin and two other friends had marijuana collectives of their own, but closed them in anticipation of the lottery. They expect more than 500 patients for their grand opening, he said.

It's a relief to have the chance at a legitimate business, he said.

“Before this, you were waiting to see if the DEA was outside, or if your shop had been cleaned up,” he said.

“We want legalization so patients can have safe access to medication,” Serafin said


February 9, 2015
Santa Ana, CA
Santa Ana lottery determines who gets permits to sell marijuana

Cheers and sighs erupted at Santa Ana City Hall as would-be pot shop owners got their chance to obtain a permit to legally sell medical marijuana in the city.

Thursday afternoon's lottery was a result of the city-backed, voter-approved measure that says dispensaries can operate only in two industrial areas.

Applicants were selected during a lottery overseen by an independent accounting firm to ensure impartiality, city officials said. With more than 600 application fees paid at $1,690 each, the city brought in about $1 million in revenue. The city won't have a complete list of winners until Friday.

The randomly selected applicants now move on to the Regulatory Safety Permit phase of the process; that application costs $12,086 and is submitted to the Santa Ana Police Department. People can start applying for the permit Friday; the city then has 60 days to review the application.

Among the lotto winners was rapper Louis Freese, better known as “B-Real” of the hip-hop group Cypress Hill, whose lyrics often reference marijuana. Freese, who plans on opening a collective called Dr. Greenthumb, said he wants to bring “responsible, quality medication” to people in Santa Ana.

“These collectives create jobs, and that gets overlooked. They can create different revenue streams,” he said. “This is a tremendous opportunity for us. We're glad we've been selected.”

Under the new measure, collectives must be 500 feet apart and 1,000 feet away from schools, parks and residential zones. The dispensaries' gross receipts will be taxed 5% and could be raised to as much as 10%, said city spokeswoman Tanya Lyon. Cultivation is not allowed.

Medical marijuana is legal in more than 20 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, though it is listed under the federal Controlled Substances Act as a drug with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” — a designation it shares with heroin and Ecstasy.

But just this week, the U.S. surgeon general seemed optimistic about marijuana's potential.

“We have some preliminary data showing that for some medical conditions and symptoms that marijuana can be helpful,” Dr. Vivek Murthy told “CBS This Morning.” “So I think we have to use that data to drive policymaking, and I'm very interested to see where that data takes us.”

Grant and Patti McCormick said they know the benefits of medical marijuana firsthand. Both use it to alleviate pain: Grant for chronic arthritis and Patti for migraines. The couple attended the public meeting to support a friend who was ineligible for the lottery because of the location of his dispensary.

“It's great that Santa Ana is willing to do this. Some regulation is needed,” Grant McCormick, 64, said. “It can't be the Wild West.”

Edmundo Serafin was ecstatic when the accounting firm announced the second ball, marked 337. It was his number.

Serafin and two other friends had marijuana collectives of their own, but closed them in anticipation of the lottery. They expect more than 500 patients for their grand opening, he said.

It's a relief to have the chance at a legitimate business, he said.

“Before this, you were waiting to see if the DEA was outside, or if your shop had been cleaned up,” he said.

“We want legalization so patients can have safe access to medication,” Serafin said


February 9, 2015
New York, NY
New York Revises “BitLicense” Regulations for Virtual Currency Businesses

Seven months after releasing its BitLicense proposal, the State of New York has published substantial revisions. Like the original version, the revised regulations apply more broadly than federal regulations and require many virtual currency businesses that “involve” the State of New York or customers located or operating within New York to obtain a license.

The New York Department of Financial Services has today released its revised “BitLicense” regulations. With a few notable differences, the revised regulations track the original proposal of July 2014. Businesses transacting in virtual currencies should understand how the regime might impact the conduct of their business.

Who Must Register?

The revised regulations, like the original proposed regulations, require licenses for any business or individual engaged in the following activities:

◾ Conversion of government currency into virtual currency

◾ Conversion of virtual currency into government currency

◾ Conversion of virtual currency to another virtual currency

◾ Buying and selling virtual currency as a customer business

◾ Administering or issuing a virtual currency

◾ Securing of virtual currency

◾ Storing, holding, or maintaining custody or control of virtual currency on behalf of others

Though the revised regulations build out a robust definition of virtual currency exchanges, they still cover the receipt of virtual currency for transmission and the transmission of virtual currency.

The registration requirements still do not apply to:

◾ Merchants merely accepting virtual currency in exchange for goods and services

◾ Customers paying for goods or services with virtual currency

◾ Banks that have been approved by the New York Department of Financial Services to conduct exchange services

The revised regulations contain yet another carve-out for so-called “pure” software developers: the mere development and dissemination of software does not “in and of itself” constitute activity that requires a license. Presumably, businesses that both develop software and also engage in “Virtual Currency Business Activity” (as described in the revised regulations) will still be subject to licensure.

What is the Timeline for Licensure?

The revised regulations provide for a grace period of 45 days before submitting an application for a license.

Some businesses, however, may qualify for a newly introduced “conditional license” presumably geared toward growing businesses that cannot meet the requirements for full licensure. During the 2-year term of the conditional license, the licensee will be subject to heightened review of its operations. The scope of this review is not qualified in the proposal, and the Commissioner has retained discretion to extend the 2-year term indefinitely.

What Is the Geographic Reach?

Like the original proposed regulations, the revised regulations still apply to any business “involving New York or a New York Resident” without regard to where the business itself is physically located. “New York Resident” is defined as any person or business entity residing in, located in, or conducting business in New York. Interpreted broadly, the regulations might even apply to any virtual currency business engaged in the above-listed activities that serves customers temporarily working in or temporarily located in the State of New York.

What Qualifies as “Virtual Currency”?

The definition of “Virtual Currency” differs only slightly in the revised proposed regulations. It is still defined to include Bitcoin and other convertible currencies, and there remain exemptions in the definition of “Virtual Currency” for:

◾ virtual units that can be redeemed for real-world goods, services, discounts or purchases but cannot be redeemed for currency, such as airlines miles and affinity points

◾ currencies used solely within online gaming platforms, such as World of Warcraft gold

◾ virtual units used as part of gift cards

There is a new carve-out in the revised regulations for transactions undertaken for non-financial purposes that do not involve the transfer of more than “a nominal amount” of virtual currency. The revised regulations are silent on what qualifies as “a nominal amount,” but this carve-out is likely a direct reference to industry calls for a “Bitcoin 2.0” exemption for businesses making non-currency uses of the Bitcoin protocol that merely deal in so-called “colored coins” or other tokens that stand for something other than money.

Capitalization Requirement

The original proposed regulations could have been read to prohibit licensees from investing in virtual currencies. The revised proposed regulations provide more flexibility and require licensees to hold sufficient capital in “cash,” virtual currency, or high-quality, highly liquid investment-grade assets. The amount of this capital requirement is subject to the discretion of the New York Department of Financial Services, with no stated upper or lower limit.

Collection of Customer Information

The revised proposed regulations still require the collection and retention of certain categories of information for each transaction, but the retention time has been reduced to seven years. For each transaction—no matter the size, the licensee must collect and retain the following information:

◾ The amount of the transaction

◾ The date and “precise time” of the transaction

◾ Any payment instructions

◾ The total amount of fees and charges received and paid

◾ The account numbers of the parties to the transaction

◾ The physical addresses of the parties to the transaction

Critically, the original proposal further required licensees to record the identities of both parties to any transaction. This requirement has been softened in the revised proposal, and only requires that licensees record identifying information for (i) the parties to the transaction that are clients or accountholders of the licensee, and (ii) “to the extent practicable” any other parties to the transaction.

What Kind of Reserve System Is Required?

A full reserve is still required under the revised regulations. The revised proposed regulations still require licensees who store, hold or maintain custody or control of virtual currency on behalf of another person to hold virtual currency of the same type and amount as that which is owed or obligated to such other person. Virtual currency “banking”—accepting deposits and making loans from those deposits—is arguably illegal under New York’s proposed regime. Only virtual currency “vaulting” is permitted.

The Revised Proposed Regulations Require Financial Reporting

The revised proposed regulations still require each licensee to submit quarterly financial statements within 45 days of the close of the licensee’s fiscal quarter.

These reports must include:

◾ A balance sheet, income statement, statement of change in ownership equity, statement of comprehensive income, cash flow statement, and statement of net liquid assets

◾ A statement demonstrating compliance with any financial requirements required by the regulations

◾ Financial projections and strategic business plans

◾ A chart of accounts, including a description of each account

The following are no longer required to be submitted under the revised proposed regulations: profit and loss statements, and statements of retained earnings.


February 6, 2015
Shelby, MI
Township sets licensing fees for smoking lounges
Source Newspapers

As part of the consent agenda, the Shelby Township Board of Trustees voted last month to establish an initial non-refundable application fee and a license renewal fee for smoking lounges operating in the township.

According to the resolution adopted at the Jan. 20 meeting, Chapter 14 of the township's Code of Ordinances requires that any person who wishes to operate a smoking lounge business in the township must first obtain a smoking lounge business license, in conjunction with the terms and conditions of the township's Code of Ordinances and zoning ordinances.

The resolution, which sets license fees at $1,500 for an initial non-refundable application and $250 for a renewal, represents the most recent effort by the township to place stricter regulations on smoking lounges.

Months earlier, the Board of Trustees unanimously adopted an ordinance designed to license and regulate smoking establishments throughout Shelby Township.

"This ordinance gives our township, its Board of Trustees and its police department an invaluable tool to ensure the safety of the Shelby Township community while providing local businesses a standard to prove to their neighbors that they are on the up and up," Shelby Township Supervisor Richard Stathakis said after the ordinance was adopted in November 2014.

According to Police Capt. Stephen Stanbury, the number of smoking lounges operating in Shelby Township has increased substantially in recent years, which has resulted in a significant increase in responses by the police department to various complaints, including assaults, criminal sexual conduct, minors in possession of alcohol, underage persons in a smoking lounge, narcotic offenses, disorderly conduct, larcenies, noise and traffic.

The ordinance adopted in November allows the township to license smoking establishments and develop regulations similar to, but not to the extent of, Michigan Liquor Control Commission establishments; suspend and/or revoke the licenses of businesses that repeatedly do not comply with the regulations stated in the ordinance; investigate current and potential owners of smoking establishments to determine if they have been responsible people in their past personal and business dealings; and inspect smoking establishments to ensure there are no illegal activities taking place on the premises.

It also allows for fixed hours of operation between 8 a.m. and 2 a.m. on any day, as well as the suspension and/or revocation of a license along with the appeals process, which is clearly stated and detailed in the ordinance.

"If there is any illicit or unsavory activity, our police officers now have a clear set of guidelines that dictate what can and cannot take place in these establishments," Stathakis said. "And if the time comes when there are infractions to the ordinance, it provides our police force with the tools to make it stop."


February 4, 2015
Pelham, AL
Pelham City Council cracking down on businesses that fail to pay sales tax

The Pelham City Council voted Monday night to enact a 30-day deadline on two businesses that must either meet outstanding obligations to pay sales taxes and file tax returns or have their licenses to operate revoked.

The council took action after holding its first public hearings under the revised business license revocation procedures enacted last July. The hearings could become a common occurrence at City Council meetings as the municipality pursues businesses that fall behind on payment of sales taxes.

Monday's separate actions involved the Gallery 31 at Riverchase auction business at 2040 Old Montgomery Highway and Bishop Holdings LLC's Wing King.

While Wing King has been closed for more than a month and the owners did not respond to the city's notification attempts, one of the owners of Gallery 31 at Riverchase told the council he would pay the outstanding amount within 30 days.

Mark Thompson, who owns Gallery 31 at Riverchase with his wife, Karen, told council members Monday night about problems with a business partner that have contributed to the delay in tax payments over several months.

"After this next auction ... we will bring current the back taxes on that amount," Mark Thompson told the council. "I'm taking the blame for this and I'm taking responsibility."

The council's draft resolution to revoke Gallery 31's business license after 30 days states the company had failed to file tax returns and/or pay sales taxes for last May and December.

Although Thompson vowed to pay the amount due, the council passed the resolution to revoke Gallery 31's business license after 30 days if the obligation is not met.

"It may be in the best interest for the city to pass this and the ball will be in your court," Councilman Ron Scott said. "I do think it's probably in the best interest of the city to pass this resolution so that we are staying true to what we outline and indeed not create a situation where somebody can come back and say, 'Why can't you do for me what you did for this business?'"

In the case of Wing King, City Finance Director Tom Seale said the restaurant's owners had failed to file and pay taxes for July, September, November and December last year.

"We have gotten no response from the taxpayer," Seale said. "They closed just after Christmas."

The council voted to revoke Bishop Holding's business license on March 4 if the taxes are not paid in full.


February 3, 2015
Springfield, IL
Rauner issues medical marijuana licenses, doesn't explain quick turnaround
Chicago Tribune

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday granted permits for dozens of companies to grow and sell medical marijuana in Illinois, though it will still be several months before patients can legally take the drug.

The surprise move came just one week after Rauner said no licenses would be issued until a legal review of the process initiated under Democratic predecessor Pat Quinn was completed. The Rauner administration did not detail Monday how the issue was resolved so quickly, saying only that it conducted an internal review of Quinn’s work and also consulted with Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office, and found numerous problem areas that could open the state to legal action.

Among those problems are what Rauner general counselor Jason Barclay called “arbitrary” scoring provisions under Quinn that all but eliminated some applicants, and applicants that were disqualified without clear reasoning or a chance for companies to respond to concerns.

All told, Rauner’s actions clear the way for 18 cultivation centers to begin growing medicinal pot, with another three applicants undergoing further review. The state will send letters to the selected cultivation centers informing owners they were selected for a permit and have 48 hours to accept the licenses. Final approval requires businesses to pay all related fees, register employees, and prove operators have enough money to build and run the facility.

One company to be granted a permit is Ieso LLC, which wants to grow medical marijuana in southern Illinois. The firm lists as a manager Tom Jennings, who is a former director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Another 53 companies were authorized to operate dispensaries that will sell the drug once it’s grown and harvested, with five companies under additional review. Companies in legal limbo include Health Central LLC, which hired former Quinn chief of staff Jack Lavin as a lobbyist. The company is seeking two licenses to sell medical marijuana in Springfield and Collinsville.

Also getting a closer look is Custom Strains LLC, which is seeking to open a dispensary in the West Loop. The company is run by Perry Mandera, who also owns a trucking firm and VIP's, a Gentleman's Club, on the near North Side.

For weeks, Rauner criticized Quinn’s rollout of the medical marijuana program. Quinn’s administration had said it wanted to issue licenses by the end of last year, but Quinn left office in January without doing so.

Last week, Rauner’s office released numerous internal documents that showed Quinn officials had scored and ranked applicants and were preparing draft news releases to announce finalists.

A spokesman for the former governor issued a statement Monday night saying Quinn did not approve any licenses because he “felt the process was incomplete” and he “refused to rush the licenses out the door.”

There were accusations of clout under Quinn’s watch, and Rauner’s decision to approve many of the same applicants did little to quiet those accusations.

Kreider Services had hoped to land a cultivation center in Dixon in northwest Illinois and its team had worked to secure a strain of marijuana known as Charlotte’s Web that helps children with seizures and epilepsy. The nonprofit didn’t get a license and questioned how the state’s grading system overlooked a group offering a strain of marijuana in demand for helping children.

“It just seems like Pat Quinn didn’t do the best job on this process to begin with and Rauner’s making it worse,” said Jeff Stauter, Kreider’s executive director.

But Green Thumb Industries, which won licenses to cultivate in Dixon, Rock Island and Oglesby as well as dispense in Lake County, contended it had gone through a rigorous process, including a security team that included former Chicago police Superintendent Terry Hillard and former state police Director Terry Gainer.

Green Thumb spokeswoman Rebecca Rausch praised the Rauner administration for a “thoughtful and thorough review of the medical cannabis process” and dismissed the suggestion that insider politics played a role in the selection process.

Mike McClain, who also worked with Green Thumb, said he acted only as a consultant because he feared lobbying of government officials would have “hurt” the group’s chances. McClain said he registered as a lobbyist, but only to make sure his involvement with the group was transparent.

“We wanted to go beyond the letter of the law. We didn’t want any sense of impropriety,” said McClain, a former state representative from Quincy and close ally of House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Tribune reporters Ellen Jean Hirst, Robert McCoppin and Jessie Hellmann contributed.

February 2, 2015
Houston, TX
Sysco says would sell 11 U.S. Foods centers to win deal approval

Food distributor Sysco Corp (SYY.N) said it would sell 11 distribution centers run by takeover target US Foods Inc [USFOO.UL] to Performance Food Group to satisfy antitrust concerns.Sysco's $3.5 billion offer for US Foods is awaiting approval from the Federal Trade Commission as the deal would combine the two largest U.S. food distributors.

Sysco and US Foods are the only companies with the reach to offer nationwide contracts to deliver a variety of goods to customers ranging from hotel chains to hospitals.

Sysco said it has been working with the FTC over the past 12 months to get approval for the deal, which was announced in December 2013.

"...We believe this divestiture package fully addresses (FTC's) concerns." Sysco Chief Executive Bill DeLaney said on Monday.

The centers offered to Performance Group generated $4.6 billion in revenue in US Foods' latest fiscal year, Sysco said.

Performance Group is owned by investment firm Blackstone Group LP (BX.N).

Reuters reported on Friday that Sysco and US Foods have offered to sell 11 centers, citing a source.

Sysco also reported on Monday a 7.5 percent rise in quarterly sales to $12.1 billion.

Sysco's net income fell 25 percent to $158 million, or 27 cents per share, in the second quarter ended Dec. 27 due to higher dairy and meat prices.

Excluding items, the company earned 41 cents per share.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of 41 cents per share on revenue of $11.93 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Up to Friday's close, the company's shares had risen 14 percent since it announced the deal in December 2013. They were up less than 1 percent in premarket trading on Monday.

January 30, 2015
Carson City, NV
Gov. Sandoval details new business fee plan to fund Nevada education reform
Las Vegas Review Journal

Gov. Brian Sandoval said Thursday that his proposed business license fee to raise $438 million to fund much of his public education agenda would mean lower tax collections than under myriad other tax proposals debated in Nevada over the past dozen years.

“This is our proposal,” he said. “I am going to defend it.”

The proposed fee, based on gross receipts, encompasses all businesses and is as fair and simple as possible, Sandoval said.

All 330,000 Nevada businesses that now pay a $200 annual flat fee would pay more under the variable-fee plan, but how much more would vary greatly.

The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce said it is looking forward to studying details of the governor’s plan and working on solutions to Nevada’s revenue volatility.

“The Metro Chamber agrees that significant changes are needed to stabilize Nevada’s tax structure for the long-term economic health of Nevada,” chamber President Kristin McMillan and government affairs committee Chairman Hugh Anderson said in a joint statement.

But the Retail Association of Nevada said the plan mirrors previous gross receipts tax proposals it has historically opposed.

“It has a lot of elements of a gross receipts tax,” said association spokesman Bryan Wachter, adding that it has been “very clear this was a policy we did not agree with.”

He said the group is committed to the governor’s education plan and agrees more revenue is needed to accomplish those goals.

“We hope the Legislature can come to a resolution that helps everyone,” he said.

Individual businesses could be asked to pay from $400 to $4 million per year, but Sandoval said no current businesses would pay the top rate because their gross receipts aren’t high enough to exceed his proposed industry-specific caps.

For the hotel-casino industry, for example, gaming revenues would be exempt while other revenues would be subject to fees of no more than $2.58 million — the most that would be paid in any of the industry categories.

The maximum tax in the construction category would be $405,181.

Those estimates are based on data from 80,000 businesses, and might vary as implemented, said Chris Nielsen, Sandoval’s deputy chief of staff.

Nevada’s business community would be divided into 29 categories based on standard industrial codes, each with a rate based in part on differences in costs and labor rates from industry to industry, Sandoval said. The plan relies on information from Texas to set different industry rates because that state has developed the data over six years and has withstood legal challenges, he said.

Industry differences, for example, would mean a 0.069 percent rate for agriculture while accommodations — hotels — would pay 0.218 percent. Food services, including restaurants, would pay a 0.211 percent rate.

Sandoval, who with his staff briefed the media on the proposal, provided a chart showing the amounts businesses would have paid had previous tax proposals been implemented.

In one example, a construction company with $2 million in gross receipts would pay $1,740 under Sandoval’s proposal.

Under the 2003 gross receipts tax plan, the company would have paid $3,875. Under a 2011 margins tax proposal, the bill would have been $5,600. The Question 3 ballot measure would have generated a $28,000 tax bill. Under a doubling of the modified business tax, which Sandoval said he also considered, the company would pay $5,151.

Other examples show similar results, although some business would pay less if the existing modified business tax were to be doubled.

One example is a retail business with $17 million in gross receipts, which would pay $21,639 under Sandoval’s plan, compared to $11,482 under a doubling of the modified business tax.

While many questions about the proposal remain unanswered, the approach is not unknown in Nevada, Sandoval said. Both the city of Reno and Clark County have a gross receipts component, he said.

“So I think it is important to emphasize and let people know that this is something that is not a novel concept,” he said.

The business license fee is already in law and could be modified to raise the revenue, Sandoval said.

Reform and accountability will be part of any increased funding plan, he said.

Sandoval said his revenue proposal, along with many other tax plans, will be vetted by lawmakers over the next 120 days.

“We’ll let the chips fall where they may,” he said.

Members of the Republican Assembly Caucus offered no immediate endorsement of Sandoval’s revenue plan.

“The process of vetting and approving final budgets takes a great deal of time and careful consideration,” said Majority Leader Paul Anderson, R-Las Vegas. “As we weigh the governor’s recommendations, our caucus will also be offering numerous reforms that will save money and improve education in Nevada. Without these necessary reforms, additional spending alone will not produce the results we all desire.”

Assemblyman Derek Armstrong, R-Las Vegas, who will chair the Taxation Committee, said the details of of the proposal offered by Sandoval will allow his committee to “begin the task Nevada’s taxpayers have entrusted to us. I welcome Gov. Sandoval’s commitment to Nevada’s future, and I promise to give his proposals the thoughtful consideration they deserve.”


January 30, 2015
New York, NY
Coinbase, a Bitcoin Exchange, is Operating Without a License

The best-funded company in the Bitcoin industry appears to be operating without the proper licenses in the world’s financial capital.

Coinbase, a company based in San Francisco with funding from the New York Stock Exchange and other big investors, said this week that it had opened as the first regulated Bitcoin exchange in several states, including New York.

But a spokesman for the top financial regulator in New York said the company did not have the licenses necessary to operate as a Bitcoin exchange in the state.

“We are working with several companies, including Coinbase, on licensing and will continue to move forward expeditiously,” said Matthew Anderson, a spokesman for Benjamin M. Lawsky, the superintendent of the state’s Department of Financial Services. “That said, we have not yet issued any licenses to virtual currency firms.”

The understanding in Mr. Lawsky’s office is that in order to operate as a Bitcoin exchange or broker, a company would need a money transmission license and would, in the future, need a specialized BitLicense, which Mr. Lawsky’s office is planning to unveil soon, according to a person briefed on the matter who was not authorized to speak about the office’s views publicly.

In a statement, a co-founder of Coinbase, Fred Ehrsam, said his company “will continue to work” with Mr. Lawsky’s office “on all Bitcoin matters involving consumers, merchants and the recently launched Coinbase Exchange.” He added, “We also look forward to continuing to work together on the completion of New York’s BitLicense.”

Bitcoin, a digital currency with built-in scarcity, was started by an anonymous creator in 2009. Over the last two years, companies working with the currency have attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in investments — with none attracting more money than Coinbase. Last week, Coinbase announced that it had raised $75 million from several investors, including the New York Stock Exchange and the Spanish bank BBVA.

There is no indication that Coinbase is facing any penalty for working with New York residents. But any tension between Coinbase and regulators could set back carefully orchestrated efforts in the industry to improve Bitcoin’s reputation with the authorities after earlier thefts and scandals.

In addition to Mr. Lawsky’s office, California’s top financial regulator issued a “consumer alert” on Tuesday about Coinbase after news reports suggested the company was licensed to serve residents of the state.

“California consumers should be aware Coinbase Exchange is not regulated or licensed by the state,” the alert from the California Department of Business said.

A number of other Bitcoin companies have said they were waiting for Mr. Lawsky to issue his BitLicense before trying to open an exchange in the United States. Last week, Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss said they were planning to open a Bitcoin exchange in New York as soon as Mr. Lawsky signed off on it.

Mr. Lawsky has been at the forefront of trying to impose regulations on the nascent Bitcoin industry, and industry participants expect that other state regulators will act after Mr. Lawsky.

Coinbase’s decision to move ahead of regulators is similar to the decisions made by some other California start-ups, which have started their businesses and then sought regulatory approval, occasionally causing tension with those regulators.


January 26, 2015
St. Charles, IL
St. Charles to begin regulating BYOB restaurants
Chicago Tribune

The liquor commission recently reviewed and signed off on revisions to the city's code for business licenses and alcoholic beverages, which included the new BYOB regulations as well as updated mandates for alcohol sale and consumption at golf clubs. The revisions await approval by the city council.

There is currently no regulation of BYOB restaurants by either St. Charles or Illinois, as state law delegates regulation to municipalities, said Mayor Ray Rogina, who also serves as liquor commissioner.

"If we stood silent on this matter, and stayed as we are today, anyone could allow for beer, wine or hard liquor in their establishment under the silence of the city and the state," Rogina said. "We're attempting to take a stand on this."

Once the new code is in effect, restaurants wishing to participate in BYOB will need to receive a Class F-1 license from the liquor commission, said St. Charles Police Chief James Keegan. This includes the three St. Charles establishments already offering a BYOB policy, which are Liu Brothers Asian Bistro, E & S Fish Company and La Vita Cigars, said Tina Nilles, administrative assistant for the city.

Licensed restaurants would then have to comply with certain requirements, such as only allowing unopened bottles into the restaurants and limiting one 750 milliliter bottle of wine or one 6-pack of beer to be carried in per customer, Keegan said. Alcohol must be consumed by customers who are served a meal during food service hours, he said.

BYOB licensees will be held to the same standards as those with a regular liquor license, and will be cited for serving minors or over-serving their customers, Keegan said. At least one person on duty at the restaurant will be required to undergo Illinois Basset certification for serving alcohol, he said.

BYOB hours will also be restricted to those of package liquor stores, meaning customers won't be able to bring in and consume alcohol after 10 p.m., Keegan said.

"We just wanted to strengthen our ordinances a little bit and protect not only us, but the proprietor," Keegan said.

Alderman Maureen Lewis, who sits on the commission, brought up her hesitance about the inclusion of spirits and hard liquor in the BYOB policy. But Keegan said the new code and licensing strive to preserve policies that have already been in practice, which include a restaurant's choice to permit hard liquor.

"When we looked at trying to codify regulations moving forward, we didn't want to penalize or restrict practices that were already in place," he said. "We just want to have some sanctions to make sure there are best practices."

Licensed BYOB restaurants will be permitted to let their customers leave the restaurant with one unsealed and partially consumed bottle of wine and any sealed cans of beer, as long as they are securely packaged in a transparent, one-time use tamper proof bag, Keegan said. This is to sidestep open container violations, he said.

The code also allows for restaurants with liquor licenses to apply for Class C licenses to allow their customers to also leave with one unsealed and partially consumed bottle, according to the code.

A Class C-3 license will permit restaurants to sell wine in its original package to be consumed outside the restaurant. Liquor commission officials mentioned two St. Charles restaurants already participating in retail sale of wine for carry-out orders: Francesca's by the River and Pizzeria Neo.

At Tuesday's meeting, the liquor commission also discussed a new city code regulating sale and consumption of alcohol at golf clubs. The Royal Fox County Club and St. Charles Country Club will now need to apply for Class D-3 licenses, which will permit alcohol sales from either a halfway house or a food and beverage cart. Sales will take place on the ninth and 18th holes for consumption on the golf course only, according to the code.

One thing not included in the revised codes but brought up by commission members was the possible regulation of alcohol at businesses that may serve wine, beer or liquor at open houses, launch parties or ribbon cuttings.

Members agreed future regulation could protect the businesses but tabled the topic for further discussion.

"When a business has a ribbon cutting and they want to provide some degree of hospitality, we can allow it," Rogina said. "But at the same time be true to our word about not letting things get out of hand."


January 26, 2015
Liquor licenses capped out: Montana at limit under quota system

Half a decade ago, Norbert Waldenmayer purchased an all-beverage license to be used in the Lion Building in downtown Helena.

Rose’s Cantina vacated the spot it occupied on the first floor before Waldenmayer owned the building, and he figured having a license ready would entice a new restaurant to fill the space.

No one moved in, and he entered a concession agreement for Buffalo Wild Wings to use the license, but the wing franchise purchased its own in February 2013.

Documents from the Montana Department of Revenue show Buffalo Wild Wings paid $575,000 for the all-beverage license.

Waldenmayer’s license has been on the market ever since.

Capped by Montana’s quota system, economic gains are driving up the license prices.

“When we hit the great recession, the values got cut in half in most markets throughout the state, that’s the market driving what people are willing to pay for the price of the license,” said Mike Hope, president of the Montana Tavern Association.

For instance, Chili’s Grill & Bar in Helena bought an all-beverage liquor license for $360,000 during the recession in 2007, according to DOR records.

Montana has three main types of licenses available for businesses. An all-beverage license allows the holder to sell liquor, beer and wine for consumption off site or on site between 8 a.m. and 2 a.m. Beer and wine licenses allow an establishment to sell beer or wine without food. Cabaret licenses were created in 1997 to allow establishments that serve patrons food to also sell beer and wine.

Under the 1947 quota system, each city receives five all-beverage licenses for the first 3,000 residents. Then one license for each additional 1,500 people. Any establishment already with a license was grandfathered in when the law was created, so although the combined population of Helena and East Helena allows for 24 all-beverage licenses, the area actually has 42 licenses holders.

Helena would have to gain 27,000 people to even have a proportionate number of people for the number of licenses.

Though the licenses are limited, Hope said Montana, with 1,455 all-beverage licenses, actually has more liquor licenses per capita than any state in the country except North Dakota.

He added that he doesn’t think the ceiling is limiting the industry’s growth. In fact, he said it’s growing equivalent with the rest of the state economy, or even faster.

Steve Morris, Jorgenson’s Restaurant owner and past president of the MTA, called the quota system “well respected.”

Morris said some tavern or restaurant owners are against the quota system, but he added there is a “disconnect” between people who think alcohol should be available anywhere but want to crack down on the social issues.

“We didn’t create the quota system, we just live within the rules that are created,” Morris said.

Regulation, he said, is the “best policy” because “there needs to be a limitation” on potentially harmful products like alcohol.

Shauna Helfert, state Liquor Control Division administrator, said there have been few changes to Montana’s system over the last decade.

The number of cabaret licenses increased, anyone who owns a liquor license must be trained and recent legislation allowed one person to own multiple all-beverage licenses.

Waldenmayer said his idea to buy a license hasn’t proved fruitful yet, but he’s hopeful the changing economy will bring in a restaurant that wants to buy the license.

“I think it will be a very valuable thing when the supply and demand diminishes,” Waldenmayer said.


January 23, 2015
Sandy Springs, GA
More than 1,200 new business licenses were issued by Perimeter cities in 2014

Statistically, the message appears to be mixed. More new businesses opened in Sandy Springs last year than the year before, but the number of startups are flat in Brookhaven and down in Dunwoody.

According to business license records from the three cities, 1,203 new businesses opened in the Perimeter area during 2014, up from 1,168 the year before. Business owners are trying all sorts of things: some cut hair or sell wigs; others teach yoga or etiquette; still others program computers.

The No. 1 category for new businesses in all three cities was for professional, scientific or technical services, such as computer programming.

The No. 2 category varied from city to city. Personal service businesses and retailers such as nail salons or dry cleaners tied with retail and health care as the second most popular categories in Sandy Springs, the most populous of the three cites. Retail sales, including online stores, were the second most popular category in Dunwoody. And businesses such as restaurants or hotels led the second category in Brookhaven.

Reporter Newspapers examined the new business license records from the three cities and talked to some of the entrepreneurs behind the startups.

Jennifer Hazelton, a former television journalist, started her new company, called Crocus, last summer. She came home to Dunwoody from Washington, D.C., to open her woman’s clothing company because she thought she’d spend less money getting started in Georgia. She offers high-end women’s clothing and sells it only online.

“I have had a desire to start my own company from a very early age,” Hazelton said. She thought about opening a clothing business in 2008, she said, but after the recession hit, she put her plans on hold. “The idea just didn’t leave me alone,” she said. “I decided to go ahead and do it. I made the decision to take the leap of faith or the plunge off the cliff, however you want to describe it. And here we are, six months in.”


January 22, 2015
Lackawanna, NY
Lackawanna to crack down on ‘ghost businesses
Buffalo News

The Lackawanna City Council will be cracking down on “ghost businesses” – those operating without a license – after the director of development urged a review and update of city codes enforcing business registration Tuesday night.

“It has come to the attention of the Department of Development that a number of businesses have been opened and are operating within the City of Lackawanna without abiding by the requirements for our existing business licensing and registration codes,” Fred K. Heinle said in a letter to Council President Hank Pirowski.

“Right now it’s hit or miss,” Heinle said. “We plan to upgrade and computerize the application process and come up with a new ordinance that is understandable and enforceable.”

City Attorney Antonio Savaglio pointed to a loophole in the current code that made it unclear whether existing businesses had to pay a fee and register. He noted the existing ordinance was drafted just two or three years ago.

“We will make it clear that all existing businesses will be required to pay a fee and register,” Savaglio said.

The idea is to treat it as a violation, Savaglio said. Violators – businesses operating without registering properly – would likely face a maximum fine of $250.

“The problem is the ordinance is so poorly written, it’s easy to be challenged,” Savaglio said. “That’s why we are rewriting the law, to tighten it up.”

Third Ward Councilman Joe Jerge, who operates Mulberry Italian Ristorante in Bethlehem Park, said, “It’s not fair to businessmen who follow the rules. Every year I get my license for live entertainment music, which I don’t play. And I pay the 50 bucks anyway. I don’t have a band or a jukebox. The only live entertainment is me.”

Heinle noted the difficulty of gathering the required active business information for some grant applications.

“It compromises our ability to apply for grants,” Heinle said. “It is very difficult to get information on the number of businesses we have. They open without even coming to us. We catch them after the fact.”

The revised code should be drafted and ready for presentation to the City Council on Feb. 17, Heinle said.

A letter will then be sent to all existing businesses informing them of the updated code.


January 22, 2015
Lackawanna, NY
Lackawanna to crack down on ‘ghost businesses'
Buffalo News

The Lackawanna City Council will be cracking down on “ghost businesses” – those operating without a license – after the director of development urged a review and update of city codes enforcing business registration Tuesday night.

“It has come to the attention of the Department of Development that a number of businesses have been opened and are operating within the City of Lackawanna without abiding by the requirements for our existing business licensing and registration codes,” Fred K. Heinle said in a letter to Council President Hank Pirowski.

“Right now it’s hit or miss,” Heinle said. “We plan to upgrade and computerize the application process and come up with a new ordinance that is understandable and enforceable.”

City Attorney Antonio Savaglio pointed to a loophole in the current code that made it unclear whether existing businesses had to pay a fee and register. He noted the existing ordinance was drafted just two or three years ago.

“We will make it clear that all existing businesses will be required to pay a fee and register,” Savaglio said.

The idea is to treat it as a violation, Savaglio said. Violators – businesses operating without registering properly – would likely face a maximum fine of $250.

“The problem is the ordinance is so poorly written, it’s easy to be challenged,” Savaglio said. “That’s why we are rewriting the law, to tighten it up.”

Third Ward Councilman Joe Jerge, who operates Mulberry Italian Ristorante in Bethlehem Park, said, “It’s not fair to businessmen who follow the rules. Every year I get my license for live entertainment music, which I don’t play. And I pay the 50 bucks anyway. I don’t have a band or a jukebox. The only live entertainment is me.”

Heinle noted the difficulty of gathering the required active business information for some grant applications.

“It compromises our ability to apply for grants,” Heinle said. “It is very difficult to get information on the number of businesses we have. They open without even coming to us. We catch them after the fact.”

The revised code should be drafted and ready for presentation to the City Council on Feb. 17, Heinle said.

A letter will then be sent to all existing businesses informing them of the updated code.


January 22, 2015
Lackawanna, NY
Lackawanna to crack down on ‘ghost businesses
Buffalo News

The Lackawanna City Council will be cracking down on “ghost businesses” – those operating without a license – after the director of development urged a review and update of city codes enforcing business registration Tuesday night.

“It has come to the attention of the Department of Development that a number of businesses have been opened and are operating within the City of Lackawanna without abiding by the requirements for our existing business licensing and registration codes,” Fred K. Heinle said in a letter to Council President Hank Pirowski.

“Right now it’s hit or miss,” Heinle said. “We plan to upgrade and computerize the application process and come up with a new ordinance that is understandable and enforceable.”

City Attorney Antonio Savaglio pointed to a loophole in the current code that made it unclear whether existing businesses had to pay a fee and register. He noted the existing ordinance was drafted just two or three years ago.

“We will make it clear that all existing businesses will be required to pay a fee and register,” Savaglio said.

The idea is to treat it as a violation, Savaglio said. Violators – businesses operating without registering properly – would likely face a maximum fine of $250.

“The problem is the ordinance is so poorly written, it’s easy to be challenged,” Savaglio said. “That’s why we are rewriting the law, to tighten it up.”

Third Ward Councilman Joe Jerge, who operates Mulberry Italian Ristorante in Bethlehem Park, said, “It’s not fair to businessmen who follow the rules. Every year I get my license for live entertainment music, which I don’t play. And I pay the 50 bucks anyway. I don’t have a band or a jukebox. The only live entertainment is me.”

Heinle noted the difficulty of gathering the required active business information for some grant applications.

“It compromises our ability to apply for grants,” Heinle said. “It is very difficult to get information on the number of businesses we have. They open without even coming to us. We catch them after the fact.”

The revised code should be drafted and ready for presentation to the City Council on Feb. 17, Heinle said.

A letter will then be sent to all existing businesses informing them of the updated code.


January 22, 2015
Sandy Springs, GA
Sandy Springs Approves Veritiv Corporation Incentive Package
Sandy Springs Patch

A new company slated to move into Sandy Springs will have one less thing to worry about as part of their plans to open new corporate offices.

The Sandy Springs City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a request from Veritiv Corporation to waive building permit and business occupational tax — commonly known as business license — fees for its relocation to Northpark 400.

Veritiv’s capital investment into the build-out of the space is estimated at $4.2 million, making it eligible to receive the city’s Tier II incentive package. That level calls for companies to make investments ranging from $1 million to $5 million, bringing between 26 and 99 jobs at or above the average wave level for Sandy Springs — $66,092 — and a minimum of a seven-year lease commitment.

The Tier II incentive will grant Veritiv a total of $166,450 in fees that will be waived for the company’s move.

Broken down, the building fee waiver amounts to $16,450 and the request to waive business license fees comes out at $75,000 for both 2015 and 2016.

Veritiv in December announced plans to move into 68,000 square feet space owned by Cousins Properties at Northpark Town Center. The new offices will be home to roughly 125 to 150 of Veritiv’s senior leadership and corporate support functions.

According to its website, Veritiv was established in 2014 following a merger of International Paper Company’s xpedx division and Unisource Worldwide, Inc. The Atlanta-based Fortune 500 Company employs about 9,500 employees across more than 170 distribution centers in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Council members also were treated to a check presentation from Sandy Springs Conservancy to the city to match funds provided by the Department of Natural Resources, which would be used in building a walking trail at Lost Corner Preserve.

City leaders also approved a contract with Tople Construction to perform the Powers Ferry Road sidewalk project in the amount of $443,140.85. The approval is pending approval by the city attorney and Finance Department.


January 20, 2015
Sandy Springs, GA
Veritiv Wants Building Permit, Business License Fee Waiver From Sandy Springs

A company that has its eye on relocating to Sandy Springs has petitioned the city to waive two sets of fees.

Veritiv Corporation has submitted an application to receive a waiver of building permit fees and a two-year waiver of occupational tax — commonly known as business license — fees for its relocation to Northpark 400.

The Sandy Springs City Council will consider the request at its Tuesday, Jan. 20 meeting. The meeting will start at 6 p.m. at Sandy Springs City Hall.

The waiver was submitted under the city’s Economic Development Incentive Policy, which was adopted in October 2011.

Veritiv in December announced plans to move into 68,000 square feet space owned by Cousins Properties at Northpark Town Center. The new offices will be home to roughly 125 to 150 of Veritiv’s senior leadership and corporate support functions.

According to its website, Veritiv was established in 2014 following a merger of International Paper Company’s xpedx division and Unisource Worldwide, Inc. The Atlanta-based Fortune 500 Company employs about 9,500 employees across more than 170 distribution centers in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Council members will also consider approving a contract with Tople Construction to perform the Powers Ferry Road sidewalk project in the amount of $443,140.85 (pending approval by the city attorney and Finance Departments).

The Council meeting will take place in Building 500 at City Hall, which is at 7840 Roswell Road.


January 20, 2015
Hilton Head, SC
U.S. Supreme Court won't hear challenge to Hilton Head business tax

The U.S. Supreme Court won't hear a plea from a Hilton Head Island company challenging how the town collects business-license fees.

The high court on Monday denied a request to review Kigre Inc.'s appeal of a ruling in June that upheld the town's practice. The court did not give a reason for the decision.

Last summer, the S.C. Supreme Court ruled the town does not violate the U.S. Constitution's interstate commerce clause by charging Kigre a fee based upon its revenue. Kigre, a laser-component manufacturer on Marshland Road, has argued it should not have to pay the full amount since most of its revenue is from out-of-state customers.

"While disappointed, Kigre accepts the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court," said Tom Taylor, Kigre's attorney. "(The company) will abide by it."

Town officials have defended the practice, citing previous state court rulings that affirmed municipalities can impose the fees -- no matter where the sales occur.

"We're obviously very pleased that the position of the town and (previous court) orders ... have been upheld," town attorney Greg Alford said.

The Supreme Court was unlikely to hear the case. It receives about 10,000 requests for review each year and only accepts 70 or 80, or less than 1 percent, according to its website.

But the high court's denial won't end the nine-year legal battle between the company and the town.

Kigre still plans to pursue pending legal action in federal and state courts, Taylor said.

In federal court, Taylor has asked U.S. District Judge Sol Blatt Jr. to reactivate Kigre's lawsuit against the town. The company said it paid "excessive" business license fees -- about $87,000 -- from 2007 to 2012. The town denies the claims, arguing that many similar issues have been decided in court.

Blatt halted the lawsuit pending a decision in the Supreme Court case. Taylor said the case could be restarted within three months.

In a state lawsuit filed last month, Kigre protests paying $12,000 from 2013 to 2014. Taylor said the fees were twice what the town should have charged.

"This was entirely based on animosity and discrimination from town staff," Taylor said Tuesday. "This is not about the money at issue. This is a matter of principle."

The town has not filed a response to the lawsuit. Alford said Wednesday the town denies the claims and will respond within the next week.

"We expect a similar outcome as those that have already been litigated," he said.

Meanwhile, Kigre is still considering moving off Hilton Head, Taylor said. He said the company is "actively exploring sites in and out of state," but declined to say where.

The move would take 50 jobs from the island, he said.

"Considering the type of business development the county wants to attract -- high-paying, tech jobs -- Kigre is disappointed in the town's continued fight," Taylor said. "Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, that will likely bring the decision (whether to move) to a head."


January 19, 2015
Boston, MA
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh refiles bills to reduce regulations on local businesses, extend city's bar hours past 2 a.m.

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh is backing 56 different bills at the start of the new legislative session, including one that would allow the city's bars to stay open well past their current 2 a.m. last call.

Walsh, with the help of Belmont State Sen. William Brownsberger and Dorchester State Rep. Evandro Carvalho, refiled a bill called An Act Modernizing the Business Licensing Process to not only allow bars to stay open as late as 4 a.m., but to do away regulations on things like billiards tables and fortune tellers.

The push to extend the hours that bars can legally serve in Boston is part of a broader effort by Walsh's administration that began soon after he took office to make the city more appealing to young professionals.

“After 17 years in the legislature and now as mayor of Boston, I see the impact Boston has not only on the region but on the Commonwealth,” Walsh said in a statement.

With the help of North End State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, Walsh is pushing a second major change to the city's liquor regulations that would reform the way punishments for violations are issued. The current system requires owners to shut down for a day or lose their license, but if Walsh has his way the city will be able to financially penalize companies instead of force them to close down for a day or permanently. The mayor's office said in a statement that the current system unfairly penalizes bartenders and servers for the failures of their bosses.

The state laws overseeing Boston's liquor licensing go back decades and are seen by some as extremely outdated. Walsh's previous efforts to extend the city's serving hours failed in the last session, but At-Large Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley's effort to increase the number of liquor licenses available to the city by 75 was approved as part of the massive economic development bill passed by the legislature last July.

Walsh is pushing changes to how the city taxes online travel sites that sell hotel rooms, how blighted properties are defined, and seeking the ability for the city to lower the speed limit in residential neighborhoods from 30 miles per hour to 25.


January 16, 2015
Columbia, SC
Richland County business owners reminded to renew business license
Columbia Star

As the new year unfolds, Richland County business owners are reminded to renew their business licenses and are encouraged to do so online in order to save time and receive a discount.

All Richland County business licenses expired December 31, 2014. It’s important for business owners— especially those who operate out of homes—to understand the necessity of securing an up-to-date Richland County business license.

“Obtaining a business license is important not just because it’s required but because it represents a ‘seal of approval’ from the county, informing potential customers the business is operating lawfully and complying with regulations that help ensure the safety and quality of life for everyone,” said Pam Davis, director of the Richland County Business Service enter.

The deadline for acquiring a 2015 business license is March 15.

Businesses can quickly and easily renew their licenses by taking advantage of the Richland County Business Service Center’s (BSC) online resources. The BSC website offers online renewal, as well as a checklist for ensuring all information is gathered before beginning the process. A comprehensive set of instructions help guide business owners through the online renewal process, and they will receive a $10 discount off the renewal fee for using the website.

“Many businesses will wait until the last minute to renew, resulting in longer waits, higher call volumes, and penalties if the paperwork is incomplete,” Davis said. “To help businesses avoid these, the county is pleased to offer online renewals to businesses for their convenience, allowing them to obtain their business licenses sooner, avoid parking and long lines, and receive a $10 discount. It’s a win-win opportunity.”

In addition to business license renewal, the BSC website offers a wealth of information for Richland County business owners, including a Richland County Business Handbook, a listing of relevant county codes, ordinances and amendments, important events and deadlines, and a list of currently licensed businesses.

To renew Richland County business licenses online, click here or visit www.rcgov.us/bsc. For more information, email bsc@rcgov.us or call 803-576-2287.


January 15, 2015
Carson City, NV
Sandoval seeks new business license fee to raise $430 million
Las Vegas Review Journal

Gov. Brian Sandoval is expected to seek a new business license fee based on gross receipts to raise about $430 million over two years to pay for his proposals to improve public education in Nevada, the Review-Journal has learned.

The fee would be levied in 30 different business categories and would be in addition to the existing Modified Business Tax, or payroll tax. But one change said to be part of the tax plan would be to charge the mining industry the 2 percent payroll tax rate now charged to banks rather than the 1.17 percent rate assessed for most businesses.

In addition, Sandoval in his Thursday State of the State address is expected to ask businesses to file data with the Department of Taxation so the impact of a services tax could be analyzed. There would be no immediate plans to implement a tax on services, however.

A package of taxes set to expire on June 30 this year, generally referred to as the “sunset taxes,” would also continue for another two years and would bring in about $650 million. The package includes higher payroll taxes for the state’s largest employers, a 0.35 percentage point sales tax increase and a $100-a-year increase in the business license fee.

All told, about $1.2 billion in additional tax revenue would be generated in Sandoval’s tax plan, which will require a two-thirds vote in both houses of the Legislature. Both houses are controlled by Republicans.

He will also need support from the business community, including retailers, mining and gaming, among others.

The additional funding would allow the governor to deal with other budget demands, including mental health and Medicaid, in addition to his focus on public and higher education.

With $1.2 billion in additional revenue, total general fund spending over two years would exceed $7 billion and would allow him to seek funding for projects such as the new medical school proposed at UNLV. The initial funding request is about $30 million for the project.

Sandoval will announce details of his 2015-17 budget, and how he wants to pay for it, in a statewide televised address at 6 p.m. Thursday.

While the revenue side of Sandoval’s new budget has been shrouded in mystery, the governor has made no secret that his priority for the new budget, and for the remainder of his new four-year term as governor, will be improving public education.

Sandoval has kept the details of how he will accomplish his goal secret as well, saying Tuesday only that he will present a “comprehensive” approach to improving education in his address.

“What I want to do is to identify a plan to improve the delivery of education in Nevada for the benefit of our K-12 students as well as higher education,” he said. “It’s going to be a comprehensive approach to education.”

But school choice, most likely through an opportunity scholarship program giving businesses a tax credit for contributing to a scholarship fund, is expected to be part of his overall plan. The money would be distributed on a means-tested basis, allowing students at low-performing schools to attend the school of their choice.

He is also expected to push for more charter schools as part of his reform plan.

But he also wants funding for efforts to ensure that students can read by third grade, with holding them back as an alternative, and for expansion of the “Teach for America” program to bring new teachers into the classroom.

Part of the reform plan is expected to include a new funding formula approved by an interim legislative committee over the summer. The recommendations are that the formula include at least 50 percent more in per pupil spending on students in poverty or with limited English proficiency.

The Clark County School District is expected to be the biggest beneficiary from the proposed change to the state public education funding formula because of its higher populations of the weighted groups.

Some lawmakers and policy groups argue that the state can fund critical needs while still living within its means.

The Nevada Policy Research Institute, a conservative think thank, says that if Sandoval and lawmakers pursue tax reform it should be on a revenue-neutral basis. Current tax revenues in Nevada are already more than adequate to provide high-quality government services, the group says.

But many others believe that short of some revenue producing changes to Nevada’s tax structure, it will be tough for Sandoval to follow through on his inaugural address theme of dedicating his next four years to helping Nevada’s schoolchildren succeed.

This includes Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, who on Monday said he hopes to approve a plan by March that would raise new revenue for education.

“We are not funding education adequately in this state,” Roberson said.

“We cannot continue to be near the bottom of most rankings,” he added, referring to low graduation rates and other measures of Nevada students’ skills compared to other states. “We know we need education funding and education reform. I know the governor will lead on this.”

Getting a tax plan through the Legislature is always a challenge, but it is even more so this year because of a divided Republican-controlled Assembly, which was handed the keys to power in a surprise sweep on Nov. 4. The 25-member GOP caucus has a “no tax” contingent and a more moderate group that is willing to consider new revenue as a way to balance the state budget.

The divisions have led to threats of recalls, ousters of conservatives from leadership roles in the Assembly and much bitterness.

But there is also a coalition of Democrats and some Republicans who want to increase funding for public education.

The legislative session begins Feb. 2 and is scheduled to conclude by June 1.


January 14, 2015
Brighton, CO
Adams Co. has 60 applications for marijuana businesses; 2 weeks to go
Denver Post

Adams County has received 60 applications to open a marijuana business in its unincorporated areas since it began accepting candidates Jan. 2.

The county is holding an open lottery system until Jan. 22 to select 10 applicants to proceed to the state licensing process.

The lottery system is open to anyone. Applicants don't need prior experience in the industry, and they don't need to live in Adams County to be considered in the drawing, which will happen Jan. 27.

An application is available on the Adams County website. Applicants must turn it in in person by 4 p.m. Jan. 22 at the planning department on the first floor of the Adams County Government Center at 4430 S. Adams County Parkway in Brighton.

The 10 facilities will include three retail stores, three grow facilities, three infused-product manufacturing facilities and one testing facility.

The three-member Board of County Commissioners opted to let a 16-month ban on retail marijuana operations in unincorporated parts of the county expire Dec. 31. On Jan. 13, two new board members for Adams County Districts 4 and 5 — Jan Pawlowski and Steve O'Dorisio — will be sworn in and allowed to weigh in on the new regulations.

So far, the county has 35 applications for store owners, 10 applications for cultivation facility operators, 13 applications for marijuana product manufacturers and two applications for testing facility operators.

Medical marijuana is still illegal in unincorporated parts of the county.

The 10 selected applicants have six months after the drawing to get a state license, building permit and change-of-use permit for their business. If a lottery winner doesn't have all of that within six months, the county will tap the next name that was pulled from the lottery, and that person would begin the same process to open.

Both the cap of 10 businesses and the lottery system will be in effect only through 2015. After that, the county may consider more stores and facilities as long as there is enough space for them to abide by the setback rules that the Board of County Commissioners adopted Dec. 16.

Those distance parameters include a 1,000-foot retail store buffer from schools, daycare centers, playgrounds, and public housing facilities, and a 50-foot boundary from residential property. Manufacturing facilities for marijuana-infused products must stay 1,500 feet away from of any residential area.

All retail stores also have to be 750 feet away from each other.


January 14, 2015
Farr West, UT
Farr West cracks down on non-compliant businesses

Several businesses have been out of compliance with city ordinances and face possible loss of license, says Planning Commissioner John Stewart.

He said during a recent city council meeting that the planning commission has met again with owner of Wisco Blocks and Pavers, Cory Wilkes, and said his site plan did not agree with the city ordinance as far back as June 2013. Wisco, at 2202 N. 2000 West, resolved one problem in 2014 by removing an out-of-compliance sign, but Wilkes was still not willing to meet other requirements, Stewart said. He did not put in a required fence and has not put in asphalt, according to Stewart, and in spite of being given more than a year to comply with the city ordinance, Wilkes has not.

“I recommend you not renew his license,” said Stewart. “He has been given a letter listing what he needs to do.”

“I take issue with everything you have said,” Wilkes responded.

He said the business had experienced a tough year, and putting a fence down the middle as the city is requiring won’t do anybody any good. He said there is a fence all around the business and said the asphalt that is not there is really the only issue. He also said he knows there are other businesses out of compliance in the city and all businesses should be held to the same standards. He said he felt he has been singled out because he is a fairly new business and residents had complained about possible traffic and dust.

Councilwoman Ava Painter said she has been in the meetings with the planning commission and Wilkes, and said, “This has been going on for two years now, there are others on the radar and we are working with them. You have not met the milestones agreed to in the meetings.”

“We gave you a license, we have bent over backwards for you, now it’s our fault?” said Councilman Paul Dinsdale, “We have wasted enough time on this issue.”

Dinsdale said the city should not renew Wisco’s license. Council members agreed to put the Wisco license issue on the next council agenda.

Stewart said Farr West Motors, 1025 N. 2000 West, is also at risk of losing its license. A site plan is needed and there has also been an additional building added. Stewart said the vehicles that are being parked on grass are not in compliance with the ordinance and said City Attorney Ryan Shaw has sent a letter to the business, and the owner did come in and get a site plan application and paid a business license fee, but there is no actual site plan. Stewart said the planning commission recommends denying the license for Farr West Motors at this time.

Councilman Tom Burkland said Utah Furniture Direct, another business under scrutiny, had its state tax license revoked eight months ago, and then the business changed hands.

Mayor Lee Dickemore said Heritage Ranch is another business not in compliance. He said landscaping has not been installed, and the site lacks a hard surface as required. Burkland said he has seen the site plan for Heritage Ranch and it looks nothing like what is actually there.

“They are in the same category as Farr West Motors and Wisco,” said Burkland.

Council members agreed to look further into the state of each of these businesses.


January 14, 2015
Wetumpka, AL
Wetumpka city leaders admit mistake, rescind business license fee increase

Controversy surrounding the city of Wetumpka's business license fees has been resolved, for now.

After the city approved a business license rate increase last month, some business owners saw their license fees skyrocket up to 2,000%.

Wetumpka city leaders and business owners gathered at a special meeting Tuesday afternoon to address the controversy.

Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis admits he made a mistake and says he had to go back to square one to fix the problem.

The City Council voted unanimously to rescind the rate increase, amending the old ordinance and taking those business license fees for 2015 back to what business owners paid in 2014.

Willis says the city hasn't made a change to the fee structure since 2007 and they adopted the process to move forward in 2015, basing the new rates on gross receipts that they didn't have.

"So we came together, met with the business people three different times, had discussions and realized, we can fix this and we need to fix this and find some common ground then in which to move forward in 2016 with a new schedule with increments in it that would increase but not as drastically,” said Mayor Willis.

The mayor praised the city's professionalism during the ordeal and said if anything, it opened a dialogue between businesses and city leaders.

Business owners we spoke with were overall happy with the decision made Tuesday, saying the city did the right thing by listening to its citizens.

City council members say the rate increases are meant to account for inflation so the city can continue offering city services.


January 12, 2015
Pennsylvania Passes Ruling For Home Delivery of Beer

A recent ruling by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is allowing businesses with retail liquor licenses to legally deliver alcohol to Pennsylvania resident's front doors. In order to make home deliveries, businesses must also obtain a transporter-for-hire license.

Officials say the application for the transporter-for-hire licenses costs $700, in addition to a $160 license fee for the Class B license permitting delivery of malt or brewed beverage.

According to The Express-Times of Easton, the PLCB has set certain limits to the new rule. In order to be eligible for beer delivery, customers are required to pay at the licensed establishment, which can be done via credit card over the phone.

Deliveries are only allowed within Pennsylvania and are limited to 192 ounces, or a 12-pack of 16-ounce cans. Wine and liquor are ineligible for delivery.

The PLCB reports that 19 license holders as of Wednesday had requested permission to begin home delivery of beer.


January 8, 2015
Wetumpka, AL
Wetumpka business owners upset over increased license fees

It's the talk of the town in Wetumpka, especially for business owners.

Business license fees have increased this year, some are seeing an increase of 1,000 to 2,000 percent. The fee increase was passed unanimously in a regular board meeting last month, but owners aren't happy.

Several owners and managers met Wednesday to figure out a game plan to change it. City leaders say it's a done deal, but that's not stopping people from fighting.

Terry Styron is the owner of Riverside Chevrolet in Wetumpka and he's not too happy about the new business license fee. His company's license fee went from $585 to $11,500.

"That is somewhere around a 1,200 percent increase," claimed Styron.

He's not the only one affected, several business owners say this could really put a damper on their company and those they employ. They believe this will ultimately hurt the entire city.

"What's it going to do to attract new businesses when they find out the licenses are so high," questioned Styron.

Wetumpka Paint and Body manager, Brad Price, added this change will affect the customers price.

"Inevitably it's going to cost the consumer," Price said. "Unfortunately times are tough for everybody, let alone to add more expenses to us that we will have to pass along to the consumer."

Brooke Poague is an attorney and co-owner of Bailey and Poague, she says, "We give thousands of dollars a year to the local schools, to baseball fields, to the little leagues. Several people have said when the kids show up at the door this year, I'm just going to have to tell them I can't because this is cutting into what I set aside for that ever year."

City leaders, however, say the increase was way past time. According to city attorney Regina Edwards, the fee hasn't gone up since 2007.

"All businesses are provided with police protection, fire protection, the infrastructure paid for by the city, new streets, all of that benefits our businesses. The only contribution they make to that, if they are just a business owner in the city, is their business license," claimed Edwards.

Edwards says the new system, based on gross receipts, treats everyone fairly and is right in line with surrounding municipalities.

"If we had gone up every year we would have a lot more money but now we are just trying to break even and get to where we need to be," stated Edwards. "We are doing a lot of renovation in the infrastructure, we have applied for grants, all those grants require matching funds. It will help facilitate the improvements we need to make in the downtown area."

Many owners agree that an increase was needed, but should have been done gradually so businesses could budget it for the year.

"We need to get in line with everybody else and be competitive, I agree with that but it needs to be a gradual increase, where it just doesn't hurt everybody," said Price.

Business owners at Wednesday's meeting said they are willing to do whatever it takes, including possibly suing the city.

This rate should stay the same for at least five years, with no increases. Leaders do suggest business owners to contact the city and make sure everything is calculated correctly and businesses aren't being charged too much.


January 8, 2015
Pine Bluff, AR
Pine Bluff Businesses Given 30 Days to Pay Delinquent Permits or Shut Down

The city of Pine Bluff has given businesses operating without current permits an extended 30 days to either pay up or close.

Mayor Debe Hollingsworth discussed the issue during Monday's council meeting. According to records, some businesses were a year to four years behind on payments. Hollingsworth said the previous administration did not enforce the law, which was why businesses were able to continue to operate.

"I think that our city is just like any other city. You do have businesses that will be behind," Hollingsworth said. "The problem is is that in the past they have not actively pursued these businesses."

Hollingsworth said when her administration took over they re-routed data to a new computer system and discovered 240 businesses that were delinquent.

The City Collector office said some of the businesses were no longer open and others paid. It was currently in the process of updating the list, which it said was tentative.

Owner of Garfield's Restaurant and Pub, Mike Denney said he had made it a priority to pay his permit to be removed from the list. He said he worked out a payment plan with the city.

"Communication is the key, you know, don't wait until the last minute because that's what hurts you," he said.

While he admitted it was hard to stay current on permit payments and that businesses should pay their dues, he said he didn't think threatening to shut delinquent businesses down was the best approach.

"It's not good for cities especially cities that are hurting for business that to go around and shut down businesses."

Hollingsworth said she didn't want businesses to close, but had to follow the law.

"So we're wanting to make sure that that list is right and hopefully be proactive with this," she continued. "And let them know that you've got to bring it current in order to do business just like all the other businesses that we have in our city."

The deadline to pay for business licenses is February 8.


January 7, 2015
Washington, DC
FAA grants permits for agriculture, real estate drones

The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday issued permits to use drones to monitor crops and photograph properties for sale, marking the first time permission has been granted to companies involved in agriculture and real estate.

The exemptions to the current ban on commercial drone flights were granted to Advanced Aviation Solutions in Star, Idaho, for "crop scouting," and to Douglas Trudeau of Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, Arizona.

Advanced Aviation Solutions plans to use its 1.5-pound, fixed-wing eBee drone to make photographic measurements of farm fields, determine the health of crops and look for pests. The aim is to save farmers time walking through fields. The drone also can carry sensors that pick up information invisible to the naked eye, which can help determine which fields need watering.

Trudeau's exemption authorizes him to fly a Phantom 2 Vision+ quadcopter to "enhance academic community awareness and augment real estate listing videos," the FAA said.

Real estate companies have been eager to gain permission to use drones to photograph and make videos of pricey properties.

The permits require that drone operations include both a ground "pilot" and an observer, that the pilot have at least an FAA private pilot certificate and a current medical certificate, and that the drone remains within line of sight of the operator at all times.

Before these approvals, the FAA had granted 12 exemptions to 11 companies involved in the oil and gas, filmmaking, landfill and other industries.

As of today, the FAA has received 214 requests for exemptions from commercial entities.

The agency is under pressure from Congress, the drone industry and companies that want to use drones to provide broader access to U.S. skies. FAA officials had said they hoped to propose regulations to permit general commercial use of small drones by the end of 2014, but that deadline has slipped.

Industry forecasts predict drones will create tens of billions of dollars in economic development and create thousands of new jobs once commercial use is permitted, but an Associated Press poll conducted in early December found Americans are skeptical of the benefits of heralded drone revolution.

Thirty-three percent of Americans oppose using drones to monitor or spray crops, while another third support it. Only 27 percent of Americans favor using drones for aerial photography. Privacy and safety are key concerns.

FAA officials say preventing potentially deadly collisions between drones and manned aircraft is their top priority. The agency receives reports nearly every day of small drones flying in the vicinity of manned aircraft and airports even though that's not permitted.


January 5, 2015
Carbondale, IL
Carbondale council raises cap on liquor licenses

There are a few more spots available for those wanting to open a bar in the city.

The Carbondale City Council in December approved an ordinance increasing the limit on the amount of Class B liquor licenses available.

The cap was raised from 16 to 20.

There are two types of Class B licenses — Class B1 and Class B2.

The B1 license allows the sale of beer and wine only. The license also allows the sale of micro-brewed beer as long as it is brewed on the premises.

A Class B2 license allows for the sale of all alcohol, including spirits. The B2 license would allow for the opening of a brewery and distillery.

Carbondale City Manager Kevin Baity said there has been interest from potential business owners wanting to obtain a license, but could not because of the cap.

“Such inquires include micro-breweries, micro-distilleries and general operation bars,” he said. “The expressed interest is due in part to the current re-investment in downtown.”

The city council had an opportunity to eliminate the cap on Class B licenses, but elected to keep the cap at 20.

One of the deciding factors to keep the cap was the expansion of video gaming establishments in Carbondale.

The council also discussed the creation of a B3 liquor license, which would permit standalone video gaming establishments, but asked city staff to work out the details of an ordinance before officially creating it.

The city is concerned that if the city eliminated the cap completely on B licenses, without the classification of a stand-alone gaming license, there would be rapid expansion of gaming parlors.

Council members had different opinions about having a limit on licenses.

“I share the city manager’s concern about places that want to be video gaming only coming in and scooping up all the licenses,” said Acting Mayor Don Monty. “There is concern that if there is no cap at all, then you totally lose control over the situation.

“You may end up in circumstances you really don’t want.”

Councilwoman Corene McDaniel said she doesn’t want to see the city relying solely on alcohol sales.

She also expressed concern for business owners making a profit if no cap exists.

“If we do not have a cap, will everybody be making money and be able to stay in business?” McDaniel said. “Probably not.”

Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Jane Adams said she would be in favor of no cap on licenses to give those who want to try their hand in business the opportunity.

“It is better to lift the cap and allow whatever businesses that want to come in (a chance) to start,” she said.

Councilman Lance Jack, who was in the audience because he owns a liquor license and cannot participate as a council member in a discussion about alcohol, said having the cap on licenses creates a bad perception for Carbondale.

“I have always been a proponent of getting rid of the cap,” he said. “By having a cap … it throws a perception out there that we don’t want businesses in Carbondale.”

The council voted 5-1 to approve the increase of the cap from 16 to 20. McDaniel voted no.


December 30, 2014
Harrisburg, PA
Pa. tavern owners slow to apply for games-of-chance licenses
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

A year after the passage of a law allowing Pennsylvania taverns to host small games of chance took effect, only a fraction of the expected number of establishments have sought licenses.

When the bill passed the General Assembly in November 2013, the governor’s budget office was projecting 2,000 establishments would obtain a tavern gaming license. At the current rate, reaching that mark will take quite a while: As of late this month, the Liquor Control Board had received 47 applications and approved 37.

Amy Christie, executive director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage & Tavern Association, attributes the pace to a number of hurdles: an expensive FBI background check, a 65 percent tax rate, and an application that owners have found cumbersome. But after decades of lobbying to bring gaming to bars, she said her members are happy they have a foot in the door.

“This is the ability to have some kind of legalized gaming in our establishments,” she said. “We were working for this for 30 years. We thought, look, we’ve got to take this opportunity and get it passed, because that’s what they were willing to pass.”

Tony Pacifico, who owns Zach’s Sports and Spirits in Altoona, recently submitted his paperwork after running into confusion in an earlier attempt. He said the application could be made simpler.

“Every question they ask on the application, they have this already in Harrisburg,” he said, though he added that Liquor Control Board employees had been helpful in guiding him through the process.

The tavern association supports a proposal last spring by Sen. Rich Alloway, R-Franklin, that would remove the requirement of an FBI background check, allow taverns to keep 45 percent of gaming revenue and reduce the risk that an error with gaming could cost owners their liquor licenses.

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, signed on as a co-sponsor after observing during a February hearing that “this rollout is worse than Obamacare.”

“Sen. Corman was supportive last year and remains supportive of Sen. Alloway’s effort to provide a tavern gaming law which applies the proper gaming oversights while remaining a viable option to these small tavern businesses,” said Scott Sikorski, Mr. Corman’s legislative director.

Legislators have taken one step to encourage more applications: In July, they approved reducing the license fee from $2,000 to $500.

The tavern gaming law creates a license allowing bars to offer raffles, pull tabs and daily drawings. Revenue is taxed at 5 percent to the local municipality and 60 percent to the state, a rate that Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget office estimated could generate $156 million a year for the general fund, after a ramp-up period.

Taverns had presented the issue as one of equity in their competition with social and fraternal clubs, which were permitted to offer games by a 1988 law.

Barry Zeigler, who with his wife, Ronda, owns Midway Tavern in Adams County, has been pushing since then for permission to offer gaming at bars. The Zeiglers, who received the first tavern gaming license awarded in the state, see games of chance as another way to bring in money, though they have estimated it will take two or three years to recover what they paid for licensing and supplies.

“We knew we were’t going to get rich,” Ms. Zeigler said. “It was another revenue stream, and that’s how we looked at it.”


December 26, 2014
New Colorado Durable Medical Equipment Supplier License Requirements Become Effective 12-31-14

Effective December 31, 2014, durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers that do business in the State of Colorado will be required to have a license from the Colorado Secretary of State. In addition, as part of the license application, DME suppliers are required to sign an affidavit attesting that (1) the supplier has one or more physical locations within Colorado or within 50 miles of the border of Colorado, (2) the supplier has sufficient inventory and staff to service or repair products and (3) the supplier is accredited by an accrediting organization acceptable to the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The DME supplier license application and affidavit are available on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website. Below is a summary of the current DME supplier licensing requirements in Colorado.

What is a “durable medical equipment supplier”?

Under C.R.S. § 24-21-115(1), a “durable medical equipment supplier” means “a person or entity that delivers disposable medical supplies or durable medical equipment directly to a recipient and that currently bills or plans to bill the Medicare program for services or products in the current calendar year.” The term does not include a supplier of insulin infusion pumps and related supplies or services.

Are there any exceptions for out-of-state, mail-order DME suppliers?

No. The applicable Colorado statutes do not provide any exceptions for out-of-state DME suppliers, such as for those DME suppliers delivering products via overnight carrier.

Are there are any specific requirements regarding the types of “physical location”?

No. The applicable Colorado statutes do not specify any requirements for the DME supplier’s physical location, such as minimum space requirements, whether any inventory must be stored on site, whether the location must be owned or can be leased, or whether the physical location must be used for storing inventory or repairing products. As such, it is not clear whether a DME supplier could designate its registered agent’s physical address in Colorado as the DME’s physical location in the State of Colorado. However, the statute does require that a DME supplier prominently display its license at each of its physical business locations as well as list its street address and a local business telephone number on the license application.

Are there any specific requirements regarding whether the DME supplier has “sufficient” inventory or staff?

No. The applicable Colorado statutes do not specify any inventory or staff requirements, such as minimum amount of inventory to be deemed “sufficient,” or whether the inventory or staff must be located in Colorado. In addition, it is possible that “staff” is broader than “employees” and, therefore, could be deemed to include third-party independent contractors. In addition, there is no requirement in the applicable Colorado statutes that the DME supplier’s staff must be Colorado residents. Note, however, that the preamble to HB 14-1369 (which was codified at C.R.S. § 24-21-115) noted the General Assembly's view that access to vital durable medical equipment was being jeopardized by suppliers outside of Colorado that do not, in part, “have Colorado employees to run the businesses.”

Where are the license fees? How long is the term of the license?

The fee for initial and renewal applications is currently $350. The DME supplier license is good for one year.


December 26, 2014
St. Cloud, MN
St. Cloud issues new licenses geared to brewery sales

Beaver Island Brewing Co. was given the OK Monday to open its brewery and tap room in St. Cloud.

Beaver Island was the first enterprise to receive a new type of license created Monday by the St. Cloud City Council — the small brewer off-sale intoxicating liquor license. It also received an on-sale brewery tap room license.

The new license allows the brewery to sell its beer in 64-ounce containers known as growlers. The license costs $200.

Previously, off-sales were allowed at breweries under the off-sale intoxicating liquor license. The city decided to create a special license for breweries to make a distinction between the various types of off-sale licenses.

Beaver Island Brewing Co. is also the first establishment to apply for the taproom license. The license allows the malt liquor produced at the site to be sold and consumed on the premises.

The license costs $200 plus a $500 fee for application review and investigation.

Taprooms must operate under the same restrictions and hours of operations as other businesses with a liquor license. Beaver Island Brewing Co. will operate its taproom on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, according to city documents.

Beaver Island Brewing Co. is part of a growing trend of breweries opening in the region. Lupine Brewing Co. plans to open on St. Cloud's north side, Urban Moose Brewing Co. is coming to Sauk Rapids, and another unnamed brewery plans to open in St. Joseph.

"It's exciting to see these businesses come to town," St. Cloud City Council member Dave Masters said.


December 22, 2014
Albany, NY
How to apply for a medical marijuana license in New York
Albany Business Review

There will be a $10,000 nonrefundable fee to apply for a license to manufacture medical marijuana in New York, state regulators said Thursday.

Additionally, those applicants will also have to write a check for another $200,000, which will be refunded for those that don't receive a license, according to state Department of Health regulations proposed Thursday.

New York would keep that additional $200,000 each from as many as five winners, though details about where the operations will be located remain unclear. State regulators say that is because location decisions will depend upon who applies for licenses, along with other factors.

Those were some of the key takeaways Thursday when the state agency released its proposed regulations for implementing the medical marijuana law. Another is that patients can expect to receive the drug by January 2016.

The state plans to issue licenses to as many as five manufacturers and 20 dispensaries to grow and sell the drug. Licenses are expected in the summer or fall of 2015. State regulators will review public comments in coming weeks before finalizing the regulations.

State officials on Thursday could not provide details about where the licenses would be awarded. They said minimizing travel time for patients is a top priority, although "geographic diversity" is also important.

Other factors involved in approving licenses include reviews of applicants' fiscal details, as well as other aspects of each proposal, such as their plan for meeting public health safety standards.

Addressing reporters and other stakeholders during a phone call, state regulators reiterated some of the safety concerns mentioned by Gov. Andrew Cuomo during debates before the New York became the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana earlier this year. They mostly echoed his comments about focusing on keeping the drug away from non-patients, while closely regulating doctors and other businesses involved in the process.

Patients will pay a $50 fee for an identification card to access medical marijuana, though that could be waived based on income factors. In order to prescribe the drug, doctors will have to be approved by the DOH following a four-hour training course. Pharmacists will also receive training from the health department.

State regulators noted the law allows for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations to pursue the licenses to manufacturer medical marijuana. Pricing of the actual drug will be based on a number of factors, including those tied to making medical marijuana to sufficiently cover associated cost.

Still, the $10,000 application fee is far less than the $1 million application fee for the players that pursued a casino license in New York.

An Albany Business Review story outlined why companies have already been lining up to receive one of the licenses.

The industry also has many legal pitfalls for business because medical marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Here are some other tips from area attorneys for anyone interested in starting a medical marijuana business.

For communities in upstate New York, the stakes are high related to where the cannabis manufacturing and dispensing licenses are issued. The medical marijuana industry is expected to generate millions of dollars in tax revenue from a 7 percent excise tax, with communities involved in the process of distributing the drug sharing in a portion of that revenue.

Here are the proposed regulations from the Department of Health tied to implementing the medical marijuana law in New York, including details about how to apply for licenses.


December 17, 2014
Brighton, CO
Adams County to hold lottery system for 10 marijuana businesses
The Denver Post

Anyone interested in getting into the retail marijuana business can apply for a spot in unincorporated Adams County Jan. 2 to 22.

The Board of County Commissioners voted to adopt its first set of retail marijuana regulations during a public hearing Tuesday. The rules will guide zoning and setbacks for the county's first foray into the industry as well as the process for opening a recreational marijuana store or grow facility next year.

Per staff suggestion, the Board will cap the number of marijuana facilities opening in 2015 at 10 — that's three retail stores, three grow facilities, three infused-product manufacturing facilities and one testing facility.

The county will randomly select those 10 applicants on Jan. 27 and give them 6 months to secure the necessary approvals through the county and state. There is no experience or cash-on-hand requirements to join the lottery system.

"What we're saying is: We want your name, your contact information, what type of business you would like to operate and then it's thrown into the lottery," said Abel Montoya, Adams County planning and development director. "If your name gets selected from the lottery ... you would then proceed to submit for your state license and county permit."

He said, "You would have six months once your name is selected to actually secure your license, building permit and change-of-use permit, and then you may go forward."

If a lottery winner fails to secure all of those things within six months, then the county would go to a waitlist and the next name that was pulled from the lottery will immediately begin the same process to open.

County staff will defer to the state for licensing while the county researches the feasibility of creating a county-controlled licensing authority next year.

Both the cap of 10 businesses and the lottery system will be in effect only through 2015. After that, the county may consider more stores and facilities as long as there is enough space for them to abide by the adopted setback rules.

Those distance parameters include a 1,000-foot store buffer from schools, daycare centers, playgrounds, and public housing facilities, and a 50-foot boundary from residential property. Manufacturing facilities for marijuana-infused products must stay 1,500 feet away from of any residential area.

All industry businesses must be at least 100 feet from churches, youth centers, alcohol or drug rehabilitation facilities, group homes for the developmentally disabled and halfway houses or correctional facilities.

Retail stores also have to be 750 feet away from each other.

The regulations passed 2-1, with Commissioner Erik Hansen voting no.

There was a ban on retail marijuana in unincorporated Adams County through Dec. 31, but the board allowed it to expire after a county ballot initiative to raise and collect 3 percent sales taxes on all retail operations in Adams County passed Nov. 4. That tax goes into countywide effect in July.

There is still a ban on medical marijuana for unincorporated areas, which has no expiration date.

December 12, 2014
Columbus, OH
Columbus to hike, create a variety of fees
The Columbus Dispatch

Facing a tighter budget, Columbus leaders plan to charge businesses more for inspection and permit fees next year to generate an additional $1.2 million.

The Columbus City Council plans to vote on increasing nearly 125 permit and inspection fees and on imposing nearly 30 new fees at its final meeting of the year on Monday. The increases are mostly related to fire-safety and weights-and-measure permits.

The businesses affected by the increases include restaurants, bowling alleys, builders and chemical suppliers.

“Mayor (Michael B.) Coleman had asked all departments to review their list of fees and see if there were updates we could make,” said Amanda Ford, an assistant director in the city’s Department of Public Safety. “Some of the fees had not been updated since 2004, and others in 2007.”

Ford said all the inspections and permits ensure that consumers and the public are protected. She said the increases will mostly cover personnel costs and changes to ensure public safety.

Some of the proposed increases and new fees:

• A new $125 inspection fee will insure bar-code scanning devices at stores work correctly. City officials said inspectors conducted 326 such reviews at 255 businesses at no cost in 2013. Most of those inspections were in response to complaints.

• Licenses for professional fundraising groups will increase to $150 from $100. Groups seeking a charitable-solicitation license will pay $40, up from $25.

• A home day-care permit and inspection will increase to $125 from $95, and commercial day cares will pay $150.

• The city will charge a new $125 inspection and permit fee for tents and canopies erected by businesses. This does not include permanent canopies used by restaurants unless the addition puts the restaurant over its allowable occupancy.

• Several hazardous- material inspections will increase to $125 from $100, including for lane-refinishing chemicals that bowling alleys use, dry-cleaning operations, industrial furnaces and repairs to parking garages.

• New fees, all under $60, will be implemented for inspecting air hoses at gas stations, pet-wash machines, private-parking meters and electric-vehicle charging stations.

Business owners said yesterday that the increases have not been communicated well enough. A public hearing on Wednesday evening at City Hall drew little outside attention.

Randy Sokol, a member of the Central Ohio Restaurant Association and chairman of the group’s political-action committee, said the city needs to understand the impact of the fee increases given Columbus’ stable financial status.

“I didn’t realize that the city was in that kind of trouble that they had to create new revenue at the expense of businesses,” he said. “I think sometimes government looks at $25 as not being a lot, but when you see all areas increasing, those all add up, and that impedes growth and expansion.”

Coleman’s edict to find more revenue comes after he proposed a nearly flat operating budget for the city of $813 million for 2015. The city’s approved budget for this year was about $807 million.

City Auditor Hugh J. Dorrian sent Coleman a memo last summer warning that the city was in danger of running a deficit. Coleman responded by telling cabinet directors to restrict hiring and review fines and fees.

Dorrian blamed the dwindling budget surplus on state cuts totaling more than $30 million. Coleman also has added more than $10 million in new programs the past few years.

Those programs had not been created or discussed when he and other city officials asked voters to raise the city’s income tax to 2.5 percent, from 2 percent, in 2009.

That increase has poured millions into the city’s budget. This year, the city is expected to take in $102 million more in income tax than in 2010.

Dorrian is predicting another 3 percent gain in income-tax revenue next year.

In addition to the inspection and licensing fees, the council will consider a $5 increase in parking-violation fines that is expected to generate an additional $850,000 a year.

“I’m a little surprised that we didn’t know more about it, but overall I don’t think it’s anything for us to jump up and down over too much,” said Scott Heimlich, owner of the Barcelona Restaurant and president of the restaurant association.

“I don’t think the increases are astronomical, and each year we are going to see all of our costs increase ... and then we have to pass those costs on to consumers.”


December 10, 2014
Boston, MA
Boston moving licensing and permitting to the cloud

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced that the city will upgrade its permitting and licensing system.

Working with Accela, a provider of civic engagement solutions for government, and OpenCounter, a firm that builds tools to support local economic development, the city’s Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) will design and deploy a modern system to manage the 86,000 permits the city issues annually.

The companies will work with DoIT to build and deploy a modern, cloud-based permitting system that will work across departments to help coordinate workflow, integrate backend systems and provide an improved public experience.

The Accela Civic Platform offers a foundation for creating a two-way flow of data that helps agencies and citizens engage online and improves the permit and license experience for applicants ranging from homeowners to experienced contractors.

Accela and OpenCounter will deliver the first phase of the new system in a six-month timeframe, with enhancements to occur over a two-year period. Both companies have provided solutions in Boston and in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Accela software and services are in use by the Boston Public Health Commission and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Division of Professional Licensure, Office

“We’ve already made deep improvements to the way the public does business with the City by taking steps to streamline and improve licensing and permitting operations, but there’s always more to be done,” said Mayor Walsh. “This partnership with Accela and OpenCounter will take us further, creating a coordinated and seamless experience across departments for residents and business owners seeking permitting and licensing through the city.”


December 8, 2014
Tacoma, WA
Tacoma to tell unlicensed pot shops to close by summer
The News Tribune

By summer, Tacoma city officials hope to rid the city of all marijuana shops except a handful of state-licensed stores.

The Tacoma City Council told staff Tuesday to get ready to shut down unlicensed marijuana businesses, many of which cater to medical pot users. Letters telling business owners to cease operations could be mailed by early next year.

Five stores operating under Initiative 502’s regulatory framework for recreational marijuana have opened in Tacoma this year, according to city staff. Under state licensing guidelines, the state Liquor Control Board could permit three more.

But those licensed recreational stores would still be vastly outnumbered by the unlicensed shops, which city staff say number at least 56.

Unlicensed marijuana stores do not pay the high taxes that state-licensed stores do, nor are they subject to the strict regulations that recreational pot businesses must obey. This amounts to an unfair playing field, said Mayor Marilyn Strickland.

“You have people who have gone through the rules of trying to establish a legitimate business and they are being undercut by people doing illegitimate business,” Strickland said.

Cities around the state have hoped the Legislature would address how to fold medical marijuana into the legal recreational market. But so far the state has not, forcing cities like Tacoma to act.

“We do not have the type of regulatory guidance that the state deserved to give us, and now we are left to make sure our community isn’t burned by this,” said Councilman Robert Thoms.

Four years ago, the city sent cease-and-desist letters to eight medical marijuana dispensaries, but later backed off. Council members wanted people who had permission from a doctor to use marijuana to have access to it without having to resort to street dealers.

But since then, voters have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and the state Liquor Control Board has established rules for the plant and its products, from growing and processing to the retail shelf — rules that don’t apply to the products being sold in medical marijuana and unlicensed shops.

Medical marijuana shops operate in a gray area of the law. Collective gardens remain legal, but City Attorney Elizabeth Pauli said many of the Tacoma unlicensed shops don’t even try to comply with the state definition for collective gardens.

On Tuesday, Pauli presented four options for dealing with the unlicensed stores. Council members picked the toughest approach.

“I’m ready to fire a shot across the bow and tell the illegal operations that it’s time to stop,” said Councilwoman Lauren Walker, who has supported legal access to medical marijuana and whose late husband tried medical marijuana in 2011. “I did not respect the business model that was used in the early days. I am a believer of the business model we have now.”

Council members questioned the legitimacy of the so-called “green cards,” which give patients permission to buy medical marijuana. Strickland said she can’t prove the unlicensed stores are selling exclusively to patients.

Pauli said she could hire the staff necessary to follow through on enforcement by early next year. At around that time, the city will send letters to illegally operating marijuana stores to close within 90 days. Business owners can appeal but will not be allowed to operate during the appeal period, she said.

Residents will still be able to buy marijuana from the state-licensed retail stores. If they have a medical marijuana card from a health care professional, they can grow pot for personal use.


December 5, 2014
Danville, VA
State Crime Commission proposes cigarette licenses for stores

The Virginia State Crime Commission wants the state to regulate tobacco.

The group is proposing a law that would require businesses that sell cigarettes to have a license.

This would be similar to stores having a license to sell alcohol. Some store managers say it's unnecessary "big brother government". Regulators say it could fight black market sales.

Members are pushing this as an incentive for stores to obey laws if the state has the option to pull their license to sell cigarettes.

A tobacco store employee in Danville says this is a good idea.

"I think some things are not regulated as well as they could be. If you're going to regulate alcohol you've got tobacco right in that same category. I think it's good business for the owners to do that and jump on it and support it," said Martha Lugar, an employee at Sammy's Tobacco in Danville.

She says she'll support it even if that means extra costs for the license or extra fees to buy cigarettes.

"People are going to smoke. That's the best way I can put it. I know people who would rather have a cigarette than food, I know that's kind of sad," Lugar said.

Virginia has the second lowest cigarette tax in the nation, which is a big pull for out-of-state buyers to stock up and sell elsewhere.

Some members of the commission say a new law could stop those buyers while others say regulating businesses isn't the solution.

This is in response to a crime commission report last month that indirectly tied Virginia's illegal cigarette trafficking to terrorist groups.

The report found up to 20,000 cartons of cigarettes were smuggled in New York and Virginia from people associated with Hammas and Hezbollah which resulted in $55 million dollars in sales.

This is a bill for the 2015 General Assembly. It's been brought up before but has succeeded.


December 5, 2014
Tybee Island, GA
Tybee officials to audit vacation rentals to find unpaid taxes
Savannah Now

There could be several factors to credit for a recent jump in Tybee Island’s room tax collections, but city officials say one big reason is a renewed effort to catch lodging businesses that aren’t paying their fair share.

Tybee Island City Manager Diane Schleicher said city staff in recent months has been seeking out and catching vacation rentals that have been operating without a business license and shirking their contributions to the island’s hotel/motel and sales tax coffers.

The main goal of the effort is fairness, Schleicher said, but the work has also resulted in the collection of thousands of dollars in previously unpaid taxes.

In one case, the city was able to collect $30,000 in back taxes and penalties from a single business, said Keith Gay, a Tybee real estate agent and chairman of the Tybee Island Tourism Council.

“There are ... thousands and thousands of dollars that are not being collected or are being collected and not being reimbursed to the city,” Gay said. “It’s significant. I’m guessing on the island, there’s probably 600 to 800 properties that are rented. If 10 percent are managed individually and they’re not paying taxes, it’s meaningful.”

Sales taxes support beach management and other improvements that aid in making the city a draw for visitors, said Amy Gaster, owner of Tybee Vacation Rentals and founder of the Tybee Island Association of Rental Agents.

At the same time, Schleicher said, half of the 6 percent room tax charged to hotels, motels, condominiums, bed and breakfasts and other short-term vacation rentals goes to the city’s general fund, where it aids in maintaining infrastructure.

The remaining half is devoted to Tybee’s tourism industry, where it is used to help promote the town as a vacation destination. That’s why it’s crucial that all lodging businesses contribute, she said.

“If you’re renting out a house, if you’re not paying hotel/motel or state sales tax, it’s a fairness issue,” Schleicher said Monday. “It’s about everybody being on the same level playing field and being host to the visitors. Regardless of what we collect, which we work hard to do, people want everybody to be treated the same.”

The problem isn’t a new one for Tybee. Schleicher said city officials have searched for nonconforming rental companies since she took office in 2006, but the city only recently assigned an employee to work consistently to locate rentals that don’t pay their taxes.

Gay said research has yielded three categories of individuals who don’t pay some or all of their share of the 6 percent hotel/motel and 7 percent sales taxes.

One group is made up of individuals who have property they rent themselves. The second includes those who represent property owners and manage properties. The final group consists of marketers who collect fees on behalf of an owner but don’t pass those on to the city.

Gay said members of all three groups have been known to either not collect taxes at all or to collect fees they never pay to the city and state governments.

“The law is that if you’re going to rent your house for a vacation rental and you publicize it, you’re required to purchase a license from the city of Tybee,” he said. “You must collect and resubmit 13 percent to the city, and it covers all items — rent, housekeeping, any administrative fees or damage policies — they collect it on the full amount.”

Gaster said some of those found to be out of compliance may not know the rules.

Short-term vacation rentals are a growing segment of the island’s lodging industry. At last count, short-term rentals contributed 68 percent of the city’s hotel/motel tax collections. Owners who are new to rentals might not know what’s required of them, Gaster said.

“Our business ... (has) a trickle down effect on our whole economy. It’s really important that everybody is contributing to ... putting money back into the infrastructure,” Gaster said. “One goal we can all agree upon is compliance. That’s just a no-brainer. To me the most important thing is to get people moving forward and on the right track.”

For the rentals that advertise online or in print, it’s an easy catch, Schleicher said, and the city can do an analysis of a suspected vacation rental’s utility bills to check for inconsistencies.

Other tactics are harder to pin down.

“If it’s a word-of-mouth situation, it’s a lot harder,” she said.

Gaster said the industry at present is incredibly competitive, which makes it easier for other individuals in the business to find out when a vacation rental is charging a fee that doesn’t include the 13 percent tax. She said the association of rental agents has agreed to pass the names of those suspected of not paying their taxes on to city.

Schleicher said Tybee officials are preparing for an audit of all lodging properties that hold a city business license to ensure they’re paying taxes correctly.

The audit could affect a broad spectrum of people who represent rentals but don’t properly report taxes, Gay said.

“What’s good news for the industry and the city is (city staff) are taking a proactive posture, and they’re actively going after those who are not participating and playing by the rules,” Gay said.


December 3, 2014
Mesquite, NV
Mesquite City Council approves med pot facilities
The Spectrum

There was surprisingly not a peep from those who attended Tuesday’s regular city council meeting during the public hearing for the medical marijuana facilities conditional use permit and business license approval.

Crowds packed city hall in July and August and pleaded the council not to pass ordinances allowing medical marijuana facilities to come to Mesquite.

The council, however, voted 4-1 to pass the ordinances.

Deep Roots Medical Production applied with the state to put a medical marijuana cultivation and production facility as well as a dispensary in Mesquite, and was approved.

Tuesday, the council held a public hearing for each type of facility but the naysayers remained silent.

Councilman Kraig Hafen, who has voiced opposition to medical marijuana in Mesquite, said he met with Deep Roots representatives and has nothing against them personally, however, he doesn’t believe in the product for Mesquite.

Hafen voted against each facility.

The facilities will be located at 195 Willis Carrier Canyon, behind Fire Station 3 on John Deere Road.

A dispensary is a business that “acquires, possesses, delivers, transfers, transports, supplies, sells or dispenses marijuana or related supplies and educational materials” to a medical marijuana card holder, according to Nevada Revised Statute 453A.115.

NRS 453A.056 states a cultivation facility “acquires, possesses, cultivates, delivers, transfers, transports, supplies or sells marijuana and related supplies to a medical marijuana dispensary; facilities for the production of edible marijuana products or marijuana-infused products or other cultivation facilities.”

Branan Allison, with Deep Roots Medical, thanked council for trusting the group and proceeding with the approvals for the facilities.

“We are 100 percent committed to being a positive member of this community,” Allison said. “We’re going to be here for you.”

In other business, the council accepted a prioritized list for use of the Community Development Block Grant funds.

Council put multipurpose fields at Hafen Park at the top of the list, followed by Pickleball courts and rubberized playgrounds as third.

The council also approved a blanket variance for several homes in Santa Theresa Estates, whose garages are built too close to the sidewalk due to a developer error.

As a result, cars hang over the sidewalk when parked in the driveway, which is against city code.

Council members agreed, however, to not punish the homeowners and approved the variance.


December 3, 2014
Buffalo, NY
Another Voice: New law addresses growing thirst for craft beverages
Buffalo News

The glory days of Buffalo’s brewing history used to conjure memories of when the William Simon, Phoenix, Iroquois and other breweries populated the city. Now, with craft breweries located from the waterfront to Larkinville, the Southern Tier and beyond, not to mention the region’s wineries, distilleries and growing number of cider producers, Western New York is once again seeing momentum and excitement in the beverage industry.

Thanks to a recently signed piece of legislation, more growth could be on tap.

Industry regulations place numerous restrictions on production, operation, sales and marketing of products, to go along with stringent licensing requirements. Such restrictions can effectively put a stranglehold on the ability of small operators to reach consumers in a meaningful way. At the same time, there has been a growing demand across the state and nationally for local craft beverage products in recent years.

The 2014 Craft New York Act, which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently signed into law, will bring important changes to the beverage industry, bolstering the ability of small, locally owned manufacturers of beer, wine, spirits and cider to grow their business.

The new law revises statutes affecting these license holders: brewers, farm brewers, cider producers, Class A-1, B-1 and farm distilleries, wineries and farm wineries. Minimum production thresholds were implemented across each of these categories, and the maximum production thresholds will increase. This will allow license holders to grow their business without the need to apply for a different type of license, a requirement that could have been cost-prohibitive.

Furthermore, the new law enacts changes regarding the ability of certain beverage manufacturers to operate retail establishments, such as a restaurant or hotel, on or adjacent to the manufacturing premises.

As evidenced by these changes, the Craft New York Act resonates with concepts of affordability to conduct business in New York State and supporting and promoting the growth of local New York businesses. Just as we have seen in Western New York, an increasing number of people across New York State are seeking to formalize their enthusiasm for local craft alcoholic beverages into an active business, leading to a flood of activity in all segments of the industry.

From the beverage manufacturers themselves to the supply chains that support their work, the beverage industry is impacting local and regional economies across New York State. Under the new regulatory environment established by the 2014 Craft New York Act, more local companies will be able to taste the distinct flavor of success.

Phillip A. Delmont and Katherine A. Markert are members of the Alcohol and Beverage practice group at Harter Secrest & Emery.


December 1, 2014
Coolidge, AZ
New license fees levied on marijuana-based businesses

As the demand for medical marijuana continues to increase, the city of Coolidge has decided that it’s time to be ready for the growth of that industry.

The city council unanimously approved the adoption of new business license fees for both medical marijuana-based businesses and sexually-oriented businesses, establishing a $500 investigation fee, a $250 business license fee and a $200-per-employee annual fee.

The investigation fee would allow for the police department and other interested parties to make sure the businesses are complying with the strict laws of the city and state. Finance Director Lisa Pannella admitted that this probably should have been done years ago when the need first arose, but now it’s time to prepare for the future.

Even though Coolidge already has one dispensary, which is all that is allowed, more cultivation sites can come into Coolidge, at which time these fees would come into effect.

Pannella also implied an additional motivation for implementing these fees.

“When we set our fees for the sexually oriented businesses, we set it higher because we wanted to discourage that type of business from coming in,” Pannella said.


December 1, 2014
Frisco, TX
Frisco Bars Start Looking for Late Night Permits

A new Frisco ordinance about late night alcohol sales goes into effect on Friday.

It extends the hours bars and restaurants can be open and serving – now until 2 a.m. Previously, the bars were open until midnight every night but Saturday, when they could sell until 1 a.m.

At Wild Pitch in Frisco, general manager Robert Verich says his restaurant already has a 2 a.m. permit from the TABC, which it obtained seven years ago, when Frisco allowed late night sales for a short time.

He said the TABC told him the permit would still apply when the city changed its policy.

"We have a permit that says we can stay open until 2 – I guess we’re going to find out," Verich said.

He added that while the restaurant likely won’t extend hours seven days a week, the new ordinance will give them wiggle room without breaking the law.

"If we plan on closing at 12, then we don’t have to hurry someone up and take their food and drink away from them,” he said, adding he would also like to see the city change its food to alcohol ratio, as he believes the later hours will tip sales more toward alcohol.

Other businesses tell NBC5 they are starting the application process as soon as possible.

At One 2 One Restaurant and Bar, owner Amy Cole says they hope to be up and running with their late night permit by New Year’s Eve.

According to a city website, the Frisco City Secretary’s office will begin accepting TABC Late Hours Permit Applications at the start of business on Monday, December 1st.


November 20, 2014
New York, NY
Halliburton, Baker Hughes Merge in $34.6 Billion Deal
DealBook- NY Times

Halliburton agreed on Monday to buy its rival Baker Hughes for about $34.6 billion, uniting two big oil field services providers in a friendly deal only days after a hostile takeover battle appeared to be brewing.

But the tie-up raises questions about whether the takeover will survive antitrust scrutiny, given the level of consolidation that it promises within the oil production services business.

The deal came after an announcement by Baker Hughes on Friday that Halliburton had submitted a list of board nominees after talks between the two companies broke down. Halliburton’s submission suggested that it was willing to go hostile if rebuffed.

A merger would help the two companies, both based in Houston, compete better against Schlumberger, which is by far the leader in oil field services.

Combining the two companies would merge two decades-old competitors in the oil field services business. Halliburton was founded in 1919, and has since become one of the leading suppliers of equipment for hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking — the drilling technique underpinning the American energy boom.

Over the years, Halliburton has been involved in several prominent events in the industry. It pleaded guilty to destroying evidence and agreed to pay a large settlement over losses suffered from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. Former Vice President Dick Cheney served as chairman and chief executive of the company for a number of years, and it and its subsidiaries were involved with rebuilding contracts in Iraq after the gulf war.

Baker Hughes was created in 1987 with the union of Baker International and the Hughes Tool Company, both of which date back to the early 20th century. Among the products that the company’s predecessors created is a rotary bit for drilling wells through rock.

The combined company will keep the Halliburton name and will be led by David J. Lesar, the current chairman and chief executive of Halliburton.

Together, the two are expected to save nearly $2 billion in costs through a combination of operations and research and development.

Halliburton and Baker Hughes began discussions in mid-October, during a steep drop in crude oil prices driven by the boom in domestic energy production. Investors have worried that the two companies would face pressure from oil and natural gas producers to lower prices, reducing profit margins.

Yet during negotiations, Halliburton initially declined to raise its initial bid or commit to paying a termination fee if the deal could not clear regulatory review, according to correspondence released by Baker Hughes last week. The two appeared to hit an impasse by midweek, prompting Halliburton to threaten an effort to oust the entire Baker Hughes board as a way to restart discussions.

After those details emerged in public, however, the two sides resumed negotiations, with Halliburton eventually raising its bid.

“Each of us has negotiated hard for the best deal for our shareholders,” Mr. Lesar said on a call with analysts.

Under the terms of the transaction, Halliburton will pay 1.12 of its shares and $19 in cash for each Baker Hughes share. That offer was valued at about $78.62 a share on Nov. 12, the day before news of their discussions became public.

With the friendly deal reached on Monday, Halliburton has withdrawn its director nominees. Shareholders of Baker Hughes will own about 36 percent of the combined company.

A major question about the proposed takeover will be the reaction of antitrust regulators. To that end, Halliburton has agreed to sell off businesses that generate up to $7.5 billion in revenue to appease the federal government. Mr. Lesar told analysts on Monday that his team and its advisers had already begun to identify potential buyers for any operations that would need to be sold.

Halliburton will also have to pay a larger-than-average $3.5 billion breakup fee if the transaction fails to win the requisite antitrust approvals.

Analysts appeared supportive of the deal — with a few saying so in a conference call with the chief executives of both companies Monday morning. “It’s actually rare that you see a transaction that makes this much sense happen,” Ole Slorer, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, said on the call.

And James Crandell of Cowen & Company said, “I think it’s kind of obvious this is a great deal,” though he followed up with a question about whether the proposed deal would pass regulatory scrutiny.

Investors appeared split on those prospects. Shares of Baker Hughes closed up about 9 percent on Monday. Halliburton shares were down more than 10 percent, as its shareholders appeared concerned about the price of the transaction and the size of the breakup fee.

Halliburton would finance the cash portion of the deal through a combination of cash on hand and debt financing through Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse.

Credit Suisse is serving as lead financial adviser to Halliburton, while Bank of America Merrill Lynch and the law firms Baker Botts and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz are also advising the company.

Goldman Sachs and the law firms Davis Polk & Wardwell and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr are advising Baker Hughes.


November 20, 2014
New York, NY
Allergan Escapes Valeant’s Pursuit, Agreeing to Be Bought by Actavis
Dealbook-NY Times

After seven months of bids, bluster and lawsuits, the hedge fund manager William A. Ackman and Valeant Pharmaceuticals appear to be giving up their pursuit of Allergan, the maker of Botox, as another big drug maker has trumped their hostile bid.

Allergan agreed on Monday to be acquired for $66 billion by Actavis in a deal worth $219 a share in cash and stock. The deal would be the biggest ever for Actavis and the largest acquisition in a year full of big deals, eclipsing Comcast’s $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable and AT&T’s $48.5 billion purchase of DirecTV. It would be the third-largest health care deal ever in the United States, according to Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ.

The deal capitalizes on a previous inversion deal by Actavis and presents a monumental roadblock for Valeant and Mr. Ackman, the unlikely consortium that teamed up in April to start what became the hostile campaign for Allergan.

In a statement after the announcement of the Actavis deal, Valeant’s chief executive, J. Michael Pearson, said, “While we will review any such agreement in determining our course of action, Valeant cannot justify to its own shareholders paying a price of $219 or more per share for Allergan.”

Actavis was until recently based in Parsippany, N.J. But last year it agreed to acquire an Irish drug maker, Warner Chilcott, and relocate its headquarters abroad, striking one of the first big so-called inversions.

Actavis’s deal to move abroad and reduce its tax bill caught the attention of other drug companies and set off a rush of similar deals. Soon the exodus of big corporations was drawing scorn from regulators in Washington, and in September the Treasury Department passed new rules to make it harder for companies that strike inversions to save on taxes.

But because Actavis had already completed its move abroad, it was exempt from the new Treasury rules and will be able to pay lower taxes on Allergan’s international sales. Actavis already took advantage of its newfound financial flexibility as an Irish company this year when it acquired Forest Laboratories.

In an indication of the financial benefits of its move to Ireland, Actavis said its effective tax rate would be about 15 percent after the deal closed, well below the statutory corporate tax rate in the United States.

Actavis is offering a significantly higher price than Valeant and Mr. Ackman’s firm, Pershing Square Capital Management, could muster. In April, they opened their bidding for Allergan at $47 billion. A series of raises brought their offer to a current value of about $53 billion.

And in a recent letter to Allergan’s board, Mr. Pearson said his group could offer cash and stock worth up to $200 a share if Allergan would come to the bargaining table.

But Actavis’s offer of $219 a share appears to put Allergan out of reach for Valeant and Pershing Square. Shares of Allergan rose $10.55, or 5.3 percent, to $209.20, still below the takeover price.

The Actavis deal is something of a vindication for Allergan’s chief executive, David E. I. Pyott. For much of the year, he and Allergan’s board had been under attack from analysts, investors and shareholder advisory firms for resisting the approaches by Valeant and Pershing Square. Allergan sought to prevent the two from nominating directors to replace the Allergan board and sued them in federal court in California.

A main argument Mr. Pyott made for the resistance was that Valeant was a fundamentally unsound company, built on a rapid series of acquisitions with little underlying growth. He also assailed Valeant’s reputation for sharply reducing spending on research and development. For these reasons, Mr. Pyott said, it would be irresponsible to sell the company for compensation consisting largely of Valeant stock.

For Valeant and Pershing Square, the sale of Allergan to Actavis will not be not a total loss. Mr. Ackman’s firm owns 9.7 percent of Allergan and will profit handsomely.

“Today’s transaction provides Allergan stockholders with substantial and immediate value, as well as the opportunity to participate in the significant upside potential of the combined company,” Mr. Pyott said in a statement. “We are combining with a partner that is ideally suited to realize the full potential inherent in our franchise. Together with Actavis, we are poised to extend the Allergan growth story as part of a larger organization with a broad and balanced portfolio, a meaningful commitment to research and development, a strong pipeline and an unwavering focus on exceeding the expectations of patients and the medical specialists who treat them.”

Combining Actavis and Allergan will create one of the 10 largest global drug makers, with about $23 billion in revenue expected next year. Cost savings could total $1.8 billion annually, the companies said. The deal will combine Allergan’s blockbuster product, Botox, with a suite of Actavis drugs in areas like women’s health and dermatology.

Allergan stockholders will receive $129.22 in cash and 0.3683 of an Actavis share for each of their shares. The price represents about a 54 percent premium to Allergan’s price before Valeant and Pershing Square began their takeover effort and is more than double the share price a year ago.

In a call with investors, Actavis management said it would keep spending on research and development, contrasting Valeant’s pledges to reduce research spending.

“We are committed to R.&D.,” said Brent Saunders, the chief executive of Actavis. “It is the lifeblood of our company.”

Despite losing out on his bid to help acquire the company, Mr. Ackman’s fund will reap a profit of $2.6 billion on its 9.7 percent stake in Allergan. It will share 15 percent of that, or about $389 million, with Valeant, which trumpeted its future prospects.

“Our business is performing extremely well, as evidenced by our third-quarter results, our expected strong fourth quarter and our robust outlook for 2015, and I am confident in our continued ability to generate exceptional shareholder value,” Mr. Pearson said.

Pershing Square did not immediately comment on the agreement between Actavis and Allergan.

JPMorgan advised Actavis, and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton provided legal advice. Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch advised Allergan, and Latham & Watkins, Richards, Layton & Finger, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz provided legal advice.


November 19, 2014
Harrisburg, PA
Welcome, Uber X; goodbye government-sanctioned monopolies

The innovative ride-sharing service that Uber X offers, using independent drivers dispatched by smart phone, is eventually going to end the outdated, cumbersome, consumer-unfriendly way government now regulates the taxi industry.

Uber X has won state Public Utility Commission permission to operate in Harrisburg and most other parts of the state, except some rural counties and Philadelphia.

It was a long, hard fight because Uber X's business model challenges the government-regulated, competition-suppressing structure of today's taxi business.

It's clear that the old-fashioned way of regulating the taxi industry is on the way out.

Governments typically limit the number of taxis or taxi companies that can operate in an area, dictate the rates they can charge and set safety rules for operators.

This arrangement is supposed to protect consumers from being gouged and ensure drivers and taxi companies can make decent money while operating vehicles that are safe. (The fear was that unlimited competition would drive down rates to the point that drivers and cab companies, desperate to make a living, would skip necessary repairs and possibly rip off riders.)

But government regulation of taxis hasn't worked out so well. Service can be spotty, drivers can run up fares by taking round-about routes, and the cabs, while mechanically safe, can be pretty tired and worn.

On top of all that, artificially limiting who can compete in the taxi business by capping the total number of taxis that can operate, as some large U.S. cities like Philadelphia do, produces an economic windfall to permit owners.

In those places, just one permit can cost tens of thousands of dollars — far beyond what most individual cab drivers could afford. Permits there are typically bought by entrepreneurs who own or cooperate with cab companies, which then hire drivers as "independent contractors." Each day a driver works, a big chunk of the fares goes for the cost of using one of those artificially-limited, government-issued permits.

Because government permission to run a taxi business in a given area is valuable, their owners will spend money on lawyers, lobbyists and even campaign contributions to persuade government regulators to protect their interests. Drivers and passengers have far less influence in the process.

When government regulators consider improving service for customers by expanding the number of taxi companies or taxi permits, existing taxi companies say, "You can't do that. You'll slash the value of my business." It takes considerable money and time to fight back for the right to compete, as Uber X showed.

Ride-sharing services like Uber X are showing that there's another way to protect consumers and allow drivers make a decent living.

The smart phone revolution enables consumers to get information about the ride they will buy — photos of the driver and the vehicle, the driver's ratings by other riders, and a firm price for the trip.

Drivers pay a flat 20 percent for Uber's services – unlike a traditional cab company, where a driver can work all night and not cover fixed costs.

In Uber's system, drivers can also evaluate riders. That can improve safety for drivers, but it also creates the potential for discrimination, if residents of certain neighborhoods are routinely denied service.

The state utility commission, which held exhaustive hearings on the issue last summer, set some reasonable conditions on Uber X's operation, during what will be a two-year experiment. Its drivers will have to have background checks and proper insurance, and no vehicle older than eight years is permitted.

Those kinds of safety and quality of service regulations will need to continue. But it's clear that the old-fashioned way of regulating the taxi industry is on the way out. It has been a great deal for those who own the taxi operating permits. It's not so great for drivers or the passengers they carry.


November 18, 2014
Harrisburg, PA
Harrisburg's new treasurer ran business without a license

Another Harrisburg Treasurer, another discrepancy being reviewed. Tyrell Spradley, Harrisburg's replacement for the replacement for the ousted City Treasurer, has a potential problem with personal finances.

Heads were shaking and deep sighs were heard when city officials learned the latest person selected to become City Treasurer has an issue with his application.

Tyrell Spradley, 30, was selected by City Council last week to become Harrisburg's third treasurer within four months. According to the Harrisburg Tax Office, Spradley's business listed on his resume is not listed on tax rolls.

Spradley listed he is the owner of Harrisburg-based Minotaur Services LLC, from 2011 to present on his City Treasurer application form. The tax office said there is no record of Spradley ever purchasing a business license and therefore he never paid the required mercantile taxes. Until he provides how much income was generated under Minotaur Services LLC, the tax office said they are unsure of the amount of taxes owed.

On the night Spradley was selected by City Council, he told abc27 the past issues with the Treasurer's Office inspired him to give the chair a clean slate.

"It started off when I actually read about some of the incidents that happened with the second ago...previous treasurer," Spradley said.

He was referring to Timothy East. Last month, East resigned after it became public he once filed for personal bankruptcy, a move that could prohibit him to receive the required bond as Harrisburg City Treasurer.

In September, East was specially selected by City Council following the abrupt resignation of former City Treasurer John Campbell, who was charged with theft unrelated to city business.

Spradely, was not home nor were calls returned to his office of employment in West Chester.

On Oct. 21, City Solicitor Neil Grover held a press conference to announce the resignation of Timothy East and outlined the protocol for the uncharted territory.

"The Office of City Treasurer starts over with a vacancy," he said.

At the time, City Solicitor Neil Grover chalked it up as a mistake all around.

"You live and learn,” he said. “There will be more financial questions on an application. Of course, you would do that. Obviously, you'll want to drill down a little bit more."

According to the application, one question asked if the applicant owned any properties or business within the City of Harrisburg. Spradley responded, “Yes. Home” and listed his address.

He did not list Minotaur Services LLC, in this area. But, he did list his tax and accounting practice under his resume attached to the application.

A request for a statement or response was sent to the City Council's Chief Clerk regarding the next steps given the new information. In an email, Grover did not believe the issue would prevent Spradley from being issued the bond.

The tax office said Spradley did apply for a business license for Minotaur Services LLC just hours before City Council selected him to fulfill the Treasurer's Office.


November 14, 2014
Castle Rock, WA
Some Castle Rock businesses operating without city license
The Daily News Online

Castle Rock city council members are looking into recent revelations that some businesses in town are operating without mandatory city business licenses.

Mayor Paul Helenberg acknowledged during an October budget workshop that there are several unlicensed businesses that have yet to be penalized — an issue of which some council members said they were unaware.

“I don’t think it’s any of the new businesses. I think it’s the businesses who have been here for a long time that don’t pay,” Helenberg said in October.

Helenberg was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Councilwoman Ellen Rose, who also has owned the Mount St. Helens Motel for 33 years, said she didn’t know about the unlicensed businesses but is looking further into the problem.

“How can you run a legitimate business and have no license?” Rose said Tuesday. “I see no reason not to be licensed.”

There are 247 businesses licensed with the city. Businesses owners pay a $75 annual fee, reduced to $50 if they apply after July 1. The city collects about $14,000 in annual business license revenue.

Businesses are sent annual renewal notifications as well as a second reminder if payment isn’t received during the renewal period. If that notification is ignored, then the case is turned over to the city attorney, City Clerk/Treasurer Ryana Covington said Tuesday.

In October, Covington said owners without business licenses would be charged with a misdemeanor. She said she has been trying to change the ordinance to reduce the charge to a civil infraction.

“The (businesses) we’re aware of, we send out license applications to them,” she said. “(But), just like in Longview or Kelso, you don’t have 100 percent compliance for all the businesses that are there.”

Helenberg said Castle Rock would have to hire a nuisance officer to find the businesses in violation — something the cash-strapped city can’t necessarily afford to do.

“It’s one of those things that’s hard to police,” he said in October.

Local business owners also were divided on the problem.

Phil Link, owner of the Four Corners General Store at 4858 Westside Highway, said he didn’t know some businesses weren’t paying license fees but thought they should be fined if they’re not.

“They seem to fine you for everything else,” Link said Wednesday. “It should be the same for everybody. How can they enforce it? I don’t know.”

Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce Vice President Laura England, who owns the Castle Rock Barber Shop at 101 Front Ave. SW, said it’s none of her business if an owner doesn’t pay city fees.

“It’s between them and the city. It’d be like if someone came up to me and said, ‘Are you aware some of them aren’t paying their PUD bill?’ ” England said Wednesday. “It’s just really not that big of a deal.”


November 13, 2014
Weymouth, MA
Weymouth imposing regulations for 'bodywork' businesses
The Patriot Ledger

Come Jan. 1 previously unregulated businesses offering a range of so-called bodywork services will have to obtain licenses from the town and have all owners and employees undergo background checks.

In a move that could soon be followed by other communities, Weymouth’s board of health enacted regulations to close a loophole created in 2006 when the state took over regulation of massage businesses but exempted those offering services like Asian bodywork, reflexology and acupressure.

Police and local health officials say leaving those businesses unregulated could create a haven for prostitution and human trafficking.

“We felt this industry should be regulated,” Health Director Daniel McCormack said. “There’s direct contact with others, potential for communicable disease transmission and that type of one-on-one contact that leads to potential problems like prostitution and human trafficking.”

Quincy and Hingham are both considering imposing similar restrictions on bodyworks businesses.

McCormack said there are 16 businesses that Weymouth officials believe are offering bodywork services. Those businesses were all notified prior to a Nov. 5 public hearing during which the board voted to approve the new regulations. No members of the public spoke during the hearing.

McCormack said his office did hear from some massage and bodywork businesses backing the new regulations.

The department is preparing applications to hand deliver to each of those businesses so they can seek to get licenses by the Jan. 1 deadline.

“We’re hoping that will be enough (time),” McCormack said. “If we don’t get them all by Jan. 1st we’ll continue to work with them till we get them all licensed.”

The new regulations also give the health department the ability to inspect such businesses twice a year.

Businesses will also have to display a pamphlet from the U.S. Department of State on human trafficking. The town could suspend or revoke a business’s license or impose fines of up to $500 per offense per day if the business is found in violation.

In 2013, police arrested Jia Zhao and charged him with raping a woman at Happy Feet Reflexology in Weymouth. Zhao, who gave his address as the business, is still awaiting trial. The health department worked on drafting the new regulations for more than a year, with input from police.

“These regulations will help the legitimate businesses,” Weymouth police Capt. Richard Fuller said. “It will put the sketchy ones, hopefully, out of business.”


November 13, 2014
Stanton, CA
Business Time: A Morro Bay business license audit is ruffling feathers
New Times

To get an idea of what can happen after an audit from Municipal Auditing Services (MAS), look no further than an April 2013 lawsuit filed by Stanton-based Hospitality Enterprise Management, otherwise known as 007 Showgirls.

The lawsuit came after MAS was contracted to review business licenses and unpaid fees in Stanton, a city west of Anaheim. As a result of that audit, Stanton officials asked 007 Showgirls for additional business license fees, according to the lawsuit. And each of 007 Showgirls’ dancers was asked to pay $369 for a business license and $94 per year for each subsequent year; then they would have to pay separate fees for every location at which they danced.

“Through MAS, the city has announced that it will charge the fees for each location even if the dancer only dances there once,” according to the lawsuit.

Hospitality Enterprise Management dropped its lawsuit against MAS and the city, but the case provides some insight into how audits of unpaid business license fees can have unexpected consequences.

And in Morro Bay, many business owners, artisans, and even non residents have expressed frustrations and confusion with MAS’ recent audit.

“I think that this audit, it uncovered a lot of people that don’t have licenses—for one thing,” said Colette Came, owner of Came Security Alarm, which has offices in Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo. “And it also ruffled a lot of feathers after the way they did it.”

Came, for example, said MAS mistakenly assumed she hadn’t paid four years’ worth of business license fees. She first cleared up the issue by phone, but later received a notice in the mail asking her to pay about $1,200 in back license fees, then another $148 for when she was the business’ sole proprietor. MAS effectively double billed her, Came said, and in both cases it was wrong.

“We’ve always been paid up,” she said, noting that she was able to work with the city and clear up the mistake. “We’ve never had any penalties.”

MAS declined to comment for this story. Director of Audit Kevin Weignant directed New Times’ questions to the city.

Recently hired Morro Bay City Manager David Buckingham said MAS was contracted to audit the past four years and will stay on board for another three years. In the first phase, the company contacted existing business license holders to determine whether any additional fees were owed. Over the remainder of its contract, MAS will search for businesses that are operating in or from outside Morro Bay without proper licenses. The city expects to find about $1.6 million in owed license fees, of which MAS will draw a 40 percent fee (about $640,000).

“Tax collection, while perhaps not very pleasant, is one of the things that governments do,” Buckingham said, adding that the city had to cut its small batch of auditors in recent years. “The city has not effectively done this for six or seven years, and for the 10 years before that, it was doing it but perhaps not very effectively.”

Under the terms of its contract, MAS is paid a percentage of the revenue it collects, a practice that has come under fire elsewhere. And other cities have dealt with backlash from local businesses as well. In February, the city of Alameda discontinued its business license audit program through MAS and issued a public apology to the local business community “for the way in which the Business License Tax Audit was conducted.”

Asked if the fee-based payment method might hamper MAS’ ability to objectively pursue taxes from businesses, Buckingham adamantly disagreed.

“I would not agree that they are being or can be subjective in their processes,” he said. “They absolutely must follow the Morro Bay business license code, and they also have to follow state of California codes and auditing codes in the work that they’re doing.”

Buckingham noted that any business is allowed to appeal MAS’ conclusions. The city had received about 10 appeals, he said.

However, the city did pull back on past collections after blowback from the first phase of auditing. Local musicians and artisans took to social media—using the handle, “Stop the Morro Bay Artist Tax”—to air fears that they would be taxed per gig, plus an additional fee for each member of a musical group.

“There’s been a lot of chatter out there,” musician Billy Foppiano told city councilmembers at a Nov. 6 special meeting. “That’s why we’re here, because we just want to get the facts, and we want Morro Bay to thrive.”

At that meeting, councilmembers directed city staffers to review the city’s municipal code and tax rate structure and make revisions over the next few weeks. They also approved an amnesty period—which will end March 13, 2015—that allows businesses to pay back taxes without penalties, and businesses that paid penalties are entitled to refunds. The city also agreed to reduce license fees for businesses that draw less than $12,000 in gross annual receipts.

Councilmembers acknowledged that the city could have made the changes up front and provided better public education.

“It’s not perfect,” Councilwoman Christine Johnson said. “But we’re making some really strong improvements tonight.”

Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kelly Wells told New Times, “I think that the local business community spoke loudly and clearly, and the city heard them.”


November 11, 2014
Anniston, AL
City Approves Business License Rate Changes
The Anniston Star

The Anniston City Council on Monday raised license fees for many local businesses through an update to its rate structure that could generate $350,000 in annual revenue.

City officials say the change will modernize the city's business license rate methodology and bring it in line with those in similar state municipalities. They also say it will add much-needed revenue to a city that has seen its tax sources decline in recent years. Some local business owners say they'd rather not pay a higher fee, but appreciate the city's efforts to negotiate a fair rate increase with them prior to the vote.

Councilman David Reddick was the only council member to vote against the changes. Reddick said raising taxes will just hurt the city.

"We should look at taking care of our people without raising our taxes," Reddick said. "I think it would be better bringing in millions of dollars by reducing unemployment."

According to city figures, Anniston has approximately 3,000 business license accounts, 64 percent of which will see a fee increase due to the changes. Businesses will see an average increase of $211 per year. The figures also show that one third of the city's businesses will see no rate increase from the changes.

The city's changes are based in part on recommendations from the Public Resource Management Alliance Corporation, a government services consulting firm. The city hired the firm earlier this year to examine its business license structure and find potential revenue opportunities.

The council recently approved its 2015 budget with significant cuts in nearly every department due mainly to declining sales tax revenue.

The firm's report stated that about 3.1 percent of the city's general fund revenue comes from business licenses. That’s compared to 10 percent for Jacksonville and 13 percent for Gadsden.

Meanwhile, the state average is 9.6 percent and the national average is 6.5 percent.

Along with low rates, the report showed that some Anniston businesses pay a larger percentage of business license fees than others. The report examined the top 10 classes of businesses by gross receipts in the city, five of which are manufacturing-based.

The report showed that those five manufacturing classes reported about $1.1 billion in receipts in the 2014 fiscal year, but paid $21,872 in city business license fees. In contrast, the other five business classes, including auto dealers, food and beverage, wholesalers, retailers and physicians, reported a total of about $493 million in receipts. Those classes paid $392,347 in city business license fees.

The report also identified city license rates for 18 business categories that haven't been updated in decades. For instance, the license fee for hotels and motels hasn't changed since 1930. The license fees for auto dealers, pawnshops and landscapers haven't changed since 1955.

"This is long overdue," said Councilman Jay Jenkins. "Nobody wants to raise taxes, but we're creating a fair and equitable rate structure."

Mayor Vaughn Stewart noted that even with the increase, the city's rates will still be below the state average.

"Nobody likes license fees, but this is a necessary evil that all cities have to employ." Stewart said. "But we do have to be equitable ... other businesses are having to carry more of the burden then they deserve."

Stewart added that City Manager Brian Johnson sat down with the different industries that the changes would impact and negotiated with them.

Pokey Brimer, owner of Pokey Brimer Auto Sales in Anniston and vice president of the Alabama Independent Automobile Association, said his fellow dealers were not happy to pay more in license fees, but did appreciate the city working with them to find a rate everyone could accept.

"They started out with a much higher rate and we were able to negotiate it down," said Brimer, who did not attend the meeting.

Brimer said he's been in business more than 20 years and this was the first time a city manager came to him to ask his thoughts on an issue that would impact his business.

"It was refreshing and much more business-friendly," Brimer said.

Also during the meeting, Stewart announced that California-based discount tool retailer Harbor Freight Tools plans to open a store in Anniston. The store will open in the Anniston Plaza at 3500 McClellan Blvd.

Johnson said city officials don’t know how many jobs the store will create or when it’s set to open.

"We've just found out about this," Johnson said of the deal. "We've been working on this for months, but it was not until 3 p.m. today (Monday) that we learned we could execute the lease."

The retailer, which caters to automotive and truck repair shops, government agencies and manufacturers, has 520 stores nationwide, including seven in Alabama.


November 10, 2014
Philadelphia, PA
Uber Told the State it Wouldn't Operate, then Did

On the same day Uber was launching its UberX ride-share service in Philadelphia, the company was telling the state Public Utility Commission it had no intention of doing so. How does Uber square its actions with its words?

By avoiding the question.

On Oct. 24, Uber filed a petition with the PUC for emergency temporary authority to operate in Philadelphia and four other Southeastern Pennsylvania counties. It cited an insurance crisis in the Philadelphia taxi industry since a major insurer of cabs, First Keystone Risk Retention Group of South Carolina, collapsed in insolvency and 478 cabs had been ordered to obtain new insurance immediately or halt service.

In its PUC filing, Uber said it "has no intention to launch service in the Counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania without authority from the Commission."

That night, Uber announced the launch of UberX service in Philadelphia, citing the insurance issue and saying it wanted to "ensure you have the convenient and affordable transportation options you deserve."

Asked about the apparent conflict, Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett said in an e-mail:

"What we have in Philadelphia is a real transportation emergency. When a number of taxis still don't have adequate insurance, going from one unrated company to another, Philadelphians deserve the safe and reliable options they're demanding."

Pressed by a reporter about the apparent inconsistency, Bennett referred to his earlier statement.

The PUC has taken no action on Uber's application for emergency service in Philadelphia and Southeastern Pennsylvania, said commission spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher.

She said the commission did not have authority to regulate Uber in the city, where the Philadelphia Parking Authority is the regulator.

In the suburban counties, Kocher said that the commission is investigating reports that UberX drivers continue to operate without authority, and that such drivers face $1,000 fines and revocation of their vehicle registrations.

In Philadelphia, all but five of the 478 cabs that had been told to get new insurance have done so, said Martin O'Rourke, spokesman for the Parking Authority.

Vince Fenerty, executive director of the Parking Authority, called Uber's action "the height of hypocrisy" and said it "raises serious credibility issues about whether the public or any regulating agency, or any legislative body can believe anything Uber may say in the future."


November 7, 2014
Cincinnati, OH
City Passes Regulations on Rideshare Companies

City Council voted Oct. 29 to approve rules governing ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft, marking the first time since the companies came here in March that they’ve been regulated by the city.

“I don’t know if it will ever be perfect, but in other cities, they’ve outright banned Uber and Lyft,” said Councilwoman Amy Murray, the transportation committee chair. “I think we’ve put together a perfect plan for this point in time, where we’re managing safety in Cincinnati without over-regulation. If we don’t have anything, there’s nothing on the books.”

The new regulations classify the ridesharing companies as “transportation network companies” and require them to carry a license with the city costing $10,000 a year. License requirements include $100,000 in liability insurance, keeping trip records for six months, (as cab companies must do), requirements for background checks on drivers and minimum safety requirements for vehicles.

When rideshare companies first came to town, cab companies in the city cried foul at the lack of regulation the tech-savvy newcomers enjoyed. Representatives from cab companies protested outside City Hall and lobbied for rule changes.

Some rules placed on cab companies, like regulations when drivers can wear shorts, are arcane and burdensome, companies say.

Murray said the rules are due for an adjustment.

“Certainly this brought out some things in our taxi regulations right now that have not been updated in a while,” she said. “We need to look at that, and our committee will be doing that.”

Uber and Lyft have said they’re fundamentally different from taxi companies and shouldn’t be regulated the same way.

Uber Ohio General Manager James Ondrey told CityBeat in July that Uber doesn’t oppose all regulations, since the company does some of the things required of cab companies anyway. But he also said the company isn’t the same as a taxi company.

“Uber is a technology company,” Ondrey says. “We’ve built a mobile platform that connects users with drivers giving rides. They’re not employees. They’re independent contractors who pay a small fee to us to use our platform.”

Many of the regulations Council passed Oct. 29 are things the companies already do voluntarily.

Vice Mayor David Mann had some reservations about the regulations and voted against them, saying they didn’t go far enough in terms of insurance and holding ridesharing companies accountable for the fares they’re charging.

He said the $25,000 in insurance the companies will be required to carry for accidents where they’re not at fault is too low and could leave citizens under-covered if an uninsured driver hits a rideshare car. He also said the companies aren’t transparent enough with the city about their rates.

“We are letting them operate on our streets under the license we issue,” Mann said, “and we have no easy way to make sure we’re comfortable with what they’re charging.”

The companies generally show the rates on their apps, but the rates vary due to peak pricing schemes, which some have found confusing.

Overall, however, Council was supportive of the regulations, which have been in the works for five months and have gone through six versions in Council’s transportation committee. Mann was the only dissenting vote.

“This is as close as we were going to get to perfect,” Councilwoman Yvette Simpson said. “I think it’s a show that Cincinnati is open to business and that we’re working to be the big, great city we already are.”

Simpson pointed out that cabs still have cabstands and can be hailed. “Uber and Lyft don’t have that,” she said.


November 7, 2014
St. Paul, MN
Minnesota Supreme Court hears Winona Rental License Case

The Minnesota Supreme Court will decide whether the City of Winona exceeded its constitutional limits by placing a cap on rental licenses in residential zones.

The high court took oral arguments Thursday during a hearing at Hamline University's School of Law. Justices peppered attorneys on both sides of the case with pointed questions, and gave no hints as to how they'll rule.

"We believe that, by restricting renters from living in places, but not owners, it can have serious equal protection problems," Anthony Sanders of the Institute for Justice told KARE after the hearing.

It's a case that began with Ted and Lauren Dzierzbicki, who bought a house in Winona for their daughter while she was a student at Winona State. When she graduated they wanted to rent it out, but couldn't get a rental license because that particular neighborhood had already reached city's 30 percent cap on rental licenses.

"People don't want to rent their houses out until they do. Once you want to move away, and you're unable to sell your home, you may want to rent your property out," Sanders explained.

He said Winona's cap -- which limits rental licenses to 30 percent of the lots on a city block -- is unconstitutional because not all homeowners are treated alike.

"Because many homes are grandfathered in, some blocks are close to 100 percent rentals already, but the last person on the block that doesn't have a license can't get one."

The ACLU of Minnesota filed a brief in support of the plaintiff's in the case, arguing that the cap also can restrict access to housing for families who can't afford to buy a single family home.

But George Hoff, the attorney who argued Winona's case before the Supreme Court, said cities have broad powers to adopt policies that improve the livability.

"We treat everyone in this particular zoning district, which is the single family zoning district, the same," Hoff told KARE after the Court adjourned. "It is a neutral policy. It's neutrally applied."

As to the issue of property owners being denied rental licenses that neighboring homeowners already received, Hoff said that cities are allowed to draw lines when it comes to business licenses.

"That happens. Cities are engaged in line-drawing all the time. There are only so many taxi cab licenses that are given. There are so many alcohol licenses granted by cities and the state," Hoff said.

Winona is one of four cities in Minnesota that have taken action to try to limit the concentration of rental housing.

The City of West Saint Paul, beginning in 2012, capped rentals at 10 percent of a block. The City Council can grant provisional two-year licenses in blocks that have already exceeded the 10 percent mark.

The city's website even has a map where resident can check to see if all the rental licenses allocated to a particular block have already been granted.

Hoff said Winona, like other college towns, adopted the rental cap in response to issues such as parking, traffic, unkempt lawns, rundown properties, litter and public nuisance problems with parties.

"The policy in Winona wasn't just a bolt out of the blue," Hoff explained.

"It was years in the making, and it involved the citizens of Winona, the landlords, the students and other citizens. There were public hearings, there was public input."

The City of Winona prevailed at both the lower court level and the Minn. Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court is being asked to do something that it rarely does; second guess a local governing body's legislative action.


November 6, 2014
Godfrey, IL
Godfrey Approves Business Licenses
Alton Daily News

Most business owners in Godfrey will soon have to register with the village. Trustees have approved a business license ordinance, in order to have a reference as to what is operating in the village. The original ordinance would have included home-based businesses as well, but most of them will not have to register, following an amendment to the ordinance.

Godfrey Mayor Mike McCormick says the exceptions would be for businesses with no traffic coming in and out of the house, like an online store or Tupperware sales. Still, he says he’s not completely happy with the changes since the idea was first brought to him.

If your business is already licensed through the state, you don’t have to pay the $25 fee, but would still have to fill out the paperwork. The ordinance goes into effect January 1.


November 5, 2014
Pelham, AL
Pelham seeks out unlicensed businesses
Pelham Reporter

Pelham is cracking down on unlicensed businesses operating within the city as the City Council approved an agreement with PRA Government Services, LLC. to identify improperly licensed businesses and recover revenue during a Nov. 3 meeting.

“They’ve been very successful in other cities,” Pelham Finance Director Tom Seale said of PRA Government Services’ Revenue Discovery and Recovery program.

According to the company’s website, “the identification and recuperation of escaped tax and license revenue can be challenging for local governments.” PRA Government Services assists local governments to identify “businesses operating in your jurisdiction without proper licensing or without remitting appropriate taxes.”

The agreement is for a three-year contract, Seale said, and PRA Government Services will receive 50 percent of the first year revenue from business licenses of newly discovered businesses, Seale explained. The company will not receive any money from taxes generated for the city by these businesses, Seale confirmed during a Nov. 3 City Council work session.

PRA Government Services “estimated possibly $100,000 they can identify for us” in improperly licensed businesses operating within Pelham, Seale said.

Seale said many of these businesses were likely from other cities, but traveled into Pelham to do businesses activities, such as make deliveries, which would require a Pelham business license.


November 5, 2014
Juneau, AK
New License Law Eases Paperwork, Cost to Alaska Businesses
Alaska Business Monthly

Several provisions reducing the cost and paperwork of business licensing took effect on Wednesday. Under HB32, a new law signed this summer by Governor Sean Parnell, Alaskans may now consolidate multiple businesses under one license and make minor changes to licenses after issue.

Consolidating licenses saves business owners the expense and time of applying for several business licenses when certain conditions are met. Under the new law, for instance, a construction contractor who operates a snowplow business in the winter under the same name can combine those two licenses into one.

The ability to change a business address or make minor changes to a license within 30 days of issue offers added convenience. Previously, an applicant was required to purchase an entirely new license to correct simple errors made when filing.

Disabled veterans can now also pay half the fee for business licenses for sole proprietorships. One-year business licenses are now only $25 and two-year licenses are $50 for service-connected disabled veterans.

“Streamlining business requirements in Alaska only strengthens our economy,” said Sara Chambers, director of the Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing. “Protection of Alaskan consumers doesn’t have to equal burdensome and costly bureaucracy.”

The number of business licenses in Alaska has increased for the fifth consecutive year, up 15% since 2009. 68,503 businesses were registered in the state in fiscal year 2014, which ended June 30. Additional information is available at businesslicense.alaska.gov.


November 4, 2014
New York, NY
Bitcoin Startups May Get Transitional License in New York

New York may grant transitional licenses to small virtual-currency firms and startups to let them grow before facing the full burden of new regulation, the state’s top financial watchdog said.

Benjamin Lawsky, New York’s superintendent of financial services, has been developing a BitLicense this year to ensure firms dealing in bitcoins and other digital currencies protect consumers and help thwart money laundering. Since the rules were proposed in July, many comment letters have focused on the expense for fledging companies, he said yesterday in a speech.

“There has to be a way for startups to start up and play by the rules without getting crushed by huge compliance costs,” Lawsky said at the Money20/20 conference in Las Vegas. “To that point, we are considering creating a special type of ‘Transitional BitLicense.’”

Bitcoins, the most popular virtual currency, have drawn interest from entrepreneurs and investors including venture capitalists looking to popularize it as a low-cost alternative to established payment systems, supplanting credit cards to international wire transfers. Lawsky said when proposing the regulatory regime in July that he wants to protect people and root out wrongdoing without stifling innovation.

Representatives of tech companies, retailers, banks and payment networks gather at the four-day Money20/20 conference. Organizers have predicted it will draw more than 7,000 attendees, including hundreds of chief executive officers.

The transitional license would let certain small businesses and startups operate in a more flexible framework for a set period of time, when they would be subject to tailored examinations, Lawsky said. In weighing applications, his office may consider aspects including the scope of the business, the amount of money handled and risk to consumers, he said.

“We have faced similar issues among the smaller, community banks we regulate,” Lawsky said. “We recognize that if a financial firm has 12 employees -- and nine of them are compliance officers -- that is not a winning business model.


November 3, 2014
Oshtemo, MI
Tighter restrictions on liquor license transfers adopted in Oshtemo Township
The Kalamazoo Gazette

A change to Oshtemo Township's liquor license ordinance tightens limitations on the transfer of licenses from township businesses.

In ordinance amendment passed unanimously by the township board Tuesday, Oct. 28 restricts businesses from transferring their license within five years of issuance and ensures that if the business closes within five years of license issuance, the liquor license returns to the township.

The ordinance already banned the transfer of licenses outside the township.

Another change to the ordinance requires that any necessary remodeling or construction required for use of the license must begin within three months, rather than the previous six.

The ordinance also spells out conditions under which the board, with the applicant's consent, can grant a quota license temporarily for five years or less to a business within the Downtown Development Authority or a corridor improvement authority. The amendment was prompted by a new state statute allowing the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to issue public on-premises licenses in addition to the township's quota licenses to businesses located in a downtown development authority or corridor improvement authority that meet certain conditions. To apply for a license under the new statute does require a $20,000 fee.

At Tuesday's meeting, the board also voted unanimously to reaffirm its September decision to grant its last quota liquor license to Feed the World Cafe on a temporary basis.

Township Attorney Jim Porter recommended the board vote again on the decision, under the terms of the newly adopted ordinance amendments, giving Feed the World Cafe five years to raise the money to apply for a state license and evaluate whether they meet all the criteria to receive one. The number of licenses in the township is set by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission based on census numbers and the township's next chance to receive more licenses from the state will be at the 2020 census. The board had previously declined to issue its last liquor license before the idea of granting it temporarily was raised.

Debra Mixis and Lori Shugars are converting their restaurant at 7000 Stadium Drive, currently Blackeye Espresso Coffee Shop, to Feed the World Cafe Oshtemo. Mixis said Feed the World Cafe is a vision developed by Western Michigan University students for a restaurant that donates enough funds to provide a meal for every meal sold in the restaurant.

Working with community partners Ministry with Community, Loaves and Fishes, and Food Bank of South Central Michigan, Mixis said they anticipate providing at least 40,000 meals to the community in the first year of operation.

Mixis said they plan to invest about $60,000 into converting their space into a full kitchen to offer a full lunch and dinner menu that will change frequently to introduce diners to new cuisines and to take advantage of local, seasonal produce. A pantry will also offer local products such as jam and honey, the sale of which will provide some benefit to the community non-profit partners.


November 3, 2014
Albany, NY
AIG to pay NY $35M to settle licensing allegations

Insurance company American International Group Inc. has agreed to pay New York state $35 million to settle claims that two former subsidiaries did business without licenses and misled regulators about their operations in the state.

The deal was announced Friday by the state Department of Financial Services. It comes after a $60 million settlement in March with MetLife, which purchased the subsidiaries from AIG.

Authorities had alleged subsidiaries American Life Insurance Co. and Delaware American Life Insurance Co. sought customers in New York without licenses and without telling regulators.

Under the settlement, AIG will drop a legal challenge to the state's probe and the state will not proceed with charges or a lawsuit.

AIG says it agreed to the settlement to avoid the expense and distraction of litigation.


October 31, 2014
Morro Bay, CA
Morro Bay Business Owners Could Get Grace Period for License Violations

The Morro Bay City Council voted Tuesday to recommend amnesty in the form of an ordinance change that will save business owners in violation of business licensing policies from having to pay penalties.

In a 4-0 vote, the council recommended allowing a 90-day grace period to businesses so they can meet licensing requirements.

And if they do, any penalties would be waived, though business owners would still be required to pay back taxes on business licenses.

City officials estimate that Morro Bay has lost about $200,000 in revenue per year in business license taxes — about 2 percent of the city’s general fund.

An audit conducted for the council expects the city to recoup about $1 million in unpaid taxes and penalties, Buckingham said. With a penalty waiver, that amount could drop to about $700,000.

Mayor Jamie Irons recused himself because of potential conflicts of interest as a property manager facing penalties.

The council also voted 5-0, with Irons participating in the second vote, to recommend charging low-income business owners such as artists and craftsmakers a nominal fee.

For example, City Manager David Buckingham said a business that shows gross receipts of $2,500 or less could be eligible for a $10-per-year business license tax. The council would have to make the decision on the specific tax.

Both recommendations will need to be passed by ordinance change in the next couple of weeks before a grace period commences, which could take place at the council’s Nov. 12 meeting.

Approval at that meeting would create a 90-day amnesty grace period ending March 12.

The business community in Morro Bay has been contacted in recent weeks with letters and calls from Municipal Auditing Services, hired by the council in July to conduct a compliance audit.

Businesses have complained that the city’s licensing code is confusing, the auditing firm was “rude” and the city’s communications on the issue were insufficient.

But city staff, including Buckingham, have listened to the audio of more than 20 phone calls between Municipal Auditing Services and business in Morro Bay and found no instances of rude treatment or inappropriate conduct.

The council vowed to work to clarify the code and ensure better communications on the licensing developments.

“Good government requires compliance, and we’d let our policy go for so long it was a shock to the system,” Councilwoman Christine Johnson said. “But I wish we’d started out (in July) with amnesty.”

Buckingham said as many as 1,000 businesses may not be in compliance — most of them out-of-town vendors who operate on consignment or offer services from an out-of-area home base.

“The services being provided by MAS will help us to ensure all businesses are ‘paying their fair share,’” Buckingham wrote in an Oct. 10 letter to all business license holders, which also was publicized through the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce.

Business licenses vary in price depending on how many employees a business has — starting at $136 per year for a sole owner operated company and adding $30 annually per additional employee.

Buckingham wrote business license enforcement was one of the “less pleasant, but important roles of local government.”

About 10 speakers addressed the issue in public comment at Tuesday’s meeting, including members of the Chamber of Commerce who thanked the council for listening to their concerns.

“Clearly you have heard the voice of local businesses,” chamber President Jennifer Redman said. “You have heard voices, and you are responding.”

Mary VanZee, owner of Treasures Antique Mall in Morro Bay, said she works with about 75 vendors and consignors who pay fees for renting space in her store and processing the sales.

“A lot of people won’t remain in my store if they have to pay a business license fee,” VanZee said. “I’d have to close the doors of my store, and people would have to go to SLO or elsewhere to shop for the same items.”

VanZee recommended a $20 per year fee for consignments.

The council said it will be reviewing its code and working to fairly charge businesses appropriately with stakeholder input.


October 30, 2014
Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs City Council amends business license requirements

Paying fees and doing paperwork just became a whole lot easier for Colorado Springs business owners.

Thanks to Colorado Springs City Council, general business license fees are being reduced, and six business license types are also being removed--making it less of a headache for business owners.

Not to mention, business owners can also go online to either renew or apply for a license.

Liquor and marijuana licenses are not included in this, though, according to city leaders, because they involve a dual/state licensing process and state fees.

For a more in depth-look at the general business licensing provisions, click here.

According to city officials, this is another step in making Colorado Springs an ideal place to start or grow a business.

"We're Colorado Springs. We have a unique flavor, and I think we need to adjust those things to fit Colorado Springs and the business climate we already have here," said councilmember Helen Collins.

Collins said the business climate is buzzing in some places in the Springs.

"We have regulars that are here everyday," said David McIntosh, Owner of Montague's Restaurant. "We have people who keep walking in that have never seen us before, never been here before, surprised to find us here. We like being that relational business."

McIntosh said he and his business partner have had their work cut out for them from the start--almost 20 years ago.

"It's the passion that makes it fun and keeps you in there, but it's being able to handle the details and keep track of them and plan ahead that keeps you going," said McIntosh.

So city leaders, like Collins, said they want to do their part in the planning-ahead process to attract more businesses like Montague's.

"We're more small business, user-friendly, and if we get rid of a lot of the regulation--like the TAP fees and that kind of a thing, then we'll be more business-friendly," said Collins.


October 29, 2014
Rome, GA
Businesses concerned about high alcohol fees
Rome News Tribune

A scheduled vote by the Rome City Commission to possibly increase alcohol license rates for 2015 has some business owners worried.

The resolution is on the agenda for the commission’s regular meeting Monday. If it is approved as written, it will affect all establishments that sell alcohol inside the city limits.

“They’re the most expensive licenses and fees that we have,” said Jay Shell, owner of The Brewhouse Music & Grill, 325 Broad St. “Of course, it’s not good news when you’re paying one of, if not the highest alcohol fees in state to hear they’re thinking about raising it.”

While base fees for pouring licenses are expected to stay the same — $1,060 for beer and wine, and $2,990 for liquor each year — the city also charges a volume-based rate for establishments as well.

The city’s Finance Committee is recommending a 3-cent hike for beer and wine volume sales and 10 cents for liquor.

That would raise the rate per case of beer to 42 cents from 39 cents, the rate per liter for wine to 45 cents from 42 cents, and the rate per liter of liquor to $2.34 from $2.24.

“It does affect your bottom line,” said Patrick Van Der Horn, general manager for Bella Roma Grill, 770 Braves Blvd.

“We’re in a time where the number of restaurants you are having to compete with is growing, and it gets tougher and tougher to remain competitive.”

According to figures from City Clerk Joe Smith, based on last year’s reported data from wholesale distributors, the increase would bring in an estimated extra $4,780 of annual revenue to the city.

An increase for Rome’s beer and wine package license fees, which were raised about 2 percent each at the start of this year, are also part of the proposal.

The rates for retail owners would jump to $850 from $825 for beer, and $2,885 from $2,800 for wine.

If an establishment purchases a liquor package license — which would stay at the state-allowed maximum of $5,000 — the discounted price to purchase a wine package license would increase to $650 from $625.

All of the package license increases would add about $3,000 annually to the city’s coffers, according to Smith.

“Over the past 25 years, these have just slowly crept up,” Smith said.

Smith said the goal with the volume-based rates is to be revenue neutral and give each business some control over how much they had to pay to serve alcohol.

Bob Blumberg, owner of Johnny’s New York Style Pizza, 233 Broad St., said he is afraid the rising fees will negatively impact business growth in the city.

“They’re focusing on alcohol and it’s not fair to the people who run the restaurants and businesses in Rome who sell it,” Blumberg said. “I would rather see them lower the fees to try and bring in more businesses and increase tax revenue.”

An informal survey conducted by the Rome News-Tribune found that Rome’s volume-based rate is relatively rare.

Dalton charges businesses $750 annually each for beer and wine pouring licenses, and $2,000 for liquor, while Cartersville only provides a combined beer-wine pouring license for $900, and a liquor pouring license for $1,500.

The only cities that charge more than Rome for a base pouring license are Cedartown and Ringgold.

Cedartown charges $3,000 for a liquor pouring license outside of the city’s downtown. Ringgold charges between $3,000 and $4,000 for the same depending on the seating capacity of an establishment.

Calhoun pouring licenses are $750 each for beer and wine, and $1,500 for liquor, while Fort Oglethorpe’s fees are $500 for beer and wine, and $1,000 for liquor.

None of the cities surveyed tack on a volume-based rate on top of the base pouring licenses.

Shell, who said his annual alcohol license fees equals around $12,000 a year, said he could operate the same business in Cartersville for less than a quarter of that total.

“People don’t realize how much money we pay to serve alcohol here at The Brewhouse,” Shell said. “It really makes you think sometimes, ‘can we survive without a liquor license?’”

Blumberg and Shell proposed lowering the base fees for pouring licenses and increasing the volume-based fees.

Smith said if the increases are approved without any revision at Monday’s meeting his office would use the new rates to calculate how much establishments owe for next year.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 601 Broad St.


October 29, 2014
Rome, GA
Businesses concerned about high alcohol fees
Rome News Tribune

A scheduled vote by the Rome City Commission to possibly increase alcohol license rates for 2015 has some business owners worried.

The resolution is on the agenda for the commission’s regular meeting Monday. If it is approved as written, it will affect all establishments that sell alcohol inside the city limits.

“They’re the most expensive licenses and fees that we have,” said Jay Shell, owner of The Brewhouse Music & Grill, 325 Broad St. “Of course, it’s not good news when you’re paying one of, if not the highest alcohol fees in state to hear they’re thinking about raising it.”

While base fees for pouring licenses are expected to stay the same — $1,060 for beer and wine, and $2,990 for liquor each year — the city also charges a volume-based rate for establishments as well.

The city’s Finance Committee is recommending a 3-cent hike for beer and wine volume sales and 10 cents for liquor.

That would raise the rate per case of beer to 42 cents from 39 cents, the rate per liter for wine to 45 cents from 42 cents, and the rate per liter of liquor to $2.34 from $2.24.

“It does affect your bottom line,” said Patrick Van Der Horn, general manager for Bella Roma Grill, 770 Braves Blvd.

“We’re in a time where the number of restaurants you are having to compete with is growing, and it gets tougher and tougher to remain competitive.”

According to figures from City Clerk Joe Smith, based on last year’s reported data from wholesale distributors, the increase would bring in an estimated extra $4,780 of annual revenue to the city.

An increase for Rome’s beer and wine package license fees, which were raised about 2 percent each at the start of this year, are also part of the proposal.

The rates for retail owners would jump to $850 from $825 for beer, and $2,885 from $2,800 for wine.

If an establishment purchases a liquor package license — which would stay at the state-allowed maximum of $5,000 — the discounted price to purchase a wine package license would increase to $650 from $625.

All of the package license increases would add about $3,000 annually to the city’s coffers, according to Smith.

“Over the past 25 years, these have just slowly crept up,” Smith said.

Smith said the goal with the volume-based rates is to be revenue neutral and give each business some control over how much they had to pay to serve alcohol.

Bob Blumberg, owner of Johnny’s New York Style Pizza, 233 Broad St., said he is afraid the rising fees will negatively impact business growth in the city.

“They’re focusing on alcohol and it’s not fair to the people who run the restaurants and businesses in Rome who sell it,” Blumberg said. “I would rather see them lower the fees to try and bring in more businesses and increase tax revenue.”

An informal survey conducted by the Rome News-Tribune found that Rome’s volume-based rate is relatively rare.

Dalton charges businesses $750 annually each for beer and wine pouring licenses, and $2,000 for liquor, while Cartersville only provides a combined beer-wine pouring license for $900, and a liquor pouring license for $1,500.

The only cities that charge more than Rome for a base pouring license are Cedartown and Ringgold.

Cedartown charges $3,000 for a liquor pouring license outside of the city’s downtown. Ringgold charges between $3,000 and $4,000 for the same depending on the seating capacity of an establishment.

Calhoun pouring licenses are $750 each for beer and wine, and $1,500 for liquor, while Fort Oglethorpe’s fees are $500 for beer and wine, and $1,000 for liquor.

None of the cities surveyed tack on a volume-based rate on top of the base pouring licenses.

Shell, who said his annual alcohol license fees equals around $12,000 a year, said he could operate the same business in Cartersville for less than a quarter of that total.

“People don’t realize how much money we pay to serve alcohol here at The Brewhouse,” Shell said. “It really makes you think sometimes, ‘can we survive without a liquor license?’”

Blumberg and Shell proposed lowering the base fees for pouring licenses and increasing the volume-based fees.

Smith said if the increases are approved without any revision at Monday’s meeting his office would use the new rates to calculate how much establishments owe for next year.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 601 Broad St.


October 29, 2014
Alabaster, AL
Concerns prompt Alabaster to Change Business License Fees for Hospitals, Warehouses

The Alabaster City Council tonight revised how it assesses business licenses fees on warehouses and hospitals after concerns arose over initial changes made during the summer.

"I sat down with these businesses that had heartburn or grief about this and they explained their situations," Mayor Marty Handlon said after tonight's council meeting. "We worked out a compromise that benefits both the city and helps them out."

During the public hearing on the proposed revisions tonight, no one spoke in favor or against the proposal.

The changes specifically target categories labeled as "hospitals / nursing homes" and another for "warehouse, manufacturing, wholesale, distribution; bulk and direct mail advertising."

In the hospital category, institutions must pay a base fee of $300 plus .075 percent for up to $50 million in gross receipts. For amounts between $50 million and $150 million, the fee is .02 percent. Anything above $150 million in gross receipts, the fee is .01 percent.

The warehouse category is similar to the hospital group, but it adds another level by charging .005 percent for anything above $650 million in gross receipts.

The warehouse category also charges 10 cents per square foot of floor space over 30,000 square feet.

For both categories, the city created a multi-tiered method for implementing the new fees.

For the 2015 license year, the maximum gross receipts for determining the fee is $50 million, while the 2016 license year increases to $150 million and the 2017 license year and beyond takes into account all gross receipts.

The revision approved by the council in June removed a $15 million cap on gross receipts used for calculating a business license in various categories.


October 28, 2014
Manktao, MN
Drink Costs Prompting Liquor License Discussion

Tastes have changed for diners who enjoy a good beer or other tasty libations with their meals, so some restaurant owners think it's also time to change liquor license rules.

More customers are spending more on their beers, wines and whiskeys, but they're not drinking more. So current methods of setting liquor licenses based on a food to alcohol sales ratio aren't as accurate as they used to be.

Mankato Public Safety Director Todd Miller said city officials are considering changes in the city's liquor license policy that will use a different method of setting license fees that would address that. Currently restaurants and bars that have food sales of 60 percent or more pay $3,750 per year for a liquor license; establishments with 40 to 59 percent in food sales pay $5,000; and bars that have 39 percent or less in food sales pay $6,250.

Reasner said maintaining food sales percentages at Pub 500 has become more difficult in recent years because more of his customers are drinking craft beers, high-quality liquors and specialty drinks such as martinis. Those customers aren't drinking more alcohol, but they are paying more for the one, two or three drinks they consume.

It can cost $5 or more for a for a glass of craft beer, he said. If more customers are enjoying two specialty beers or a couple of glasses of quality wine while enjoying an $8 to $10 meal, it's much more difficult for restaurants to maintain 60 percent in food sales, Reasner said.

"The percentages don't represent how much alcohol some bars are selling," he said. "I think it's a good idea to look at all aspects and fine tune everything. Things in the restaurant business are changing all the time, and changes in liquor license classifications have to change, too.

"I think there's better ways of looking at a liquor license than just a straight percentage of food sales."

City officials are looking at kitchen facilities as one way to define which businesses are primarily restaurants and which businesses are primarily bars, Miller said. Restaurants with commercial grade burners, ovens, range hoods and larger refrigeration units are more likely to be considered a business that is focused as much on selling food as alcohol.

Businesses that have a grill and couple of friers, don't serve a full menu until at least 10 p.m., and regularly exceed seating capacity later at night are likely to be focused more on selling alcohol than food.

Higher liquor license fees also are being considered. They could range from $5,000 for bowling alleys, hotels and clubs to $10,000 for bars that sell little or no food. Additional occupancy fees ranging from $500 to $2,500 also are being considered.


October 27, 2014
Nixa, MO
Business License Fees to Change in 2015 for Nixa

After 40 years without any modifications, Nixa City Council voted this week to change the fee structure for Nixa business licenses beginning in January 2015.

Currently, fees for business licenses range from $2.50 to $25 annually depending on the type of business. The majority of businesses currently in operation in Nixa pay $10 annually. The new structure changes the licenses to a flat fee of $50 for new businesses, and $25 for renewals. Any business in operation in 2014 will renew their license in January for $25. The new structure also initiates a late penalty if licenses are not renewed by March 31 of each year.

“The City needs this update,” said Cindy Robbins, Nixa City Clerk. “Fees for business licenses pay for administration costs to process the licenses. First-time businesses require more work than renewals do, as the original application must be approved by Planning & Zoning as well as the Nixa Police Department.”

This new fee structure also affects contractor’s licenses and solicitor’s licenses. Contractor’s licenses will be the same as businesses: $50 for first-time and $25 annual renewals. If the contractor doesn’t renew on an annual basis, it will be treated as a new business.

Businesses wishing to solicit door-to-door in the city limits will be required to pay a $50 application fee as well as $50 per peddler, which includes a background check for each person that goes door-to-door.

All businesses that currently hold licenses with the city will receive a letter outlining these changes before the end of year. Anyone with questions can call the Nixa City Clerk’s office at 725-3785.


October 27, 2014
Butt-Silver Bow, MT
Business Licenses Help County Track Business, Protect Customers

Dozens of businesses pop up in Butte-Silver Bow each month. Many are small construction or landscaping companies; others are hair salons, tech companies or restaurants.

Business licenses help the county sort through the fray.

“It’s just to classify how many businesses we have,” said Butte-Silver Bow tax clerk Maliena Bumgarner. The county has some of the more diverse license options in the state – more than 40.

The licensing system also helps encourage local businesses – “the taxpayers” – instead of traveling businesses.

“We see a lot of people that are fly-by-nighters,” Bumgarner said. Their fees are proportionally higher than those for permanent local businesses. The county isn’t trying to unfairly target them – traveling businesses simply don’t pay for county services in other local taxes.

Depending on the type of business, fees in the county typically compare well to other metropolitan areas. The most popular business license, a general business license for a company with one or two employees, costs $35.

“It’s always revenue for the county,” Bumgarner said, “(but) we’re not trying to take as much as we can.”

The process can be completed in about 15 minutes if everything goes smoothly. Applicants pick up a form at the treasurer’s office, fill it out, get it signed off in the building and codes office and planning office, then return to the treasurer’s office for final approval.

Other offices get involved to make sure that a company's operations won't clash with surrounding businesses or residences.

Businesses are required to register annually, but the county prefers to work with people to get licensed instead of taking a punitive approach. If people don’t, police can ticket and fine them.

Some businesses also have to put up a bond, a process that helps gives consumers recourse for complaints on bad goods.

“We’ve got to guarantee what they’re giving away,” Bumgarner said.

Accountability is also why law enforcement sometimes gets involved, typically with transient vendors.

If the police department gets a complaint, it’s usually about a door-to-door salesperson, construction company, or temporary vendors.

“I go out and try to track ‘em down,” Butte-Silver Bow Special Deputy Gregg Edelen said. If they don’t have a business license, they have two choices – get licensed, or leave. If they keep selling without a license and Edelen catches up to them again, they go to jail. Bonding out costs about as much as the applicable license or bond.

“It’s slowed down considerably in my 31 years with the department,” Edelen said. “The word gets out to other people that are doing the same thing.”

Enforcing the law helps protect consumers. Transient business sometimes leave a mess around town, or use public services, Edelen said.

“That costs the taxpayer money.”


October 24, 2014
Godfrey, IL
Godfrey Pursuing Business Licenses

Godfrey Trustees took another step toward instituting a business license procedure. Currently, you don't need a license to operate in the village, unless your business is regulated by the state. Most trustees would like to see that changed.

One who is not completely on-board is Mark Stewart. In particular, he feels the ordinance overreaches by requiring all home-based businesses such as those who operate an E-bay store or others who have no other point of contact with the public to get a license.

Trustee Jerry Gibson feels the licensing procedure will be an asset to many. He says this could provide a guide to anyone looking for a particular type of business, or to prospective business owner, to see how many others are in the same field. The license would cost $25 in most cases. The ordinance will come back for second reading on November 3.


October 22, 2014
Hannibal, MO
City of Hannibal is Dealing with Unlicensed Businesses
Hannibal Courier Post

The clock is ticking for businesses operating in the city of Hannibal without an up-to-date business license.

During Tuesday night’s City Council meeting a 30-day appeal period was authorized, giving all delinquent business owners the opportunity to appear during an administrative hearing and explain why they are still not licensed.

“We’ll be sending out more letters,” said City Collector Phyllis Nelson following the meeting. Nelson’s office mailed out letters on Oct. 6 to 67 delinquent businesses. After those letters were sent out the number shrank to 48 by Oct.15. As of Tuesday’s meeting the number was down to 30. A majority of the businesses are contractors. As of Tuesday, eight of the contractors had out-of-town addresses. Another 11 were contractors with a Hannibal or New London mailing address. The cost of a license is either $40 or $100. As of Tuesday the amount of delinquent license fees totaled $2,340.

It was noted that the new licenses should have been secured by July 1. Prior to that date reminders were sent out, reported City Clerk Angel Vance.

According to Nelson, a number of the delinquent businesses this year were also tardy about renewing in 2013.

“I don’t know why it is that way,” said Nelson.

According to city statutes, if businesses take no action regarding the renewal of their business license, Nelson has the authority to ask the Police Department to close those establishments.

In other business:

• Approval was given to amending the job description of the public works superintendent.

• The Council OK’d allowing the discharge of firearms in the city limits during the American Legion Turkey Shoot on Nov. 1, 8, 15 and 22. The event will take place at the Legion Hall on Highway MM.

• Final reading was given a bill that approves the city paying to have its Third Street parking lanes overlaid as part of Missouri Department of Transportation’s planned repavement project along Mark Twain Avenue and Third Street in 2015. The cost to the city is estimated at just over $34,000.

• Second and final reading was given a settlement agreement that will see the city receive $2,007.05 from CenturyLink etal.

• Final approval was given to using $111,514 in MoDOT Aviation grant money for new airport hangar taxi lanes. The city will be required to provide a 5 percent match.


October 22, 2014
Manchester, NH
Licensing to begin of New Hampshire med techs
New Hampshire Business Review

In the fall of 2011 the news broke that David Kwiatkowski, a traveling medical technician, had infected more than 30 Exeter Hospital patients with Hepatitis C, using covert drug-diversion tactics that eluded criminal background checks and drug tests.

News of this catastrophe rocked the region. Health care facilities everywhere asked how did this happen and could this happen to us.

To prevent this scenario from happening again, Exeter Hospital worked with one of its doctors, who is also a legislator — Rep. Thomas Sherman, D-Rye, to craft a legislative solution. That solution is House Bill 658, which creates the New Hampshire Board of Registered Medical Technicians.

HB 658 took effect on Oct. 1.

The new law establishes a five-member panel attached to the Department of Health and Human Services. It has five members: the DHHS commissioner or his designee; three licensed health care providers; and one public member.

The board’s principal function is to oversee and administer the licensing of New Hampshire medical technicians. The board has the power to issue licenses, investigate and discipline licensees, and impose monetary and non-monetary sanctions.

But the board has not yet been created, thus causing consternation among those health care facilities and medical technicians who faced a compliance deadline of Oct. 1.

Who qualifies for compliance?

The new law requires all “medical technicians” to seek licensure from the board prior to practicing or advertising services in New Hampshire. The bill defines “medical technician” as a health care worker:

• Who is not licensed or registered by another New Hampshire regulatory board

• Who assists licensed health care professionals in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease

• With access to controlled substances

• With access to or contact with patients in a health care facility or in a medical establishment

Common examples of medical technicians include dialysis, radiology or ultrasound technicians. This definition of “medical technician” is somewhat broad and raises questions, such as, do registrars who obtain patient consent forms qualify?

The new law requires all technicians to file a licensure application and a $110 license fee. The application must be accompanied by a notarized criminal history release form and a complete set of fingerprints.

Upon receipt, the Board will submit the release and fingerprints to the State Police to run a background check. Assuming the background check clears, the board will issue the license, which must be renewed every two years, within 90 days.

The new law also requires licensees to promptly notify the board of any changes of name, residence or employment. Failure to register can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor and may subject the technician to severe administrative fines. The new law also imposes obligations on New Hampshire health care facilities and medical establishments, defined broadly to include entities such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, physicians, dentists, naturopaths, optometrists, podiatrists and clinics.

The bill first requires health care facilities and medical establishments employing medical technicians to ensure that such technicians are registered with the board. This task of identifying who qualifies as a medical technician is complicated by the ambiguous definition cited above.Facilities licensed under the new law must verify registration before employment.

The new law also mandates that all health care providers report any “adverse action” against the technician to the board within 30 days, even in situations where the misconduct is resolved by voluntary resignation.

Again, the bill is somewhat unclear in that it does not define what constitutes “adverse action.” For instance, does reprimanding an employee for violating the employer’s tardiness policy trigger a report? This and other questions will need to be answered by either administrative rules or future statutory amendments. Facilities should err on the side of over-reporting until this issue is clarified.

HB 658 is a good first step toward ensuring that those technicians who interface with patients are legitimate health care professionals. If you are a health care provider subject to the law, you should promptly educate your workforce about the licensing and reporting requirements. You should also consult with legal counsel to implement appropriate policies and procedures for ensuring compliance with this law.

Failure to comply may result in administrative fines and adverse licensure action for the provider as well as the technician.

Attorney Katherine M. Hanna, a shareholder of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green, chairs the firm’s Health Care Practice Group. Jason D. Gregoire, an associate at the firm, practices in the fields of business litigation and health care.


October 20, 2014
Albany, GA
Code Enforcement to crack down on ASU Homecoming vendors

At this year's ASU Homecoming parade, code enforcement officers say they'll be on the lookout even more for illegal vendors.

They say no one is allowed to sell clothes, food or merchandise of any kind along the right of way, unless they own a business on the right of way with a valid business license, and they're selling on that business's private property. Code Enforcement Officer Anthony Donaldson says this is normal practice, but this year, their focusing on it even more.

"Over the past few years, it's escalated, and now it's becoming a safety issue with the local police department as well as the patrons who come to enjoy the parade," he said.

He adds that, even if you do not have an established business on the right of way, you can operate a stand during the parade if you have a valid business license for it and it sits on private property.


October 20, 2014
New York, NY
Trump Caught for Operating School without a License

Donald Trump is personally liable for operating a for-profit investment school without the required license, a New York judge ruled in a lawsuit brought by the New York Attorney General against the real estate entrepreneur.

New York state Supreme Court Justice Cynthia S. Kern said he was notified by the state in 2005 that his Trump Entrepreneur Initiative - known as Trump University until 2010 - was in violation of state education law.

"It is undisputed that Mr. Trump never complied with the licensing requirements," Kern wrote in a decision made public on Wednesday.

Damages will be determined later.

Jeffrey Goldman, an attorney for Trump, said the ruling was mistaken, but ultimately little if any damages would be awarded.

The decision came in an ongoing lawsuit filed last year by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman that accuses Trump of misleading more than 5,000 people who paid between $1,495 and $35,000 to learn Trump's real estate investment techniques.

A trial still must be held to determine whether Trump and the school defrauded students. The judge did toss out some claims and ruled that some evidence was beyond the statute of limitations.

Damien LaVera, a spokesman for Schneiderman, called the decision "an important victory" and said the office looks forward to proving the rest of the case at trial.

Goldman said "the heart of the attorney general's case has been eviscerated."

He said the judge ruled that the statute of limitations restricts claims to only the last six months the school was in existence.

The university ceased operation in late 2010, Goldman said.

The lawsuit sparked a bitter reaction from Trump, who called Schneiderman a publicity seeking "lightweight," attacked his "gross incompetence" and filed ethics complaints against him.

The case is People v. Trump Entrepreneur Initiative, New York state Supreme Court, New York County, No. 451463/2013.

(Reporting By Karen Freifeld. Editing by Andre Grenon)


October 20, 2014
Kent, WA
City of Kent Seeks Businesses Not Paying Business & Occupation Tax

Kent city officials are trying to find ways to track down businesses that apparently are not paying the city's business and occupation (B&O) tax even though they are required to pay.

City staff revealed at a City Council workshop on Tuesday that nearly 5,000 businesses are licensed in town. But only 2,800 have set up B&O accounts. Of those, 1,600 are paying the tax while 1,200 are not required to pay because of gross revenues lower than the $250,000 exemption or other waivers.

Mayor Suzette Cooke proposed in her preliminary 2015-16 budget last month an increase in the B&O tax to bring in more revenue to the general fund as well as hiring four more employees to help get more businesses to pay. The tax became effective in January 2013 and brought in $5.2 million in 2013 (dedicated to street maintenance) with $300,000 spent on two auditors.

Cooke proposed raising the B&O rate and lowering the business exemption from $250,000 of gross revenues per year to $150,000. She said those changes would bring in an estimated $3.4 million more per year to help pay for general government services and pay off city debt.

The council will decide over the next several weeks whether to go along with Cooke's proposal or come up with a plan of its own.

"To date we have not done a single audit," City Finance Director Aaron BeMiller told the council. "It has been voluntary by businesses to pay their B&O taxes. We don't have the staffing or the means at this point to go out and verify whether a business should be paying or not paying. The audit work that we've done is by looking at the returns of those voluntary compliance and collecting or reimbursing based on those payments."

BeMiller said the two-person staff spends a lot of time on taxpayer account maintenance from handling refunds to penalty assessments.

"It's a lot of work and we are just barely scratching the surface," he said. "It's a labor intensive body of work (to process returns). With the small staff that we have, we are able to process only the voluntary compliance."

The two city B&O auditors collected an extra $278,000 based on reviewing returns, said Barbara Lopez, city financial planning manager. Audits determined one company had paid in the first and second quarters but not the third and fourth quarters. Another business thought it owed no tax but a city review showed it owed money.

Councilman Bill Boyce asked city staff if it could reach out to the 2,200 businesses that haven't set up B&O accounts.

"So the 2,200 we know who they are," Boyce said. "Could we send a letter to those 2,200 saying according to our records you should be filing?"

Lopez said it is possible to compare the business license list with the B&O account list.

Councilman Dennis Higgins said he definitely would like to see that step taken.

"If you can get from 50 percent compliance to 80 percent that's 30 percent you don't have to go out and hunt down and then you can focus on the (remaining) 20 percent," said Higgins, concerned about staff reluctance to take on the task.

Lopez responded that staff already is overwhelmed.

"We are having a hard time doing any compliance work at all," she said. "We're trying to bring up the annual online forms and are working with the 2,800 taxpayer accounts we have out there. My reluctance is more about hours in the day."

Boyce suggested maybe hiring a contractor to compare the records. Councilman Jim Berrios added that there must be a way to flag businesses that renew licenses each year and whether they have filed to pay the B&O tax.

BeMiller said staff will look into that possibility and report back to the council next week during the Finance Department's report for its 2015-16 budget.

Boyce said he regrets council and staff didn't do a better job of setting up the B&O program initially.

"I was here when we started the B&O tax," Boyce said. "You can't turn the clock back but when you build a house you have to have the foundation set up. As a councilmember you probably have to ask more questions up front. There's a lot of things we have learned that if I could turn the clock back I would.

"Because in my opinion we rushed to get a lot of money but the infrastructure is clearly not in place for us to be successful and we missed out on a lot of opportunities. For me as a councilmember it's a lesson learned and I will do better next time."

http://www.kentreporter.com/news/279596062.html More...
October 20, 2014
Birmingham, AL
How Much Did Birmingham Businessman Donald Watkins Settle his $146,000 City License Dispute for?

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - Donald Watkins, a businessman who also was legal adviser to former long-time Birmingham Mayor Richard Arrington, announced today that he has settled his dispute over back business license taxes the city claimed he owed.

Watkins stated in a press release issued to AL.com that he had settled the dispute over the business license taxes for his law firm and energy resource company for a total of $11,769.

Efforts by AL.com to reach Birmingham city attorneys regarding the settlement were unsuccessful prior to the publication of this story.

Birmingham had filed lawsuits in April against Watkins and against one of Watkins' energy companies, Masada Resource Group LLC, for failing to pay business license and payroll taxes totaling more than $146,000.

At a hearing Friday, Watkins' attorney and an attorney for the city informed Presiding Jefferson County Circuit Judge Houston Brown that they had reached a settlement in the case, according to Watkins' press release.

Watkins had argued with the city over the business license assessments by the City of Birmingham.

The first case was filed by Birmingham against Watkins' law firm and alleged that the firm owed $71,104.00 in business license fees for the 2009 through 2012 assessment period, according to the press release.

Birmingham's second lawsuit was filed against Watkins' Masada Resource Group, LLC, a Birmingham-based waste-to-energy technology company that has market and project development activities in 47 countries, according to the press release. The city claimed Masada owed $2,490.00 in business license fees for the 2008 through 2012 assessment period and $72,583.00 in occupational taxes for the July 2007 to November 2012 assessment period, according to the release.

Masada acknowledged that the company has its primary place of business in Birmingham, but denied that Masada owed the $75,073 claimed by the city for business license fees and occupational taxes, according to the press release. Watkins claimed that under the "fair apportionment" requirements of the U.S. Constitution, the firm was only obligated to pay business license fees on services rendered "within the City of Birmingham," according to the statement.

Watkins says that in September and October, he and Masada provided the city with each company's confidential business and financial records for the applicable assessment periods. On September 17th and October 1st, Watkins and Masada representatives met with city representatives to review business records from 2007 to October, interview company officials, and provide additional clarity about the business operations and finances of the law firm and Masada, according to the statement.

Under the settlement of all claims against both companies through the 2014 calendar year, Watkins has agreed to pay the city $5,267.42 in full settlement of the city's claims against his law firm, according to the press release. The amount includes all business license fees from 2009 through 2014 and occupational taxes from 2013 to 2014, according to the statement.

Masada also has agreed to pay the city $6,501.76 in full settlement of the city's claims against the company, according to Watkins' statement. The amount includes all business license taxes from 2008 through 2014 and occupational taxes from 2007 to 2009. The parties also have agreed that Masada owes no occupational taxes for the period from 2010 through 2014, according to Watkins' statement.

Watkins in the press release praised the work of his attorney, Kimberly Perkins, for "effectively presenting the "fair apportionment" legal issue and in securing a fair and just settlement in the two cases."

"Kimberly is simply the top corporate attorney in Birmingham," Watkins stated. "I am extremely proud of her work on these two high-profile cases."


October 15, 2014
New York, NY
NY State Says Bitcoin Software Developers Don't Need License

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York will not require digital currency software developers to obtain a "BitLicense" to operate in the state, said Benjamin Lawksy, superintendent of financial services for the state of New York, on Tuesday.

His comments came after New York extended the period for virtual currency companies to comment on a set of proposed regulations, known as the "BitLicense" plan, that was unveiled by the state in July. The regulator aims to release a revised proposal by the end of October.

"We are regulating financial intermediaries. We are not regulating software development," Lawsky said in a speech at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City.

"To clarify, we do not intend to regulate software as software or software development. For example, a software developer who creates and provides wallet software to customers for their own use will not need a license."

The "BitLicense" plan is the first proposal by a state to create guidelines specifically for virtual currencies. It includes proposed rules on consumer protection, the prevention of money laundering, and cybersecurity.

The most prominent virtual currency right now is bitcoin, often used as an investment or as a way to pay for goods and services online.

Bitcoin prices have been extremely volatile - they fell as low as $275 on the BitStamp platform on October 5 and rose as high as $1,123 in December 2013. On Tuesday, bitcoin was quoted at $406.61.

Lawsky said companies that are developing the latest platforms for virtual currencies will not need a license, nor will individual users. Banks, however, will not be exempt.

"The banks we regulate cannot start providing virtual currency services without prior approval from DFS (Department of Financial Services), and they will be have to comply with any requirements that are otherwise imposed on virtual currency businesses," Lawsky said.


October 15, 2014
Woddstock, GA
Woodstock City Council OKs Business License Tax Amendment

City Council members took a moment of silence in honor of the late council member Tessa Basford at Monday’s meeting before discussing city business.

Councilman Bud Leonard led a prayer that thanked God for the legacy Basford left behind.

As the meeting moved forward to the agenda items, council approved an amendment to the occupational tax ordinance that the council recently adopted.

The amendment moved the wholesalers, manufacturers and distributors to a new class with a lower factor and a fee cap.

The business license tax is now calculated through the businesses’ gross receipts, rather than the number of employees.

When the city informed the businesses of the ordinance change, Mark Hudgins, development services supervisor, said there was positive and negative feedback.

“We’ve notified those local businesses and commercial business that the change was happening and got a lot of feedback from those businesses, mostly wholesalers and manufacturers,” Hudgins said. “Those businesses are very important to the city and our goal was to not over tax the small businesses.”

When the city changed the way the tax was calculated, a new class was created specifically for wholesalers and manufacturers. Hudgins said a $1,500 fee cap was also enacted on that class.

“If you have a big box retailer that is doing $20 million worth of sales, we’re not going to limit their fee to $1,500 a year,” Hudgins said. “This cap is only for the wholesalers and manufacturers.”

Another concern raised by business owners was privacy. Hudgins said the actual amount paid for the business license was going to be printed on the license, but the city will now remove it.

“If the owner frames it (the license) and hangs it in their office, someone could reverse calculate that to find out what their gross receipts were so we’re going to take that off the license all together,” Hudgins said.

Businesses were also concerned with the city requiring a business tax return to verify the gross receipts amount.

“We are going to require those tax returns, but we will not keep them and they will be destroyed in order to protect the business owners,” Hudgins said.

Councilman Chris Casdia asked the city’s privacy policy be sent out in the business license renewal package so each business owner has a copy.

City Manager Jeff Moon said a renewal notice to all other businesses outside of class one will be sent out since the city had already delayed two weeks. The business license renewals are due on Dec. 31, but the city does give a grace period through the month of January before imposing a late fee in February.

“We wanted the council to approve this amendment now so we can go ahead and send out renewals to the businesses located in the fee structure that we’re not looking at and give them as much time as possible to renew,” Moon said. “We won’t mail out the renewal postcards for wholesalers and manufacturers until we review their licenses structure. We will send them a note to tell them that their structure is under review and then bring those changes back to council at the next meeting.”

In other business, the city:

•Approved the purchase of street lights for Ridgewalk’s phase four, which will be reimbursed by the developer;

•Approved the surplus of a 2005 Crown Victoria police car, which was totaled. The insurance reimbursement was $4,669.84; and

•Approved the contract renewal with National Sign Plaza.


October 13, 2014
Orlando, Florida
Eleventh Circuit Ruling a Welcome Judicial Pushback against Criminal Enforcement of Regulations

On a balmy late August day in Orlando, Florida, nearly a dozen Orange County police officers, some dressed in ballistic vests and masked helmets, swept into Strictly Skillz barbershop with their guns drawn. As their colleagues blocked off the parking lot entrances and exits, the officers declared that the shop was closed and ordered its patrons to leave, depriving the shop of business and perhaps deterring future patrons. Two barbers and the owner were handcuffed. A plain-clothed member of the raiding party demanded to see the barbershop’s business license.

Yes, you read that correctly. On August 21, 2010, a veritable SWAT team of heavily armed police conducted a warrantless inspection to check for barbers’ licensing violations. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) inspector soon determined that Strictly Skillz barbers were properly licensed (which, as you’ll learn below, they already knew), so the police uncuffed the detained barbers and owner and left the shop.

The owner and three barbers sued a number of the officers involved for violating their Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure, and a federal district court denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds. On September 16, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a strongly worded opinion affirming the lower court (Berry v. Leslie). The ruling provides a forceful reminder that the Fourth Amendment protects businesses (and their employees) from overzealous regulatory inspections.

Regulatory Enforcement & the Fourth Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court held in New York v. Burger that administrative inspections of “closely regulated” industries could be performed without a warrant. The Court required that such inspections be “appropriately limited” in scope and execution, and not circumvent the Fourth Amendment’s requirement for reasonableness. Businesses rarely win challenges to warrantless administrative inspections, and successful suits against government law enforcement officers are equally uncommon. If the official shows he was acting within his discretionary authority, the burden shifts to the plaintiff, who must prove a constitutional violation and a causal connection between the defendant’s actions and that violation.

The Epitome of “Unreasonable.“ The Eleventh Circuit panel affirmed that the barber-shop owner and the three barbers met their burden and could proceed with their suit against the two officers. At the opinion’s outset, Judge Robin Rosenbaum noted that Berry marked the third time in two decades that the Eleventh Circuit had found the Orange County Sheriff’s Office had “conduct[ed] a run-of-the-mill administrative inspection as though it is a criminal raid.”

The facts supporting the district court’s finding that the police acted unreasonably were numerous and, as Judge Rosenbaum put it, “disturbing.” The August 21 raid was part of a larger administrative sweep of Orlando barbershops “located in predominantly Hispanic and African-American neighborhoods.” After a month of joint planning between the Sheriff’s Office and the DBPR, an inspector visited Strictly Skillz on August 19, under the guise of checking licenses, to gather information for the raid. The inspector found the licenses of the barbers and the shop to be valid.

That prior visit and the confirmation of valid licenses made the overzealous show of force on August 21, the court wrote, “all the more unreasonable” and “gratuitous at best.” The court also explained that the statute authorizing administrative inspections of businesses grants inspection authority to DBPR alone. Law enforcement can accompany DBPR inspectors, but Sheriff’s Office personnel cannot themselves conduct the inspection. “Despite this fact, OCSO officers did exactly that and more: they themselves opened drawers in barbers’ workshops and searched a storage closet in the back of Strictly Skillz.”

All Too Common. The use of heavily-armed officers in quasi-riot gear to check a hair-care license may seem absurd to the average person, as it certainly is. But as we’ve seen during WLF’s four decades of advocating for businesses’ civil liberties, it’s all too common. Federal agencies don’t hesitate to make a massive show of force when pursuing investigations of even the most obscure regulatory infractions. WLF clients, such as Massachusetts business owner Jim Knott and Louisiana’s Hubert Vidrine, fought back against environmental enforcement actions carried out by armed EPA agents. A June 2014 statement by Utah Representative Chris Stewart, who introduced a bill addressing agencies’ use of heavy weaponry, provides other examples and notes that even the Department of Education, the EEOC, and the Peace Corps maintain armed law enforcement units.

Rep. Stewart’s bill is certainly well-intentioned, but it is unlikely to ever become law. That’s one reason why decisions such as the Eleventh Circuit’s Berry ruling are so critically important. The decision may also encourage other victims of overzealous regulatory enforcement to fight back.

In order to maintain public order, law enforcement officials are rightly afforded a good amount of discretion. But when officials abuse that discretion and such abuse prevents the lawful conduct of business, the judiciary can act as an effective check, and the federal district and appellate court judges who did so in Berry deserve high praise. But other judges can only follow their lead if victims of overreaching assert their constitutional rights.


October 13, 2014
Anniston, AL
City of Anniston enforcing business license on rental property owners, managers

Around 1,800 property owners received notices last month that they owed the city of Anniston a fee for renting or leasing their properties.

Chances are, however, that many of those people won't have to pay.

Starting Oct. 31, the city will charge owners and managers of residential and commercial rental properties an annual business license fee to operate in Anniston. However, owners of multiple properties are receiving notices whether they are in the rental business or not. City officials say they are still working out the kinks to determine who actually owes the fee, but in the meantime, residents who believe they should be exempt have ways to avoid paying.

According to the city's notice, property owners who received it but are not renting or leasing their property may be exempt from obtaining a business license. Reasons for exemption could include owning a second, unoccupied property or owning a second home that is occupied with family members.

Property owners who believe they should be exempt should write a written explanation why and either email it to info@premacorp.com or fax it to 720-875-4199.

The license fee is part of an ordinance that's been on the books for seven years, but has never been enforced, said City Manager Brian Johnson. As such, the city does not yet know which property owners rent and which do not. Also, the ordinance includes residents who own just two properties.

"A lot more people got the letter than will owe money," Johnson said. "People who own just one extra property — we do not consider that a business enterprise."

Johnson said he plans to recommend the City Council modify the ordinance soon to apply only to owners or property management services who rent two or more properties in the city.

Public Resource Management Alliance Corporation, a government services consulting firm, is managing collection of the business license fee. The city hired the firm earlier this year to examine its business license structure and to find potential revenue opportunities.

"We're not set up to do this but they are," Johnson said of the fee collecting. "They are out there, updating our database, making sure everyone is paying their fair share and that someone is not overpaying."

Don Howell of PReMA Corp. said 1,800 notices were sent out in regards to the business license fee. Howell said with such little information available, that's as narrow a list as PReMA Corp. could get short of visiting every property owner in the city.

"We started with 19,000 properties and filtered and checked and got it down to people who owned more than one parcel," Howell said. "There will be a large percentage that will be exempt."

The city is in need of new revenue streams. In September, the council approved its 2015 fiscal year budget with significant cuts in many departments due to declining sales tax revenue.

Johnson said he’s unsure why the city failed to impose the ordinance, but he wants to make sure that going forward, the city properly enforces all its laws.

"It will help our revenue stream," Johnson said of the new policy. "God knows how much money the city has walked away from, how much it could have collected if it had been enforcing the ordinance."

Howell said the city was being responsible by properly enforcing its ordinances to increase revenue.

"They're doing it in the right order, making sure everyone is paying who should be paying and not just raising taxes," Howell said.

Still, for some rental property owners and management firms that will not be exempt, the fee is far from welcome.

Sylvia Bentley, who owns seven single-family rental homes in Anniston, said she thinks the fee is unwarranted.

"We as landlords invest greatly by buying homes for good people to rent," Bentley said. "It seems very hard to believe, since we went all these years without it, why do we need it right now?"

Bentley noted that the cost of the business license will be passed on to tenants, possibly meaning higher rent.

Keith Kelly, a broker with Harris McKay Realty in Anniston, which manages rental properties in the city, said many of the company's clients are very upset with the license fee. Kelly said the fee is unnecessary taxation on Harris McKay's clients, many of whom are business owners.

"I would like for our city to be more progressive than doing things like this," Kelly said, referring to the fee. "They should work to get more business into town to generate more revenue."

Anna King of ERA King Real Estate in Anniston, which manages rental properties, said the fee is anti-business.

"It's an additional expense," King said. "Rental property owners are bringing people into the city of Anniston ... it's just not right to continue to tax people doing their best to help the city."


October 6, 2014
Tax office closing causes paperwork blues
 At Shawn Elmore's new jazz lounge, The Kimbrew, tables are placed, a mural has been painted and several necessary licenses are on display. He's ready to open his new business at Kimbrough Avenue and Madison Street. Almost. Elmore has been waiting for his retail sales and use tax license and "no tax due" certificate from the state of Missouri. Without those, he said, he can't get his city of Springfield business license or his state of Missouri liquor license. Thursday, after two weeks had passed, he called the Department of Revenue to check on the status of those documents. Only then did he learn of yet another problem that was holding up the works: The state needed an original document versus a copy he'd mistakenly included. The latest delay — one of many he's experienced — has cost money every day he can't do business. "The rent doesn't stop and the utilities don't stop," he said. "With no money coming in, this is very, very challenging." He sent the needed document overnight and Friday a state representative called with his sales tax number. Elmore was relieved: "We are now to the very last toe of the last leg." It's been a long haul, with problems that started, Elmore said, when the state tax assistance center in Springfield was closed June 30. Gov. Jay Nixon cut Missouri's budget by 1.1 billion, which included the elimination of 260 full-time state positions, closing 19 regional state offices. At the time of that announcement, Buffee Smith, licensing supervisor for the city of Springfield, expressed concern for businesses needing city licenses because the city requires a "no tax due" statement from the state. Until June 30, anyone with a hitch in the process — something missing or not filled out correctly — could usually get it resolved with a trip to the local tax center. Now she suggests business owners plan at least three weeks for getting what they need in case there is a problem. "They are waiting on their software system to confirm if they are in good standing. It has slowed things considerably and I don't even know how to direct them now," she said. Michelle Gleba, director of communications for the Missouri Department of Revenue, said in an email that the state is meeting its requirement for issuing retail sales tax licenses within 10 days following receipt of a properly completed application — emphasizing "properly completed" — and that business owners can obtain a 'no tax due' certificate online unless they have outstanding issues. She said those certificates are being processed as they are received. Elmore's case may be more complicated than some, in part from timing with the local office closing, but it highlights how difficult the system can be for someone new to the process. Elmore had been working with employees at the local tax center and sent paperwork to that office, including the tax bond they'd helped him calculate. When the office closed, he started the process over with state office representatives, he said, who calculated his bond at a much higher rate. That meant going through a bond business which added more delays, resulting in expired documents and continuing problems. Officials at the city and members of the Springfield Chamber stepped up to help, Elmore said, and eventually he got through the process. But he isn't alone in feeling frustrated. Smith couldn't discuss particular cases but she said timing has gotten trickier between city and state requirements, especially with some city documents that expire. "We have yet to figure out what the perfect timing is," she said. "It's possible to not get a letter from the state before ours expires. Sometimes it can be very confusing and overwhelming." Her office as worked with some customers for well over a few months, Smith said, trying to resolve problems. "It's hard to tell from this perspective if the customer is not taking some action, or if it's waiting on the state," she said. The only recourse for business owners is communicating by phone or online with a Department of Revenue representative. Smith said she knew of a few customers who drove to Jefferson City, trying to solve a problem face-to-face. They discovered walk-in service wasn't available there either. Gleba confirmed there is no in-person assistance, although there is a designated area in the Truman Building for people to drop off payments and documents. Unexpected change In June, Gleba said in an email that 52 people lost jobs when the regional offices closed but that the state didn't anticipate delays because of that. Contacted again for this story, she stressed in an email that business owners can rely on the Department of Revenue website or call for assistance. "Although the in-person tax assistance centers were closed at the start of the fiscal year because of budget constraints, the Department of Revenue offers other resources to assist taxpayers and businesses with their questions," she wrote in the email. "As a result we're seeing more taxpayers using those resources." Smith is particularly anxious about the coming months. The city will send out notices around Thanksgiving to remind businesses they need to renew liquor licenses by Dec. 31 and business licenses by Jan. 31. That could mean a lot of people needing renewals at the same time. She suggests business owners make sure their state sales taxes are in good standing and that documents are filled out properly to reduce the change of potential delays. "Not everyone will have problems with the state," she said, "but for those who are required to have a 'no tax due' statement, I think the state will be overwhelmed and our customers will be frustrated." Has communication slowed? New business owners aren't the only ones to experience a hitch. Thad Forrester, co-owner of Hudson Hawk Barber & Shop, recently opened a third location in east Springfield. He went downtown to apply for his sales tax license at the regional center, only then learning it had closed. He submitted his materials to the state by fax and waited for his license. Like Elmore, when it didn't come in a timely manner, he called to check on its status. Only then did he learn he'd missed sending a bond form, which was holding up the process. He wondered why he wasn't informed. "One thing that I can say is frustrating is the lack of proactivity by the state of Missouri," Forrester said. "I had to call them about the status of my application and I don't know how long I would have had to wait if I had not called." Elmore was told a letter had been sent to him, which by Friday he had not received. Gleba said taxpayers are notified by mail if additional information is needed. Wading through requirements without a clear guide can be discouraging to new business owners, Forrester said. "It shouldn't be like that. When we are trying to stimulate the economy and bring new business into the area, it should be a careful process but you should be able to move through the system more efficiently than it is currently happening." That said, he added, "part of it is on us as business owners. I know that form exists. It is on their website. But you've got to make things fairly easy. They should lead you down a path versus you having to hunt and peck to figure it out." Gary Blankenship, who owns Walnut Street Inn, received notice two weeks ago that he was fined $150 for being late with his June sales tax. Except he wasn't, Blankenship said. He knew he'd mailed it in time, on July 28, to the local tax office. He went to clear it up and only then learned it had closed. When he called the state office, they found the payment in their mail. "I am a little surprised we didn't receive notices that the local office was closing," he said. Jeff Schrag, board chairman for Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and owner of Mother's Brewing Company, hasn't experienced state license difficulties, but he remembers what it's like to open a new business, especially one that serves alcohol. "I consider myself experienced and I have been tripped up," he said. Opening a business always costs more and takes longer than people think, he said. "And licensing is the last thing. You're already over budget and you have to wait for the licenses." Andy Faucett, who co-owns Bambino's, said he didn't have problems with licensing his new business, Bambino's Coffee and Smoothie Cafe. "All we had to do was file a new form with the state saying we are applying the same tax ID number. I have no complaint." But he empathizes with new business owners. "A new business would probably have a more difficult time if you aren't getting feedback. And you have to put up a tax bond, and there's a process you go through. I feel for anyone opening a new business and trying to go through that process, with all the other things you are dealing with." State sales tax assistance The state sales tax assistance center in Springfield was closed June 30, a casualty of state budget cuts. To register your business and apply for appropriate state licenses, go online to the Department of Revenue's website. You can also call or email to ask questions. The website offers many services online such as registering your business, paying taxes and receiving a No Tax Due certificate. Also: Income tax assistance is available to those who qualify from Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Centers (VITA) and American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Office locations can be found at http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Free-Tax-Return-Preparation-for-You-by-Volunteers Contacts: 573-751-3505, income@dor.mo.gov, http://www.dor.mo.gov The Kimbrew Jazz Lounge The lounge is located at 607 E. Madison Street, at Kimbrough. Check the Facebook page (The Kimbrew) for opening date. More...
October 1, 2014
Woodstock, GA
Woodstock, Canton businesses to see license changes
The City of Woodstock recently altered the way it calculates its occupational tax and some businesses could see changes. “The occupational tax is something that we have always done; it is really commonly known as the business license. This is a tax that a business owner pays for their business to occupy the City of Woodstock,” said Mark Hudgins, development services supervisor. “A lot of jurisdictions in Georgia do it and the state has specific regulations on it.” The Woodstock City Council recently approved, 6-0, a revision to the taxation ordinance that now uses gross receipts, rather than the number of employees, to calculate how much a business with a standard occupation license will be taxed. According to the city’s fee schedule: “Occupational tax is determined by annual gross receipt amount, as said term is defined in Chapter 86 (taxation), business class number according to NAICS code, and gross receipt brackets, plus a $30 administration fee. The minimum total fee is $60 per business.” All home based businesses will be assessed at $60 per year; licensed professionals will be taxed $300 per practitioner per year; and insurance agencies will be assessed a $75 per year tax. “This wasn’t a tax increase or change. It was more of changing the method that we calculate those taxes,” Hudgins said, adding that this is a more accurate way for the city to calculate the occupational tax. The city now also requires a business owner to present a business tax return to verify the gross receipts amount. Hudgins, however, said the city will not keep a copy of the tax return for privacy purposes nor will the amount the business paid in taxes be displayed on the business license. This, he added, is to avoid reverse calculations of gross revenues. “The intention is not to increase the burden on local business owners,” he continued. “Some of the larger big boxes will see an increase in their taxes just because the previous way that we did this was based on the number of employees that worked at a location. We charged a flat rate per employee to add up that tax and now we are going off the gross receipts of the business.” Gross receipts equals the total revenue of the business for the calendar year two years prior to the current license year, including total income without deduction for the cost of goods sold or expenses incurred; gain from trading stocks, bonds, capital assets or instruments of indebtedness; proceeds from commissions on the sale of property, goods or services; proceeds from fees charged for services rendered; and proceeds from rent, interest, royalty or dividend income. Hudgins said calculating the occupational tax based on gross revenues is fair across the board for all business owners. “It gives us an opportunity to get some taxes from some of those big-box retailers,” he said. “That was what a lot of the discussion at the City Council meeting was about … specifically getting those taxes to meet the services they are demanding from the city as far as police calls and fire calls that their current occupational tax wasn’t covering.” Woodstock business owner Mark Shriver, of The Shriver Law Firm, located at 301 Creekstone Ridge, said he had “no problem” with the change if it did not impact the small businesses. “My first impression is that this is an effort to raise additional needed revenue for the city,” he said. As far as mom and pop businesses, Hudgins said they shouldn’t be affected too much. “The idea was to keep them as close as we could to what they currently are paying,” he said. “That was the direction from City Council when we first embarked on changing the fees over. We did our best to keep the impact on small business owners as low as possible.” Woodstock is not the first municipality to calculate the tax using gross revenues, as Chief Financial Officer Robert Porche said neighboring counties impose similar requirements. “We looked at other jurisdiction’s fees and ran some case studies for what we estimated the gross receipts were from some of our smaller local businesses and restaurants downtown,” Hudgins said. “We found that (other jurisdictions) taxes are significantly higher; we cut our fees in half from those jurisdictions.” The city’s business license department still is working out the kinks to this new tax calculation and is looking into some solutions for issues that the city did not anticipate. “It is not a perfect system, yet, but we are working in that direction,” Hudgins said. At the Sept. 22 City Council meeting, City Manager Jeff Moon said staff is discussing an amendment to the fee schedule to discuss capping gross receipts. Hudgins said the city has not made a final decision on what the changes to the existing tax will be at this point, and the City Council is expected to vote on those changes at its Oct. 13 meeting. A gross receipts fee calculator to assist businesses in determining their tax fee is available at www.woodstockga.gov/businesslicense. “You just type in the business code that is on your license and what your gross receipts are and it will immediately calculate what the tax due is,” Hudgins said. “We tried to make it as easy as we could as far as the transition.” Canton increases tax for licensed professionals Business owners in Canton, who employee professionals licensed by the state, will see higher occupational taxes next year. The Canton City Council, at its Sept. 18 meeting, approved increasing the occupational tax for licensed professionals from $200 to $300. The state allows a per practitioner fee of up to $400. Professionals licensed by the state include, but are not limited to, lawyers, psychologists, therapists, doctors, architects, accountants and engineers. The business must pay the $300 for each licensed professional it employs. According to CFO Nathan Ingram, the city issues about 335 business licenses from licensed professionals, which brings in about $67,000 annually. The increase would generate another $30,000 in occupational tax revenue. In Canton, business owners who do not employ state-licensed professionals pay their occupational tax based on their gross annual receipts. Ingram said the city does not require tax returns to be submitted as the process is based on the honor system. “It’s an honor system unless we audit you,” Ingram said. “If we audit you, we can request a copy of your state income tax return.” Ingram said in recent history, the city has calculated occupational tax by gross receipts. The businesses employing state-licensed professionals can choose what formula by which they want to pay: either gross revenue or the $300 per practitioner fee. More...
October 1, 2014
Cullman, AL
Annual county business licenses due
A new law goes into effect this year, requiring applicants to provide Social Security numbers for individuals or the Federal Employer Identification Number for other business entities, said Cullman County Probate Judge Tammy Brown. Business licenses are due by Oct. 31 and will be delinquent Nov. 1. Those who do not renew their business licenses by Oct. 31 will face a penalty of 15 percent of the total license cost plus interest which is calculated daily. The cost of the business license is based on what kind of business it is and where it is located in the county, Brown said. The probate office mailed out 2,787 notices Monday. Licenses purchased in October are good through Sept. 30, 2015. “If you didn’t get a notice in the mail, you need to come into the probate office and get the license renewed,” Brown said. County business licenses can be purchased by mail or by visiting the probate office on the first floor of the Cullman County Courthouse. Licenses can also be purchased at the probate office’s three satellite offices: Dodge City Town Hall, Hanceville City Hall or the Baileyton sheriff’s substation. A $2 mail fee must be included when renewing businesses by mail. Required business permits, including health food permits, must be presented at the time of purchase or mailed with the renewal notice. Brown advised county business owners who do business in cities like Cullman to check with municipalities to see if they need to obtain an additional city business license. Examples of various types of business licenses include: auctioneers, automobile dealers, fireworks, pawnbrokers, handguns and knives and shotguns, rifles and ammunitions. More...
October 1, 2014
Anniston, AL
Report finds Anniston business license fees below other cities, state average
The city of Anniston could receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional annual revenue by raising many of its business license rates to state or national averages, a Monday report shows. The City Council reviewed the report on its business license fee structure for the first time during a Monday work session. It shows that the city's business license fees are far less than those of other cities in Calhoun County or cities of similar size throughout the state. It also shows some of the rates haven't been updated in decades and that some businesses are carrying more of the fee burden than others. The council made no decision on the city's business license fee structure Monday. Public Resource Management Alliance Corporation, a government services consulting firm, presented the report. The city hired the firm earlier this year to examine its business license structure and to find potential revenue opportunities. The council recently approved its 2015 budget with significant cuts in nearly every department due mainly to declining sales tax revenue. Monday’s report shows what percentage of the city's general fund came from business licenses in the 2014 fiscal year and then compares that to the general fund percentages in Oxford, Jacksonville, Homewood, Opelika, Gadsden, Daphne, Enterprise and Bessemer. It also compares the city to state and national averages. In every comparison, Anniston came in last. "If you look at the whole picture and what makes up general fund revenue sources, yours is one of the lowest," Don Howell, of PReMA Corp., said about Anniston's business license fees during the meeting. According to the report, about 3.1 percent of the city's general fund revenue comes from business licenses. That’s compared to 10 percent for Jacksonville and 13 percent for Gadsden. Meanwhile, the state average is 9.6 percent and the national average is 6.5 percent. "Your license fees are very low compared to the state of Alabama and the nation at large," Howell said. The report shows that if the city had Oxford's business license rates, it would have earned more than $257,000 in addition revenue in the 2014 fiscal year. If it had Homewood's rates, the city would have received about $1.4 million in extra revenue during the same time. More...
September 29, 2014
High Point, NC
Want to set up a produce stand? Read the fine print
Want to set up a produce stand in High Point? It’s not as simple as you may think. First, you need to get a business license. In order to get a business license in High Point, farmers need to go to the Business Licensing Department and decide what kind of license works best for their type of trade. Denise Tomaso, a privilege license specialist at the High Point Business Licensing Department said there are three options for produce vendors: • Retail license: If the business owner owns a store • Peddler’s license: For timed place-to-place selling. This usually is limited to a half hour • Itinerant merchant license: For setting up a stand for a few days. This license sometimes comes with additional fees and requirements, such as a tent and portable toilets Lee Gann, who grows produce and has partnered with the High Point Housing Authority to sell it near various public housing locations, said the most reasonable license for him to get would be the peddler’s license, but it’s impractical. “I don’t understand why the city would tell me to move every 20 minutes,” he said. While there are more than 12 food stands set up around the city each year, Katherine Bossi, the local codes supervisor on the city’s Technical Review Committee, said she receives less than a dozen permit requests a year. When she receives a request to sell produce, she said planning staff will do a zoning review, which ensures that the use is permitted in the particular zoning district. Bossi said the only time vendors can sell their products from a permanent facility’s property is if they applied for a temporary event permit, where the designated property could be used three times a year for 30 days each. To continue selling, the vendor would need to find another location. However, none of this permitting applies if somebody grows and sells from their own property, she said. “If they have a large garden there (at their home) and they want to sell from their front yard, there’s nothing that would prevent them from doing that,” Bossi said. In Randolph County, the only businesses that require licensing are pawn shops and massage therapy businesses, said Dana Crisco, deputy clerk of the Randolph County Board of Commissioners. Farmers in Randolph County are free to sell their produce via delivery, a farm stand on their property or, if they have a grower’s certificate from Randolph County Cooperative Extension, a farmers market, said Ben Grandon, an agent with Cooperative Extension and a horticulture specialist. “If it’s off their property, they just have to have permission from the property owner,” Grandon said. “Once they get that permission, all the liability falls on the owner of that property.” More...
September 23, 2014
Palo Alto, California
Palo Alto approves proposal to establish business registry
It's no secret that Palo Alto's population either doubles or triples every weekday afternoon, with thousands of workers making their way toward the city's tech corridors, restaurant strips and frozen yogurt shops. Yet getting even a rough estimate of how many workers arrive every day and how they get here remains a frustrating mystery, one that has been puzzling city planners for decades. The questions have become particularly trenchant in the last two years, as the City Council pushed ahead with a range of programs aimed at calming traffic, freeing up parking and quashing resident anxieties about the rapid pace of development. On Monday night, the council took a long-awaited step toward getting the answers when members unanimously approved a staff proposal for establishing the city's business registry. Modeled after similar efforts in surrounding cities, Palo Alto's new program would require each business to obtain a registry certificate by filling out an online form and paying a nominal fee, which officials expect will be somewhere between $35 and $75. A key component of the program will be the questionnaire that businesses will have to fill out to get their certificates. Though the document is still being hashed out, the draft version that staff unveiled Monday would require each business to disclose the number of workers on site, the number of parking spaces provided and the types of commuter benefits they provide. The idea of creating a business registry has been floating around for years, long preceding the current period of commercial growth. In 2009, the city tried to establish a business license tax that aimed to both provide employee information and raise revenues. The proposal was shot down by voters later that year. The new program is starkly different. For one thing, it does not seek to make money. Rather, it is designed as a cost-recovery program, with the fee amount covering the cost of maintaining the database. And unlike the somewhat convoluted tax proposal in 2009 (much of the public debate swirled around whether home-based entrepreneurs and teens manning lemonade stands would have to fork over a share of their gross receipts to the city), the new one aims for simplicity. Businesses will be able to complete the entire registration process online, a process that will include creating a profile, answering the questionnaire, affirming in an affidavit that the facts presented are true and making a payment. A new report from the office of City Manager James Keene argues that the need for the city to obtain "real data about employment in Palo Alto is clear." "With such data, the City can begin to measure employment trends, business growth and activity throughout the City in a cohesive and coordinated manner," Keene's report states. "Its availability is vital for developing and measuring the effectiveness of transportation demand management programs, and other transportation planning efforts." Thomas Fehrenbach, the city's economic development manager stressed this point during Monday's discussion, noting that the city is "lacking some of the basic data about employees." In recent months, staff has been trying to refine its estimate of the number of companies operating in Palo Alto, with the most recent number at 11,500. The data would be used to assist in fields ranging from land-use planning and economic development to emergency response and disaster preparedness, Keene's report states. Unlike the 2009 proposal, the business registry hasn't been particularly controversial. Of the few speakers who addressed the council on the subject Monday, not one spoke out against it. Though residents and council members offered suggestions for revising the questionnaire and simplifying the ordinance, everyone agreed that the registry is long overdue. Downtown resident Elaine Uang called the proposal a "good start" even as she urged the council to gather more information about the types of businesses that exist in Palo Alto. "The nature of work is changing," Uang said. "We have a number of people who work in this town and we need to understand what their needs are." Vikki Velkof said she was surprised that the city doesn't have a registry and said she's pleased to see the city finally adopting one. "I feel any information that can be gathered from this registry is really going to be vital for addressing our transportation needs," Velkof said. The council agreed, though members had plenty of concerns and suggestions to offer. Councilman Larry Klein was one of several to criticize the proposed requirement that businesses display their registry certificates at conspicuous places. Such a model, he said, is outdated. No business today, he said, would want certificates of this sort behind their reception desks. Klein was one of several council members who expressed unease about a proposed provision that empowers city inspectors to walk into businesses and check for certificates. "The IRS doesn't need the right to walk into the businesses to enforce the tax code," Klein said. "They find ways to find people who haven't filed returns without having inspectors walk around buildings." He also recalled the defeat of the business-license tax 2009 and argued that it's critical for the city to get it right this time around. This, he said, means keeping things simple. "One of the reasons the business-license failed that year is that the city attorney drafted something too complicated for people to understand and gave people too many opportunities to find fault with it," Klein said. "If we want this to be successful, we really need to spend time on it." Others echoed the simplicity sentiment. Councilman Marc Berman said he'd like to see the program "as simple as possible and as clear as possible." Vice Mayor Liz Kniss said she doesn't want the questionnaire to be "an inquest." "I'm hoping in the beginning this is more data collection than anything else," Kniss said. "Because I think we need to start simply. I don't want it to become so complicated so quickly that we're unable to come up with what we really need." Mayor Nancy Shepherd, also citing the public confusions of 2009, said the new program should explicitly apply to non-residential areas of the city. That way people won't think that the registry applies to a business based in someone's bedroom or garage, she said. "I'd feel more comfortable if we did declare this somehow so it would not be ambiguous," Shepherd said. The council will take up the topic of the new registry again on Oct. 6, when staff returns with the revised questionnaire and a budget amendment to fund the program. More...
September 21, 2014
Orlando, Florida
Florida Sheriffs Used SWAT-Style Attack to Enforce Barbershop License
Florida sheriff’s deputies, under the guise of checking professional licenses, raided an Orlando-area barbershop using SWAT-like tactics back in 2010 and now a federal appeals court has ruled that the search was illegal. In a ruling that allows a lawsuit against the department to proceed, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals strongly criticized the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for storming the Strictly Skillz barbershop four years ago. “With some team members dressed in ballistic vests and masks, and with guns drawn, the deputies rushed into their target destinations, handcuffed the stunned occupants—and demanded to see their barbers’ licenses,” the court wrote. The raid was one of several deputies carried out against minority-owned barbershops and salons in 2010. The justices said the deputies went too far in using a SWAT-like approach just to check whether barbers were licensed. In fact, inspectors from Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) had inspected Strictly Skillz only two days prior to the raid and found everything in order. Describing the raid as a “scene right out of a Hollywood movie,” the panel of judges wrote: “Unlike previous inspections of Strictly Skillz...the August 21 [2010] search was executed with a tremendous and disproportionate show of force, and no evidence exists that such force was justified.” The Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel reported that “no illegal or unlicensed activity was found” at the Pine Hills barbershop. Working with DBPR, the deputy sheriffs claimed they suspected unlawful activity had taken place at the shop, which caters to minority customers, and others like it. Tuesday’s ruling was a result of two deputies, Keith Vidler and Travis Leslie, petitioning that they should be immune from any civil litigation brought against them for doing their jobs. But the judges rejected their position, noting that they had twice before ruled in other cases that those participating in a warrantless criminal raid were not entitled to immunity. “Today, we repeat that same message once again,” the court wrote. “We hope that the third time will be the charm.” Both the DBPR and the Sheriff’s Office launched internal investigations following a report by the Orlando Sentinel exposing the raids. The DBPR terminated several employees and settled out of court with barbers. But the Sheriff’s Office concluded deputies did nothing wrong. -Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley More...
September 17, 2014
Donald Watkins says he is settling dispute with Birmingham over claims he owes $146K in back taxes
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Donald Watkins, who was legal adviser to former long-time Birmingham Mayor Richard Arrington, says he is working to settle his dispute with the city over how much in business taxes he owes. Birmingham filed lawsuits in April against Watkins and against one of Watkins' energy companies, Masada Resource Group LLC, for failing to pay business license and payroll taxes totaling more than $146,000. At a hearing on Thursday, Watkins' attorney and an attorney for the city told Presiding Jefferson County Circuit Judge Houston Brown that they will be meeting next week to discuss a possible settlement in the case. "I would like to have it resolved as soon as possible," Brown told the attorneys. The judge set the status conference is scheduled for Oct. 17 in case a settlement has not been reached by then. If a settlement is reached, Brown said, the attorneys can send him a proposed order to enter. The city has a pending request before the judge for an injunction to stop Watkins from practicing law or operating Masada in the city until he has paid. In the meantime, the city wants the judge to order Watkins' law office and Masada padlocked and a lien placed Watkins' property. Watkins has challenged the constitutionality of the city's business tax code. He says his legal fees and other professional services earned by him and other professionals on work performed outside Alabama are not subject to the city's business license tax because of the fair apportionment requirement of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The city claims the city's business license tax is constitutional. According to court documents the city claims Watkins did not apply for any business licenses within the city for 2009-2012 for his law office and the city used estimates based on previous years to come up with the tax due. Watkins never presented any sworn statements to support his claims on the amount he owes, the city claims. Assistant Birmingham city attorney Yolanda Lawson and Watkins' attorney, Kimberly Perkins, declined comment after Thursday's hearing. Watkins, however, responded with a statement after the hearing. "The parties have been in settlement talks since the last court hearing," Watkins said. "I have provided the city additional staffing and financial information relating both companies." "The Masada case, which has no paid employees, involves the company's use of independent contractors and external vendors outside the City limits and in foreign countries, and whether this subjects the company to occupational taxes. We say it does not. "The law firm's case involves the fair apportionment of revenues derived from services performed inside the City, as well as services performed in other domestic and foreign jurisdictions," Watkins said. "I am confident that the parties will be able to sort out the complicated legal issues here and arrive at the appropriate amount of the license fees for the assessment period." "When I started my businesses in Birmingham, my revenues were produced mostly inside the city," Watkins stated. "Today, my businesses are mostly derived from the sale of assets in international markets. Both cases have important legal consequences for international businesses that have any kind of presence in Birmingham. It is better to get clarity on the license fee issues for my global companies before these businesses are merged, sold or otherwise liquidated." Watkins isn't alone in challenging the way Birmingham has calculated taxes for lawyers and other professionals. In December 2012, a judge ordered the city to refund five lawyers the portion of business license taxes the city charged for services the lawyers provided outside the city limits. A lawsuit challenging Birmingham's business license tax calculations, which also seeks to become a class action case representing lawyers, architects, engineers and nine other professions, regarding out-of-city tax calculations is also pending. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert Vance in January placed that case on hold while the city appeals a related case. More...
September 2, 2014
Antioch, CA
Antioch Residents for Fairness recommend a yes vote on Measure O
Antioch’s Measure O will levy annual business license fees on residential rental units of $250 for single detached houses and $150 for apartments. It was unanimously approved and placed on the ballot for November’s election by the Antioch City Council. In addition, Measure O will raise the minimum license fee for all other businesses to $100 annually with the exception of some home-based small businesses, which will remain at $25. It is anticipated Measure O will generate additional revenue of approximately $2.4 million annually, helping to close a structural gap in the City’s budget in 2015 and beyond. Revenue collected under Measure O will go to the Antioch “General Fund” to support police, code enforcement and other City services. Comparing Antioch’s revenue to revenue of nearby cities illustrates that Antioch suffers from a severe revenue shortfall and not from overspending. Antioch’s total projected revenues for the 2014-2015 budget are only $404.36 per resident compared to $555.84 for Pittsburg, $681.68 for Concord, $817.35 for Brentwood, and $1255.75 for Richmond. Brentwood’s per capita revenues are double and Richmond’s are triple those of Antioch! Even Pittsburg has a 37 percent advantage over Antioch and Concord a 69 percent advantage. Business license fees on rentals are not “new” taxes as claimed by Measure O opponents. The measure will amend the City’s existing ordinance established in the 1960’s, which requires landlords pay business license fees based on a percentage of gross receipts. However, the existing ordinance was not diligently enforced over the years and many residential landlords did not pay any licenses fees as required. Many current owners and property managers are not aware of the existing law. The amendment will simplify the computation and collection of the fees to be similar to methods used by a number of other cities in California. Measure O evolved from a proposal in 2013 by the Friday Morning Breakfast Club (FMBC) in response to the Council’s request for ideas to resolve the City’s revenue shortfall. To be fairer to owners of large apartment complexes, the Council modified the FMBC’s initial proposal of $240 fees for houses and apartments alike. The FMBC agrees with the City’s modifications and has formed the committee “Antioch Residents for Fairness – Yes Measure O” to campaign for passage of the measure. Approval of Measure ‘O’ will: 1. Benefit renters, homeowners, and businesses (including residential landlords) alike with reduced crime and blight and improved City services. 2. Restore “fairness” to business license fees by ensuring that residential landlords pay reasonable license fees as do all other for profit businesses operating in Antioch 3. Provide funds to help defray the higher cost of policing and other city services associated with rentals compared to owner occupied residences. 4. Help balance the City budget to save Antioch from bankruptcy. 5. Help provide the level of services citizens should expect from local government including more police and code enforcement officers that are currently underfunded and understaffed. 6. Help clean-up Antioch to attract additional businesses and development to the economic benefit of all. As a member of the campaign committee and a 46 year resident of Antioch, I strongly urge all residents of Antioch to vote yes for Measure O. I will rebut the arguments of the opponents to Measure O in a future letter. Larry L. Harrison, Antioch Residents for Fairness – Yes Measure O Committee More...
August 29, 2014
West Virginia
Tennant reverses plan to charge extra fees for licensing papers
In an about-face Thursday, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s office scrapped plans to charge fees for some business and nonprofit licensing documents. Tennant reversed her office’s proposal to charge for filings such as business licenses, articles of incorporation and certificates of dissolution, after fielding numerous complaints in recent days. “I answer to the people of West Virginia, and I’ve taken action to address their concerns,” Tennant said. “We will not be charging additional fees.” Tennant, a Democrat, is running for U.S. Senate against Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito in the Nov. 4 election. The winner will replace retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. The Secretary of State’s Office had planned to start charging the extra fees on Sept. 4, according to a notice recently posted on the office’s website. The business licensing documents previously could be viewed online without charge. The Secretary of State’s Office removed the filings from its website in June after one document included an individual’s social security number. Afterward, some businesses started requesting hundreds of pages of filings — no longer available online — and staff members were spending hours on the requests, said Jake Glance, a spokesman for Tennant. That prompted the fee proposal, he said. Tennant’s office had proposed charging $5 to have a document sent by email and $10 to have a record faxed. Printed copies — available by mail or to be picked up in person — would have cost $1 for the first page and 50 cents for each additional page. The media would have been exempted for paying the fees. Glance said Thursday that the document requests were taking time away from staff members who help businesses file start-up registrations and annual reports. The requests also pulled away employees who were working with notaries public amid recent changes to state law. Glance said his office posted the notice about the new fees to “gather feedback.” The notice about the fees was removed from the website Thursday. After her appearance at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Summit Thursday morning, Tennant said she is still looking into the fee proposal. “I will look at that because it is important to keep the information that is available to the public, that it is as secure as possible for our businesses,” Tennant said. “… as we take a look at that, I will continue to evaluate that and see how it helps businesses and how we might be able to move forward with it.” Hours later, Tennant released a statement announcing that she had canceled the plans to charge the additional fees. Instead, Tennant has directed the office to develop “alternative solutions” to ensure the public can secure business licensing records, while allowing employees to “serve businesses to the fullest,” Glance said. The office might limit the number of requests it will respond to within a specific time, he said. The Secretary of State’s Office will post any alternative proposals before adopting them, Glance said. The West Virginia Press Association praised Tennant’s decision to yank the fee proposal. “We respect the need to look at all costs related to office operations,” said Don Smith, the group’s executive director. “However, we agree with Tennant’s statement that making ‘sure the public has access to the information they need’ is the greatest concern.” Although the office removed some business and organization filings from the website earlier this summer, several other records, including company officers’ names, addresses, annual reports and charters, remain available online. State law allows the Secretary of State’s Office to charge fees for public documents. Staff writer David Gutman contributed to this report. More...
August 29, 2014
State Licensing Boards Under Fire From Within
The Supreme Court will take up an antitrust case this fall that could curb the proliferation of state licenses, a top worry for U.S. small-business owners and entrepreneurs. At issue: Can state licensing boards staffed with business owners and professionals regulate their own markets without oversight from government employees? The case, to be heard at the nation's highest court in mid-October, started with a dispute over teeth-whitening that erupted between the Federal Trade Commission and the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners. The dental board—comprised of six licensed dentists, a hygienist and one consumer member—is accused of improperly thwarting competition while the state wasn't paying attention. The board issued nearly 50 cease-and-desist letters over the past decade to beauty parlors, spas and other small businesses that offer teeth-whitening services. The letters warned that only licensed dentists can legally provide those treatments. Corporate Intelligence Amid Licensing Backlash, A Reprieve for Arkansas Hair Braiders Such letters, as well as threatening notices to mall owners and property managers who lease space to teeth-whitening services, are "unfair methods of competition," the FTC said in a June 2010 complaint. Nondentist teeth-whitening services charge between $100 and $200, while licensed dentists usually charge $300 to $700, it said. The agency rarely receives complaints about professional licensing from consumers, said Todd Zywicki, a law professor at George Mason University and a former director of policy planning at the FTC. It is the licensed practitioners who typically pressure state boards into cracking down on unlicensed service providers. They, in turn, complain to the FTC about being harassed by the state. "That is how most of these licensing challenges start, with the members of the protected industry demanding that the states shut down their competitors," Mr. Zywicki said, adding at that point it becomes an antitrust issue. An FTC spokesman declined to comment. Experts argue that they know best how to perform a service. North Carolina dentist Christopher Phelps, who isn't on the state's dental board, said nonlicensed teeth-whitening providers fill their syringes with over-the-counter bleaching gels instead of hydrogen or carbamide peroxide. And they use generic blue light bulbs rather than ultra-violet lights to give the impression that they are providing the same level of service, he added. "It is a show—a trick," Dr. Phelps said. Ron Hayes, an unlicensed rival, runs mall kiosks in Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina that charge $99 for a 20-minute teeth-whitening session. But in February he sold his kiosk in Charlotte, N.C., in part because of the state's strict licensing requirements. "In five years we've done more than 100,000 teeth whitening jobs and never once have we put someone in the hospital," he said. Last year Nicole Gates added teeth whitening to her mobile tanning salon service in Charlotte, N.C., in the hopes of attracting more customers. She charges $60 for three 15-minute treatments. Since she lacks a dental license, Ms. Gates doesn't administer teeth-whitening chemicals to her customers. Instead, she hands them a mirror and a pen filled with a 16%-hydrogen-peroxide gel and guides them in applying it. "Her rates were a lot better than the dentist," said Wendy Hartz, who whitened her teeth with the help of Ms. Gates. The North Carolina dental board argues it is protecting public safety. Bobby White, a board administrator, says it gets 250 to 300 complaints annually about local teeth-whitening services, mostly from consumers. One person whose teeth were whitened at a tanning salon claimed he later "developed extremely irritated gums, ulcers, and possible permanent nerve damage," according to the board's filings in the lawsuit. In July 2011, Administrative Law Judge Michael Chappell ruled the dental board had violated federal antitrust law. An appeals court last year denied the board's motion to review the case, so it appealed to the Supreme Court. A decision is expected by next June. The surge in licensing laws is partly the result of a decadeslong shift in the U.S. economy. Nearly one in three occupations now requires some form of license, compared with just 5% in the 1950s, according to Morris Kleiner, a public policy researcher at University of Minnesota. Today nearly 23% of occupations are licensed at the state level, up from 20% in 2000. In the past five years, at least 14 states have added licensing for yoga instructors, including Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Utah. Other newly licensed jobs: eyebrow threading, irrigation contractors and art therapists. Most professional licensing boards are staffed with established players in those very fields. Such boards have vested financial interests, tend to be beholden to their peers, and often prevent healthy competition, according to entrepreneurs, consumer advocates and other opponents of licensing laws. Some entrepreneurs argue that state medical boards, whose members are nominated by private medical associations, can't be trusted to determine rules in other professions, including acupuncturists, midwives, massage therapists and chiropractors. Similarly, state bar associations staffed by active lawyers shouldn't set rules governing online businesses that let consumers create their own legal documents, they say. Rebecca Haw Allensworth, a law professor at Vanderbilt University who specializes in antitrust laws, said not all state licensing laws are intrinsically suspect, but in an era when consumers publicly post complaints about businesses on Yelp and other websites there is less need for professional licensing to protect public safety. State boards collect licensing fees, including licensing renewal payments. Those fees can be raised to help offset the cost of tax cuts. But many licensed professionals tend to make generous donations to politicians, said Larry Salzman, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit law firm. "Doctors, dentists and other professional associations tend to have wealthy members with political influence," he said. Mr. Salzman is representing an unlicensed teeth whitening business in Atlanta in a separate lawsuit against Georgia's dental board. More...
August 25, 2014
Chatham, GA
Chatham County investigating internal collection of license and permit fees
Chatham County officials are investigating potential financial control problems within the county’s Building Safety and Regulatory Services department. For years there have been previously documented concerns about the collection of money in the department — which is tasked with collecting, depositing and reporting county permit and license fees. At least one official has resigned. On July 29, Darrin K. Brown, operations coordinator and the third-highest ranking official within the department, submitted his resignation to Assistant County Manager Michael Kaigler. It is not clear whether Brown’s departure was related to the investigation. There have been allegations that suggest at least tens of thousands of dollars have gone missing from the department — and much more over the past several years — but officials have declined to discuss the allegations. County Manager Lee Smith initially said he was unaware of any such allegations or any related investigations but would look into the matter and call back the next day. He did not call back and did not return follow-up calls regarding the matter. County Commission Chairman Al Scott did not return a telephone call asking for comment. Assistant Chatham County Manager Linda Cramer confirmed that an official was recently placed on administrative leave and then resigned the next day. She, however, declined to discuss details of the matter. Chatham County Internal Auditor Roy Hinely said his office began an audit several months ago as a follow-up to an external audit conducted last year as a supplement to the county’s 2014 fiscal year audit. Though the so-called single audit report took issue with some practices of other county offices, Hinely declined to disclose whether any other offices were undergoing similar scrutiny, which he described as a “regular audit.” “We’re simply doing a follow-up to make sure that those findings have either been resolved or, if they’re still there, we make recommendations to resolve those findings,” he said. In June 2013, Savannah-based Karp, Ronning & Tindol found, among other irregularities, that one Building Safety and Regulatory Services employee had too much control over the transaction of fees. Based on Eisenhower Drive, the department, led by Gregori Anderson, collects fees for various licenses and permits, including business, alcohol and rabies tag licenses, as well as for special event permits, among other duties. “We observed that an employee of Building Safety and Regulatory Services is responsible for preparing the daily deposit, daily cash reconciliation, entering manual receipts into the finance system, printing permits from the permit system and has access to edit and delete files in the permitting system,” the 2013 audit found. “Also, permitting clerks are collecting cash and producing handwritten receipts which are not reconciled to collections. The system does allow for the printing of a permit without payment.” Additionally, the audit found a number of discrepancies related to the documentation of building permits. “(1) The building permit system was not able to provide a list of issued permits in numeric sequence; (2) though not significant, errors in the calculation of the fees were noted; and (3) some of the permit fee amounts are not set to calculate correctly and must be manually changed,” the report stated. The auditing firm recommended such changes as adding more staff to adequately separate responsibilities and modifications to the computer software system. Hinely said he does not know when the internal audit, which was briefly interrupted due to scheduling, will be completed. Last year’s audit findings were nothing new. Internal auditors, who often focus on cash collection points, had found similar problems of inadequate documentation and oversight in Building Safety and Regulatory Services in 2012. More...
August 21, 2014
License? Who needs a stinking license?
E ntrenched industries don’t want to lose business to upstarts, which is why the taxi industry is fighting Uber’s ride-sharing service and why automobile dealers oppose Tesla’s direct sales model. But while these high-profile battles get the headlines, many more entrepreneurs are being stifled by a more mundane burden: the explosion of occupational licensing requirements across America. Nearly 30 percent of all occupations are licensed at the state level today, compared with only 5 percent in 1950, according to the House Small Business Committee. These licensing requirements add to the cost of starting a business and tend to limit competition in many industries by imposing barriers to entry. That’s why Rep. Sam Graves, the Missouri Republican who chairs the committee, has asked the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy to study the impact of occupational licensing on entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs. “We are concerned that occupational licensing laws which are not narrowly tailored to the public benefit could have the unintended consequence of stifling entrepreneurship,” Graves wrote in a letter to the Office of Advocacy. “Occupational licensing also may impede innovation and business development as would-be entrepreneurs focus their resources on meeting licensing board requirements rather than on meeting the needs of their businesses or customers.” Graves’ committee has held two hearings on this issue. At the first hearing, the committee heard from an interior designer who has fought occupational licensing legislation for her industry in New Hampshire and South Carolina. “Licensing this industry is nothing more than restraint of trade,” said Patti Morrow, president of Juxtapose Interior Design in Greer, S.C. It also heard from Melony Armstrong, an African hairbraider in Tupelo, Mo., who successfully sued that state’s licensing requirements, which would have forced her to take 3,200 hours of classes and obtain a cosmetology license and cosmetology instructor’s license in order to teach others how to braid hair, her ultimate goal. “The group that benefited most from Mississippi’s regulatory regime was the cosmetology establishment. Practicing cosmetologists made up the State Board of Cosmetology and could set the bar for entry to their occupation high (and thereby keep competition to a minimum), and cosmetology schools enjoyed captive customers,” Armstrong testified. “I was not about to submit to such naked economic protectionism.” Last month, a Federal Trade Commission official told the committee that while licensing requirements can protect consumers from health and safety hazards, in many cases they mainly serve to impede competition. “In these situations, regulations may lead to higher prices, lower-quality services and products, and less convenience for consumers,” said Andrew Gavil, director of the FTC’s office of Policy Planning. “In the long term, they can cause lasting damage to competition and the competitive process by rendering markets less responsive to consumer demand and by dampening incentives for innovation in products, services and business models.” The FTC has written hundreds of comment letters to state officials and self-regulatory entities about coccupational licensing requirements. The agency occasionally has authorized lawsuits challenging anticompetitive behavior by occupational regulators. In 2010, for example, it challenged the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners for issuing cease-and-desist letters to non-dentist providers of teeth-whitening services. That case is now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. At issue is whether an occupational licensing board composed of private-sector representatives but created by the state is subject to antitrust scrutiny. “It is likely that the Supreme Court’s ruling will have significant implications for occupational licensing boards moving forward,” Graves wrote. More...
August 21, 2014
Rutherford, New Jersey
Rutherford Downtown Partnership has new manager, enforces collection of licensing fees
RUTHERFORD - The Rutherford Downtown Partnership has hired a new manager, and as of Friday, will require that all businesses reconcile defaults on licensing fees. Rutherford Downtown Partnership (RDP) President Barbara Obiedzinski informed the Board of Trustees at their regular meeting on Aug. 19 that NJ Transit has given them three months to vacate the former taxi stand. The RDP has been operating in the station rent-free since summer 2012. The space needed to vacate is used for storage. The nearly 130-year old train station underwent a federally-funded renovation to restore the historic building, reopening to much fanfare in October 2010. The project took nearly three years and cost $1.9 million. Under an agreement between Rutherford and the NJ Transit, the responsibility for operation and maintenance for the station waiting room lies with the borough, and space within the station such as the ticket office and the coffee shop can be subleased by the borough. The area in question was once a taxi stand, and the RDP was not permitted to use it as it was not included in their lease, said NJ Transit spokesperson Nancy Snyder. It was being used for storage by the organization, she added. NJ Transit published a public notice seeking construction bids for Rutherford Train Station Interior Restoration Project Phase II on Aug. 5. The pending project will consist of interior renovations to the Rutherford Train Station, including historic restoration, electrical work and installation of laterals for future water and sewer connections. Bids are due by Aug. 25. New manager selected The RDP has hired a new full-time manager to replace the previous part-time manager, David Porter. It also intends to bring aboard another part-time assistant to handle the RDP's workload. This translates to a more stable administration for the organization. Al Zaconi will start on Sept. 1, barring final approval by the borough of the RDP budget, the president said. A hearing on the budget is scheduled for Aug. 26. Zaconi's salary is set at $60,000 annually. Porter served as the interim, part-time manager from March 2013 until April 2014, staying on afterwards to help with such duties as attending meetings and assisting with the transition. Before Porter, Robin Reenstra-Bryant served as the RDP full-time for 12 years, before resigning in summer 2012. Under its bylaws, the manager is responsible for the day-to-day management of the downtown corporation, presenting an annual budget and operating within that budget. Given the many duties a manager oversees - interacting with merchants, event promotion, coordinating with contractors for projects like the tree planting, fielding and responding to streetscape applications, assisting businesses as needed, etc. - the partnership needs a full-time manager, Obiedzinski said previously. All of these tasks are deadline sensitive. The RDP is also seeking candidates to handle social media and monthly newsletter writing. Presently, the RDP has one part-time assistant, who has been filling in the absence of a manager. Maintenance of the RDP's social media was previously done on a volunteer basis, but proved to be a time-consuming responsibility, Obiedzinski said. In addition, the RDP hopes to hire and pay an architect to aid in the review of sign and façade applications that come before the Board of Trustees. As trustee and streetscape committee chair Bruce Dolin explained, at times, the committee needs help with technical questions raised while looking over applications. According to the published RFQ, applicants have until Aug. 29 to apply for the three positions. Arrears letters Businesses behind on their annual business license fees will be receiving a letter about being in arrears, said Councilman Mark O'Connor, liaison to the RDP board. The letters should go out on Friday, Aug. 22. Approximately 200 letters went out to the 400 businesses. As of March, only 140 of the nearly 400 businesses had paid their required fees , the RDP reported. The custodian of records and municipal clerk said a copy of the letter which would describe fines and penalties would not be available to the South Bergenite until Friday. By ordinance, the improvement district is run and managed by the RDP, which serves as a non-profit management corporation funded by the special assessments and business license fees within the designated district. It is the town however that collects the fees and the tax. Businesses are levied a $150-$250 fee, depending on the square footage of the establishment, for a special business license. More...
July 31, 2014
YORK, Maine
York innkeepers need to renew business license
YORK, Maine — The town’s Community Development director is reminding owners of York’s hotels, motels and inns of a new business ordinance requiring them to renew their business license annually. Voters passed the new ordinance in May, according to Community Development Director Steve Burns. “Everyone has to have a business license annually,” Burns said Wednesday. “In the past we only did that if it had cooking facilities in rooms.” The cost is $60 each year, or if the innkeeper already pays for other licensing requirements, it is an additional $30 charge, according to Burns. The innkeeper’s license is a new requirement for all hotels, motels and inn, whether they are open seasonally or year-round, he said. The town enacted the ordinance to be in compliance with state law, according to Burns. All innkeepers are required to come into York Town Hall for a business license by mid-November, Burns said. This is to reflect a grace period of six months from when the business licensing requirement went into effect in mid-May, he said. For questions, or to ask about mailing in a business license, innkeepers should contact Missy Avery, the town manager’s administrative assistant, at 207-363-1000. More...
July 25, 2014
Anyor, SC
Aynor business license violators need to pay up
Aynor business owners whose business licenses aren’t up-to-date may soon be hit with hefty fines. At Monday’s monthly Aynor Town Council meeting, Mayor Keb Johnson said the town is going to start enforcing its business license laws. Window World_Cruise “We have a select few businesses that we are close to threatening to take to the magistrate. Our town code states the town cannot shut down a business, but we can fine them up to $500 per day. We don’t want to do that. The last thing we want to do is hinder a business from making money for their families,” Johnson said. “At the same time, it’s not fair to the businesses that do pay for their licenses.” Johnson did not name the businesses that are operating on expired licenses, but said they know who they are because “we contacted them personally.” Council member Tony Godsey Sr. said he agrees with the decision to begin the enforcement. “If you do not renew your driver’s license on time, you pay a penalty for that,” Godsey said. Council member Stan Woodle said the reason the businesses have not paid their business license fees is because they know the ordinance is not being enforced. “It’s not because they don’t have the money. It’s not because they don’t have the business,” Johnson added. The enforcement of the law will send a message that “I cannot shut you down, but I can write you a citation for up to $500 per day. I want to get the point across that it is not going to be tolerated anymore,” Johnson added. Supporting the champions Also during Monday’s meeting, council agreed to make a financial contribution to help cover some of the expenses for the town’s three girls teams that have earned spots in the Dixie Youth Softball World Series games. The Sweeties, the Angels and the Ponytails will travel to different cities to play in the prestigious tournament. Players will leave today to play in Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee. With 12 players and four coaches for each team, the cost is about $15,000 per team. The cost could even be higher if any of the teams make it through all six days of the tournament. “I would like to see if y’all would be willing to agree to make a donation to try to help these three teams with their travel expenses,” Johnson asked council. Johnson said Horry County Council has pledged $1,000 per team to help with the costs. “I have done some checking and we can do it out of our hospitality (tax) funds. I would like to see if you would be in agreement to do the same as the county has done,” Johnson said. Council unanimously passed the motion. “I will take them a check tomorrow,” Johnson said. More...
July 23, 2014
Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs council raises some fees, leave others intact
After much talk from elected officials about the need to reduce city fees for Colorado Springs businesses, developers and citizens, Tuesday's City Council meeting ended with all existing fees intact and an increase in golf and cemetery fees. The City Council was unable to override Mayor Steve Bach's vetoes of a set of council-approved ordinances that would have eliminated most business license fees. Council member Helen Collins had hoped that doing away with such fees, ranging from $15 to $515, would have inspired entrepreneurs to open more small businesses throughout the city. But Bach vetoed the ordinances, saying that eliminating the fees, which add up to about $400,000 a year, would be a problem because the city still would have to process business licenses without the fees to cover the administrative costs. In addition, Bach said the city's clerk is reviewing the city's business licensing program and expects to make recommendations in September. He had hoped the City Council would hold off on its ordinances until then, he said. The Council needed six votes to override the vetoes but did not have them. Council members Val Snider, Jan Martin, Merv Bennett and Jill Gaebler voted to sustain the mayor's vetoes. Collins, upset over the vote, said, "The purpose of this was to help small businesses. Three of the four councilors against this are at-large, and I believe they are out of touch with small businesses in this community." Meanwhile, Bach was pitching a different kind of fee-elimination plan. He wanted the City Council to waive school and park fees for downtown residential developers. The idea is an effort to jump start downtown development, said Bob Cope, the city's principal analyst and project director of City for Champions. A number of downtown developers, including Perry Sanders, who spent $30 million turning the old downtown mining exchange into a Wyndham Grand Hotel, urged the council to approve Bach's plan. Sanders and other developers said construction and land are more expensive downtown and it has soured builders from investing. A little help from the city could be a turning point, they said. The fee waiver would have applied to downtown residential development in the area bounded by Cache La Poudre Street on the north, Interstate 25 on the west and south and North El Paso Street on the east. Park fees are $1,781 and school fees are $1,532 for eight units per acre. The council only was considering waiving the park fee Tuesday. It expected to have the school fee come back at a later meeting. Park fees were established in the 1970s and meant to help pay for the cost of new parks, said Darsey Nicklasson, vice president and project manager of Blue Dot Place. She is working on a 33-unit apartment complex and faces park and school fees of more than $53,000. The park fee should not apply to infill projects, Nicklasson said, because the parks already are built. She went further to say that the city should consider waiving the fees for infill projects across the city. Her business partner, Kathy Loo, agreed. Eliminating fees for downtown developers could be just the beginning of some new development policies, she said. "It's not doing anything but starting a movement that I think could do so much for our entire community," she said. Council members Bennett, Martin, Snider and Gaebler liked the plan and said downtown is in desperate need of residential housing that might attract young professionals and revitalize the area. Martin said the downtown plan to waive fees, which would have been a three-year program, could be viewed as a pilot and expanded to other areas of the city. But the plan failed on a 5-4 vote. Council president Keith King said it wasn't fair to target one area of town. Meanwhile, council members were nearly united on increasing golf fees in 2015, voting 8-1 to raise fees from $28 to $29 to play 18 holes at Patty Jewett and Valley Hi golf courses. Golf fees have not increased since 2009, said Dal Lockwood, the city's golf manager. Council member Don Knight was against the fee increase, saying the city needed to focus on getting more players. "The golf course makes money by volume," he said. He worked at a golf course in college and said the managers discounted rates to attract players. "That is what we should be doing here, giving discounted rates instead of raising rates," he said. The council also approved an increase in cemetery fees. In 2015, a basic space will go from $800 to $900. A cremation estate will go from $1,200 to $1,500. And disinterment fees will go from $1,000 to $1,300. Originally, the city's cemetery operations administrator, Will DeBoer, wanted the disinterment fees to go up to $3,000, saying there may be many families who will want to move their veteran loved ones out of the city's cemeteries and into a national veterans cemetery planned near Colorado Springs. But some council members felt the proposed 200 percent disinterment hike unfairly targeted veterans. A 374-acre national cemetery at South Powers Boulevard and Bradley Road is expected to open in 2015 with full completion by 2017. Already some families have asked city officials about moving their loved ones, DeBoer had said. The new golf and cemetery fees will be begin in 2015. More...
July 23, 2014
St. Lousi, MO
St. Louis License Collector Race Flies Under The Radar
In August, two Democrats will meet in a relatively low-key primary to head an office that oversees between $50 million and $60 million each year. St. Louis' license collector is charged with collecting several taxes and issuing business licenses. Two Democrats are vying for the office. The winner in the Aug. 5 primary will take on the Green Party candidate in November. The Democratic primary for St. Louis license collector pits incumbent Mavis Thompson against challenge Jeffrey Boyd. Credit (via Flickr/lowjumpingfrog) Mavis Thompson is the incumbent in the race, although this is her first time running for the position. Gov. Jay Nixon appointed her to the office in October 2013, when incumbent Michael McMillan left to head the St. Louis Urban League. Previously, Thompson was the circuit clerk for the 22nd Judicial Circuit and an assistant attorney general for Medicaid Fraud Control. In an interview, Thompson said she is proud of what her office has done in the months she has been in office. "We set priorities, that was a change. We didn't have priorities set before my administration," Thompson said. "The other thing we've done is employee development. We make sure that every single employee has gone to customer service training, so we can give the best customer service to those coming in to our office for services." She says she has also made the office more inclusive -- putting out pamphlets on the license collector office in Bosnian, Vietnamese, Spanish and braille. But other politicians had expressed interest in the appointment, notably her primary opponent: Alderman Jeffrey Boyd. Credit (via Citizens to Elect Jeffrey L. Boyd) Boyd has been the 22nd Ward alderman since 2003. Before that, Boyd served in the army for 23 years. He says his experience on the Board of Alderman prepared him for the job, particularly because he "has sat on almost every committee. One of the most (important) committees being Ways and Means," Boyd said. "I understand the city's financial situation, I understand how to analyze budgets, and I also know how to manage people." Both the candidates are college educated. Thompson attended the University of Missouri, receiving a nursing degree and law degree. She also graduated from the John F. Kennedy School of Government Program at Harvard University. Boyd attended Columbia College for his undergrad and received an MBA from Fontbonne University. Mavis Thompson Credit (via St. Louis License Collector's office) If elected to a new term, Thompson said she will put in place a business advisory council "because we can't be everywhere all the time," she said. "Sort of like a neighborhood watch, so they can also be our eyes and ears as a watchdog for businesses across the city." Boyd, on the other hand, said his goal would be to streamline the license collector office, making it a "one stop shop, whereby I would eliminate the steps of going to the collector of revenue and the building division," he said. "Using 21st-century computers, we should be able to be able talk to each across departments." Boyd has outspent Thompson in the race. The alderman's campaign committee has spent roughly $52,000 this year, compared to Thompson's nearly $19,000. The bulk of Boyd's spending has gone toward printing mailers ($18,555) and canvassing the city ($15,658). He also spent nearly $13,000 on fundraising and consulting. Thompson, meanwhile, has spent $6,750 on campaign workers, as well as $2,725 on highway and yard signs. As of July 15, Thompson had $46,000 in her campaign chest that she can use. At the same time, Boyd still had $83,000 remaining. The two candidates have different city officials in their respective sides of the ring. Thompson has been endorsed by President of the Board of Alderman Lewis Reed, Treasurer Tishaura Jones and Comptroller Darlene Green. Boyd has been endorsed by St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, Collector of Revenue Gregory Daly as well as 16 aldermen. Whoever wins on Aug. 5 will move on to face Green Party candidate Donald Devivo. More...
July 23, 2014
Seattle, Washington
Popular mobile fashion boutique snagged by city permit confusion
The owner of a popular local clothing boutique just learned she may be forced to button up some of her business in order to stay legal. She's part of the new and growing trend of turning box trucks into traveling retail stores. But confusion over permits is unraveling part of her business plan, and she's not alone. Before Malika Siddiq invested her life savings in a mobile fashion boutique 7 months ago, she says she saved her money and did her homework to make sure everything was by the book. She says she contacted the city to make sure she had the proper documents. "I just got the licenses they told me I needed," said Siddiq. "My resellers license, my Washington state business license, my City of Seattle license. I'm a legit business owner. I want to follow all the rules. I want to do everything the right way." Siddiq says her new business, Lika Love Mobile Fashion Boutique, took off even better than she anticipated and everything was great until last Friday when she got an unexpected customer with a badge. She was parked along Seattle's Alki Beach, set up as usual. "And a police officer pulled up behind me and he came up and started asking me questions about my licenses. And I explained to him that I had all the licenses that the city had told me that I needed," Siddiq said. The Seattle police officer told Siddiq that city ordinance required her to have a vendor's street use permit because her truck was on the public right of way. Violation carries a fine of $500. The officer let her off with a warning but made her close shop. Siddiq says she later discovered that other truck vendors on Alki had not been stopped by the officer -- including another mobile clothing boutique. According to the Seattle Police Department, Siddiq's truck location was one of two locations where the officer conducted license checks before getting called away. Despite repeated attempts to get the required permit, Siddiq says she kept hitting a wall. No one at City Hall could help. "I made calls and talked to people at the city. They said they'd never heard of a mobile boutique before. And there was no type of permit available for me," she said. Siddiq is not the only mobile vendor to run into the same permit confusion. Trent Ottosen and a friend recently started a mobile cell phone repair business. They perform on the spot repairs when people drop their phones, and occassionally sell new cell phone cases. Ottosen says police haven't bothered him at Alki, but he too was told by the city there is no permit to get. "We talked to the licensing people and they said there are no permits or ordinances for our type of business," he said. Siddiq suspects her boutique may have attracted police attention because, unlike the cell phone repair business, her displays take up space outside the truck. For now, the only way she can legally sell her clothing and accessories is on private property with the owners permission. But it seems even some city workers may be confused about the permit requirements. It took me several calls to several city departments to find someone to give me a definitive answer about retail truck permits. According the SDOT's Street Use Division, with few exceptions -- food trucks being one of them -- a long-standing city code prohibits vending on public streets or sidewalks. And you can't get a permit, because permits for selling clothes, repairing phones or doing other business on the street from a truck do not exist. The only way to change that is to get the ordinance changed -- like the food truck vendors did. So, why didn't city workers tell that that to Siddiq, Ottosen and others? Without knowing who Siddiq spoke with or what she was told, a spokesperson for the city Licensing Division told me that in a similar situation, if a person contacts the business license line and indicates they are planning to operate a mobile business in the public right-of-way, in addition to explaining a business license is required to conduct business in Seattle, staff would direct her to the Seattle Department of Transportation's Street Use Division to determine if the activity is allowed and what permit may be needed. If the business owner did not specify the business would be mobile, then staff would simply tell her she needs a business license to conduct business in the city of Seattle, and also refer her to the state Department of Revenue to obtain a Washington State Unified Business Identifier Siddiq says she thought her initial explanation -- a mobile fashion boutique -- made it pretty clear that she would be selling clothing out of her truck. She says the customer service rep never asked for more details. Bottom line: retail trucks like Siddiq's and Ottosen's are a developing trend and appear to be different than most other vending businesses city workers are accustomed to dealing with. Until the street vendor ordinance changes, anyone hoping to start a retail business in a box truck should be very specific about how they plan to execute their business. If the business involves offering products or services to the general public- make sure the transactions take place on private property. Selling on city streets, sidewalks or other public right of ways means you're taking a $500 risk More...
July 21, 2014
New York
N.Y. Proposes Licensing Plan for Bitcoin Businesses
New York's top financial regulator on Thursday proposed the toughest restrictions on bitcoin companies to date, unveiling a plan that would require firms dealing in virtual currencies to hold certain levels of capital, hire compliance officers and obtain special licenses. Regulators around the country are grappling with how to oversee virtual currencies as more entrepreneurs create bitcoin trading exchanges and merchants accept it as a method of payment. The latest proposals come after nearly a year of scrutiny by the New York Department of Financial Services. "My hope is that the companies that can meet these rules will give consumers a lot of confidence when they do business with these companies, and that will help those companies thrive and succeed," said Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of the department, in an interview. Bitcoin is an online currency created on powerful computers and can be traded between users or used to buy more goods and services. Unlike traditional currencies, it isn't backed by a central government. "This starts to solve the regulatory landscape question for virtual-currency companies," said Chris Daniel, a lawyer at Paul Hastings LLP in Atlanta who represents bitcoin companies. He said other states are likely to follow New York's proposal, which he described as "very fair and a great starting point." The so-called bitlicense is aimed at businesses that receive, exchange, transmit or store virtual currency on behalf of customers, or those that buy and sell virtual currencies as a business. It doesn't apply to consumers or merchants who use virtual currency to buy or sell goods and services. It also doesn't cover bitcoin "miners" who generate the currency electronically. The proposed license includes a long list of requirements for bitcoin businesses. Companies would have to provide extensive safeguards for consumers, including transaction receipts, disclosures about risks, and policies to handle customer complaints. Companies also would have to follow anti-money-laundering rules, maintain a cybersecurity program, hire a compliance officer and verify details about their customers. Such requirements could derail attempts by some bitcoin users to keep their transactions anonymous, as well as aid law-enforcement efforts to crack down on illegal activities that involve virtual currencies. The proposals drew a mixed reaction from the bitcoin community. Some said the new rules would apply to more companies than had been anticipated. "Trying to regulate the entire industry right now is extremely premature," said Patrick Murck, general counsel for the Bitcoin Foundation, an industry trade group. While he said he is pleased that New York regulators engaged with bitcoin enthusiasts before creating the proposal, Mr. Murck added that too much regulation could drive the burgeoning businesses overseas. The prospect of hiring a compliance officer may be particularly tough for companies that are just starting up, said Jaron Lukasiewicz, chief executive of Coinsetter, a New York bitcoin-trading platform. "Compliance officers are some of the most expensive hires out there right now, and finding a quality person is also difficult," he said. In a nod to bitcoin enthusiasts, the New York regulator also issued its proposals on Reddit, a popular online forum. The proposal includes a 45-day public comment period, after which it will be subject to additional review and potential revisions. "I think the regulations are the product of a lot of give-and-take already and a lot of time spent by our team trying to get their arms around how to do it the right way," said Mr. Lawsky. More...
July 21, 2014
Manhattan Moment: Professional licenses, not taxes, are the biggest barriers to small business creation
What is the biggest challenge faced by small businesses today? Surprisingly the answer is not high taxes — it is professional licensing requirements. Thumbtack, a business services firm, in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, recently released its third annual Small Business Friendliness Survey. This comprehensive survey collects data from nearly 13,000 diverse small business owners to evaluate how business climates differ across the nation. Doing so provides a clearer picture of how policies affect entrepreneurs than does only analyzing government data. Licenses, requirements that individuals gain government permission to work, raise the barriers to entry in an industry, in terms of both time commitment and cost. Barriers to entry also allow those who already have established businesses or can afford to comply with onerous regulations to charge higher prices, hurting consumers. Sign Up for the Politics Today newsletter! Entrepreneurs are focused on bringing their ideas and skills to market, and want to use all their available, and often limited, resources to do so. Seeking government approval to go into business is a waste of their valuable time and money. This is why the friendliness of professional licensing regulations was found to be the only statistically significant non-demographic variable for predicting states' business environments. Only 35 percent of Thumbtack's respondents thought they paid too much in taxes, showing that respondents did not use the survey to complain about every difficulty they face. Many small business owners saw professional licenses as their largest problem because these requirements have moved far beyond their justification of protecting public safety. Half of Thumbtack's respondents reported being subject to at least one professional licensing requirement. This is not surprising. University of Minnesota economist Morris Kleiner and Princeton University economist Alan Krueger found that nearly four out of every 10 U.S. workers will require government certification or licensing to work in their desired occupations. Excessive permitting processes are part of professional licensing. They also act as a deterrent to work and were seen as a large problem by small businesses. The utter complexity of many states' permitting processes makes it difficult for entrepreneurs to focus on getting their ideas off the ground, and for small business owners to devote the necessary time to ensuring their businesses stay alive. "Thumbtack's findings do not stand alone. John Dearie and Courtney Geduldig, in their book Where the Jobs Are, describe what they learned from holding 12 roundtables and countless meetings with entrepreneurs throughout the country. Alan Blake, of Austin, Texas-based Yorktown Technologies, told Dearie and Geduldig, "Small businesses in particular struggle with the complexity and risk associated with employment-related regulations. The result is that many companies are much more reluctant to hire than they would be otherwise." Since new businesses create about three million jobs a year, and account for practically all net new job creation, policies which make it harder for entrepreneurs to get their businesses off the ground are especially destructive. When small businesses are able to prosper, the economy grows. As the Thumbtack report states, "Over 99 percent of U.S. employer firms meet the Small Business Administration's definition of small businesses, and they account for nearly half of all private sector employees. Over the past two decades, almost two-thirds of net new private sector jobs have come from these small businesses." While tax burdens and complexity rightly receive much attention, professional licenses are often ignored. This is one reason occupational licenses and permitting requirements continue to grow in number and scope. As Thumbtack's survey shows, small businesses owners know what stands in the way of success. The economy would grow much faster if professional licenses were reformed. More...
July 17, 2014
Myrtle Beach annexation vote passes; city expanding
  The city of Myrtle Beach grew by a little more than 600 acres Tuesday as voters in two communities said “yes” to being annexed into the city. By a 56-24 vote, registered voters in the Bridgeport and Waterside Drive communities approved a move to be annexed into Myrtle Beach, much to the chagrin of dozens of businesses in the area that will now face higher property taxes and business license fees. The business owners did not get to vote in the election. The unofficial vote breakdown is as follows: Coastal Lane 2 precinct: 47 yes, 11 no Sea Oats 2 precinct: 3 yes, 13 no Absentee ballots: 6 yes The Bridgeport community voted in the Coastal Lane 2 precinct and it was this group of voters that the city courted early on, promising new roads, according to some of the residents there. Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes said Tuesday evening that he welcomes all of the residents and businesses in the newest part of the city and looks forward to being their mayor. “They can be an asset to the city and we can be an asset to them,” Rhodes said. Car dealership owner Freddie Hyatt said he and the group of other car dealers in the annexed area would get together with their attorney to discuss any possible actions against the city concerning Tuesday’s vote. The Horry County Election Commission will meet Thursday to certify the vote. More...
July 16, 2014
Dothan, AL
Dothan searching for unlicensed businesses
City Manager Mike West said the City has worked with Revenue Discovery Systems for a number of years to identify businesses operating without a license and subsequently collect fees. RDS splits the revenue with the City from any fees assessed. West said the City has already collected $38,000 this year through the partnership. “They go and look for people who don’t have business licenses, collect the fees and get part of what they find,” West said. “They have databases they can search against other databases. They have resources we don’t.” RDS is paid only on a percentage basis, so its revenue is directly tied to the business license fees it collects. West said there are numerous reasons the process is important, including public safety. “A business license application prompts us to make sure it’s properly zoned,” he said. “Plus it gets inspected for fire safety. There are real life-saving issues involved in the licensing process.” West said police also use business license records in certain situations, such as making sure convicted sex offenders don’t live within a certain distance of new daycare facilities. Since Oct. 1, RDS has collected $52,693 in fees, with Dothan receiving half of that. For detailed steps on how to apply for a business license, click here. In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, the commission approved the Community Development Block Grant 2014 Fifth Year Action Plan, which calls for the distribution of a projected $447,701 to local agencies. More...
July 15, 2014
Hilton Head Island, SC
Town Council denies Kigre's appeal in business-license dispute
After the S.C. Supreme Court rejected Kigre Inc.'s attempt to avoid paying Hilton Head Island business license fees, the laser-component manufacturer continues to fight the town. Town Council on Friday denied Hilton Head-based Kigre's request to change how it is classified on its business license. Such a change would cut the company's license fees in half, according to Tom Taylor, an attorney for Kigre. Town staff attorney Brian Hulbert said the town does not disclose what companies pay in business license fees because it's based on annual income. Kigre argued the town has misclassified the company as being in a business category that does not reflect what it manufactures. Kigre is classified in the medical-equipment category but produces nothing of the sort, Taylor says. Town staff members have said Kigre has not provided the information needed to be considered for another category. The town has been forced to use information from the company's website, Hulbert said. Kigre representatives disagree. They argue the town wants information to prove Kigre does not manufacture medical equipment. "How can you prove a negative? You can't," Kigre chief operating officer Jeff Myers said. Council members sided with the town, saying staff "appropriately determined the classification based on the information provided by Kigre." Taylor said Kigre would appeal the decision in court. He said the decision was irrational and based on "the animosity that has developed between town staff and executives at Kigre." The town and Kigre have long been at odds. In June, the state Supreme Court upheld the town's business-license fee after an eight-year legal battle with Kigre. The court ruled the town has not violated the U.S. Constitution's interstate commerce clause by charging Kigre a fee based upon its gross income. The company had argued that since most of its income is derived from out-of-state customers, it should not have to pay the full amount. The town sued the company in 2006, arguing that Kigre's income from sales outside South Carolina is not exempt because the company does not pay a business license fee anywhere else. Taylor said Kigre has petitioned the state Supreme Court for a re-hearing. If that is denied, Kigre will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, he said. More...
July 14, 2014
Long Beach, CA
Undercover Business License Operation Nets Two Arrests
Two men were arrested recently after police found they were operating a business without a license in Long Beach. Both men worked at Cell Bros, located at 1029 E. 4th Street, where a search warrant was served as part of an undercover business license compliance operation over the course of the last two weeks, the Long Beach Police Department said in a statement. During the operation, an undercover detective would enter a business that sells jewelry or electronics, and attempt to sell jewelry or electronics to the store. According to the LBPD, the purpose of the inspections was to check that the businesses were operating within the terms of their license, and not buying lost or stolen jewelry or electronics. In total, 34 businesses were inspected, police said, which resulted in six citations and two misdemeanor arrests for business license violations at seven businesses, police said. Cell Bros employees Davyd Williams, 28, of San Leandro, and 33-year-old Damone Williams of Long Beach were arrested on June 17 for operating the business without a business license and for providing false information to an officer, said LBPD spokeswoman Nancy Pratt. An inspection at a different electronics store recovered about 30 cell phones with altered or removed serial numbers, computers and more than $24,000 in cash, police said. Anyone wishing to report unlawful business practices relating to the purchase and resale of stolen property should contact the Burglary Detail at 562-570-7351. Anonymous tips may also be submitted by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), texting TIPLA plus the tip to 274637 or visiting lacrimestoppers.org. More...
July 11, 2014
Horry County, South Carolina,
Businesses face high fees if annexed to Myrtle Beach
Some businesses in Horry County could be annexed into Myrtle Beach, and several car dealerships are trying to fight it. But only voters will have the final say when they head to the polls on Tuesday, July 15. Some car dealerships say if they are annexed, they could see a dramatic increase in what they pay for their business licenses. In some cases, dealerships could be forced to pay up to ten times what they are paying now, just to stay open. "The businesses effected, many of them are going to have to pay an incredible business license fees. In fact if you look at the city's documents, almost 96 percent of the revenue will be generated by these business and they don't even get a vote," said Thomas Brittan, Hyatt GMC's attorney. To get the annexation question on a ballot, signatures of residents who would be affected were needed. 25 percent of residents signed the petition asking to be annexed in the city. But business owners contend the signatures weren't collected properly. They say they were collected two years ago. "We have other problems with the way the notices were done. The timelines and that sort of thing. But what is much more of a significant issue is the taxing or licensing or getting revenue from a group that has no say in it," Brittan said. Mark Kruea with the City of Myrtle Beach says the signatures were verified. He says the city is doing everything correctly when it comes to annexing areas into the city. Brittan has requested all of the documents from the city associated with the annexation. "We have reviewed them at my law firm and what we have come up with is several issues. We will be asking the city to postpone or walk away from this annexation based on these short comings that we think are there," Brittan said. "Then they may go forward with it, if so then we intend to contest the legitimacy of it." If the businesses are added, the City of Myrtle Beach estimates the business license fees collected from dealerships to be around $450,000. More...
July 8, 2014
Lauderdale County, AL
Jail time for man accused of running HVAC business without license
A Lauderdale County man will spend time in jail for running a HVAC business without a license. Dan Beavers was originally charged with three counts of not having a contractor’s license for his family-run business. On Monday, a judge sentenced Beavers to 12 months in jail after he was caught working on units again without a license. Officials said he also took out an ad in a paper for his business. He had pleaded guilty to similar charges this spring. "I think he just mistakenly believed nothing was going to happen to him," said Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly. "We issued a bench warrant for him, had a hearing today, and got his sentenced imposed." Beavers' attorney said he believes imposing the sentence is an excessive penalty and plans on asking the court to reconsider. The judge in the case said Monday that based on the evidence show, Beavers has shown blatant disregard for the law - a statement Beavers himself disagrees with. "The court system is not working," Beavers said outside the courtroom. "Can you imagine going to jail for working on someone's air conditioner after I had a license for 40 years?" Officials with the Lauderdale County School District, where Beavers sits on the board, could not comment on the court case. Beavers has been on the board for the last 12 years. He has chosen not to seek re-election. His term is set to end this fall. More...
July 8, 2014
Burke County, GA
Commissioners say ‘no’ to business licenses
Business owners in the unincorporated areas of Burke County won’t have to pay an “occupational tax” after all. County commissioners voted last Tuesday to repeal an ordinance which would have gone into effect July 1. An occupational tax is basically a business license with fees based on the number of employees. Citing the cost of implementing and enforcing the tax, as well as the additional burden it would place on businesses, the panel voted 3-2 to repeal the ordinance which was originally passed in September of last year. Chairman Wayne Crockett questioned planning officials’ estimate of as many as 600 businesses which would pay the new fees. He said he believed the number would be much lower and the cost of enforcement would be higher than anticipated. Commissioners Terri Lodge Kelly and Lucious Abrams argued that the tax program would provide valuable information about the location of businesses across the county and be helpful in implementing a county zoning plan. Planning commission chairman Leon Bynes had expressed his strong support for the tax at a commission work session on June 4. At that time Bynes said there were a number of unknown and unregulated businesses throughout the county and that the implementation of the tax and the information it would produce would be vital in future planning for the county. Commissioners George DeLoach and Allen DeLaigle joined Crockett in voting to repeal the ordinance. More...
July 8, 2014
Bradenton Beach, FL
Complaint lodged against mayor: operating lodge without license
According to a recent complaint to the city, Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon and his partner Tjet Martin may be operating their vacation resort without all the needed licensing. Robert Lincoln, attorney representing ELRA Inc., Ed Chiles’ BeacHhouse Restaurant corporate entity, filed a complaint June 19 with the state regulatory agency — the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations — alleging Shearon and Martin have been operating Linger Longer, 302 Gulf Drive, without a state-mandated public lodging license. An ensuing investigation conducted by the DBPR-Division of Hotels and Restaurants revealed that Shearon was operating without a license and required Shearon to apply for his lodging license within 60 days. The case was rated “high priority” by the division. Shearon said he has since applied for the license. A lodging license may cost anywhere from $205 to $250, according to the DBPR and, if an establishment is not in compliance, the operators of the business could be fined. On June 20, Lincoln sent a letter of notification to the city. In the letter, Lincoln cites Florida Statutes and he highlighted a passage in his letter that states: “Operating a transient rental property without a state lodging license is a second-degree misdemeanor and state law provides for the immediate arrest of a violator.” Shearon said he has operated the business for 11 years and has always tried to do the right thing when it came to his taxes. “I just didn’t know,” he said. Code enforcement officer Gail Garneau filed a report in response to the complaint that showed Shearon and Martin are in the process of obtaining the required state lodging license. The couple reside at Linger Longer and rent out the remaining units to vacationers. Martin is running for the Ward 4 commission seat against incumbent Commissioner Jan Vosburgh. She also serves on the city’s scenic waves committee. Shearon said part of the problem was a change in state law, HB 883, which requires vacation rental operators to have state licensing in hand before they can receive a business tax receipt from the city. The city already is in the process of adding that requirement to the business tax application and renewal forms, Shearon said. Shearon said adding language to the forms requiring vacation rental businesses to provide a state license number before receiving a city business tax receipt will solve a lot of problems. “This was actually a blessing in disguise,” Shearon said. “There are a lot of people out there who are doing the same thing and we need to fix it on a city level.” More...
July 2, 2014
Kasich signs business compliance program into law
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has signed a bill into law that's designed to eliminate red tape from regulatory compliance without jeopardizing public safety. House Bill 486 creates the Ohio Business Compliance Incentive program, which will initially focus on rewarding consistently compliant hotels and contractors, and eventually expand into other businesses if those pilot projects are successful. The department issues more than 600,000 permits and licenses each year, and director Andre Porter says the new law will help maximize limited resources by allowing his staff to focus on businesses that consistently fail to meet state regulations. "We were treating the good actors exactly the same as those not-so-good actors, and that does not make sense," Porter said in an interview with the Enquirer. "This is just the right type of regulation, balancing promotion of safety with business growth and success." The department is starting the program with hotels, motels and contractors. The state fire marshal's office inspects roughly 1,600 hotels and motels in Ohio every year, more than 40 percent of which are fully compliant during their first inspection. The new program proposes designating businesses that meet the highest safety and sanitary standards as Safe Stay hotels. An Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association executive says the positive recognition is important for hotels, and will incentivize those businesses to push hard to achieve top compliance scores. The Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board will offer another incentive program that will allow contractors to renew their licenses every three years for $180 – instead of annually for $60 – if they are up to date with continuing education credits, have paid their renewal fees on time and have no merited complaints. "It does exactly what we should be doing in the state," Porter said. "We're looking at doing all the things that we can to recognize those businesses that have been compliant for long periods of time." More...
June 25, 2014
Minot, ND
Flood Recovery Business Fined
A business formed in Minot following the 2011 flood has been fined by the state for operating without the needed state permit. North Star Drywall and Construction was begun by a Tennessee contractor who had moved to the state planning to work in the oil patch. In a story on KX News in 2012, James Wilder said he decided to locate in Minot when he found out about the flood damage to thousands of homes. However, the Secretary of State reports that Wilder's contractor's license expired on March 3rd of this year and North Star Drywall was declared "not in good standing" with the state as of April. An official in the Secretary of State's office says a letter to the company was not responded to. Wilder says it was a clerical error that resulted in his license not being renewed. Parrell Grossman, the head of the state's consumer protection division in the Attorney General's office says North Star was fined one thousand dollars on Friday, with 250-dollars suspended, and Wilder paid a net fine of 750-dollars for performing work without the required license. As of today, North Star has NOT yet been granted a new contractor's license and cannot conduct business in North Dakota until a new license is issued. Grossman says he is seeing more cases of new businesses failing to renew their contractor licenses. And he says it's something his boss, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, has ordered to be watched closely. (Parrell Grossman, Consumer Protection Division) "We have to have a level playing field for our contractors. We need to make sure that all the contractors are licensed and they're all following the regulations, that they're paying Workforce Safety and Insurance premiums, Job Service ND premiums, that they're paying North Dakota sales tax, that's they're really following the same rules that all the out-of-state licensed contractors and the in-state licensed contractors are." Grossman says just since June First, the Consumer Protection Division has taken enforcement actions against nine contractors and levied fines of more than nine thousand dollars. In addition, the Attorney General has issued two "cease and desist" orders to ban contractors from doing business in the state. More...
June 25, 2014
Alabaster, AL
Alabaster license changes allow for mobile vendors
ALABASTER – Businesses without permanent structures will now be able to obtain business licenses in Alabaster after the City Council unanimously approved changes to the city’s licensing guidelines during a June 23 meeting. Through the changes, most small businesses will pay less than they currently do, and mobile businesses will now have an avenue to obtain licenses from the city. Alabaster’s previous business license does not provide a way for businesses without a permanent structure to obtain licenses. The changes also removed a $11,275 business license cap for businesses generating more than $15 million in revenue, which puts Alabaster “in alignment with other cities our size,” Councilman Tommy Ryals said during a June 23 pre-meeting work session. The rates for the about 20 Alabaster businesses generating more than $15 million in revenue will not change. During the pre-meeting work session, Ryals said the city may need to consider changes to its zoning ordinances to ensure they don’t conflict with the business license ordinance’s allowance of mobile vendors. “There is something in the zoning ordinance that says you must have a permanent structure,” Ryals said. City Council member Russell Bedsole said the business license changes will go into effect “as soon as legally possible.” More...
June 25, 2014
June 25, 2014
Sparks City, Nevada
Sparks City Council Approves Temporary Vendor Permits
SPARKS, NV - It's going to be a little easier for vendors to set up a booth during special events in Sparks. Monday, the Sparks City Council approved an ordinance creating a temporary vendor license. The new license will allow vendors to set up booths without having business licenses. The temporary license would only be in effect for a specific special event. These permits are designed to allow the city to efficiently and reasonably collect a fee from vendors. More...
June 23, 2014
Hair Braiders Challenge Cosmetology Licensing Laws in Lawsuit
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Some hair braiders in Missouri are challenging state cosmetology licensing laws. A lawsuit was filed early this week against the Missouri Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners. Current state cosmetology regulations require at least 1,500 hours of training and is void of African hair braiding. The natural hair style has been practiced for thousands of years and those opposed to current state licensing laws said it's very different from traditional cosmetology. For the Kaba family, braids are more than just a way to wear hair. "Before coming to America, braiding my hair was like a big deal, you know? It was like a celebration if i got my hair done," said Sayon Deckard, who styles her hair in braids. It can take up to 10 hours to braid a full head. Deckar's mother Mbalou Kaba offers her expertise to salons like The Braidery along Glenstone Ave. "In Africa, we starting braiding when we are young,' said Kaba. That's how the majority of stylists learn African hair braiding-- a skill handed down generation after generation. But current state cosmetology licensing laws create a challenge for African-style hair braiders. "They first have to obtain a cosmetology license which entails at least 1500 hours of cosmetology training," said Greg Reed, an attorney for the Institute for Justice. "The real problem with that is that cosmetology and cosmetology training has nothing to do with African-style hair braiding." African hair braiding is done void of chemicals. The only products being natural oils to help condition the hair. According to the Institute For Justice, training to get a license can cost anywhere between $10,000 to $20,000 dollars. Tameka Stigers owns Locs of Glory in St. Louis and is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. "No rational person would say, oh yeah, I'm going to go spend $15,000, $20,000 to get a piece of paper and they're not going to teach me anything I need to know," said Stigers. Reed said current law also prohibits entrepreneurship. "When you apply these sort of arbitrary, and irrelevant and onerous regulations and licensing laws to African-style hair style braiders, then you raise the cost of business and you raise the cost of entry into the market," he said. Deregulation is the hope of many braiders to keep a tradition alive. "Our craft and what we do is relevant now more than ever that we're able to have that freedom to provide a professional setting for women and children to go to to get their hair purposes," said Stigers. A representative from the Missouri Board of Cosmetology said they could not comment on pending litigation. Stigers said that in place of a cosmetology license, hair braiding businesses should be required to adhere to safety codes and standards through local business licenses. Missouri is joined by Arkansas and Washington in the coordinated legal campaign. In the past, the Institute For Justice has litigated eight cases regarding hair braiding and has been successful each time in changing braiding regulation. More...
June 20, 2014
Calabasas, CA
Calabasas businesses will no longer have to pay county license fee
officials have voted to rescind a little-known county business licensing fee that the city had forgotten about. The annual savings to local businesses will be about $21,000 a year. At a meeting June 11, City Council members said they were surprised to learn that businesses in the city were paying for a license issued by the county. Former Councilmember Dennis Washburn said he had no idea the fee had been collected from certain businesses for the past 23 years. It was never the city’s intention to charge for a business license, he said, urging officials to revoke the county requirement. An oversight When Calabasas was founded in 1991, the city adopted the L.A. County codes, which specified a license fee requirement for some businesses, including gas stations, valet and cab services, food processing facilities, gun dealers, places where people gather such as dance halls, and companies serving children such as private schools. While the city has made many amendments to the codes over the past 20 years, the requirement for Calabasas companies to obtain a Los Angeles County business license remained, a city report said. “This section somehow got overlooked. Because we do not administer the requirement and received no complaints, it slipped from view,” said Maureen Tamuri, community development director for Calabasas. A recent review by city staff ssaid the city does not receive any notable benefits by participating in the county business license program, Tamuri said. In Calabasas, the assessor’s office has identified 92 businesses that have been issued licenses. The business licenses are separate from a requirement to obtain a public health permit, which is required in Calabasas for some businesses. The purpose of the county license is mostly for public health, safety and nuisance issues, and to generate revenue for the city and county, Tamuri said. “Annually your businesses pay over $21,000 for these licenses. The initial fee can be up to five times higher than the renewal fee,” she told the council. In many cases, businesses have to obtain multiple licenses and permits to operate. The county business licenses must be renewed annually. “The value to the city is really unclear. We’re not getting very much from this” Tamuri said. Out of a total of 57 cities that contract with the county for support services, Calabasas is one of four that participate under the county’s business license provision. The others are Westlake Village, Malibu and Santa Clarita. Agoura Hills recently rescinded its connection to the county business license, replacing it with an internally administered program that requires all businesses in the city to register and obtain a license. Effective late September, businesses in Calabasas will no longer be required to have a Los Angeles County-issued business license. “It’s clear that we should repeal this ordinance,” Councilmember Fred Gaines said. Council members all said they were unaware of the county license requirement until recently. “It’s a complete waste. It slipped under the radar,” Councilmember James Bozajian said. Only apartment complex operators and businesses that sell tobacco are required to register with the city. That program is free. The city requirement for a public health license will remain. Later this summer, officials will consider whether they should establish a local registration program for all businesses. That program would involve an administrative fee estimated at $20 or less. It would not be a regulatory program. More...
May 29, 2014
Woodinville, WA
The City Council approved a business license program last week, passing first reading of an ordinance that establishes the program, with the fees to be set at a later meeting. The licensing program, which will begin in early 2015, is intended to be regulatory, not revenue-producing, City Finance Director Jim Katica explained. The license fee is expected to cover the costs of administering the program, and the fee will be the same for all businesses, despite discussion of a graduated fee for smaller businesses. “The idea was that a $50 fee would be affordable by anybody doing business in the city of Woodinville,” Katica said. “It was low enough that to exempt that might not make a lot of sense.” The council hasn’t yet voted on the amount of the fee, but the city is proposing a $39 fee per year, with an $11 renewal fee for a total of $50 per year for a business’s second year and after. The $11 renewal fee goes to the state Department of Revenue, which will administer and help enforce the program. “I think maybe our strongest leverage is that the state of Washington won’t issue their master license until the city has agreed that the materials provided that we need to the business license are adequate,” Katica said. “…So to do business with the state or with the city, a license would be required.” City Attorney Greg Rubstello added that businesses may help with enforcement by reporting other businesses. “People who are paying the license in a particular field, if they see people coming in town or doing work, they’ll look to see whether they’re licensed or not and let you know,” Rubstello said. “…There’s often a bit of self-policing among peers.” The council began reviewing the city’s current business registration program in December 2012, opting in September 2013 for a simple fee that would cover the costs of administering the program, Katica said. Nonprofit organizations will be exempt from the $39 fee, but will still have to pay the $11 renewal fee. “Casual or isolated sales,” such as garage sales, also don’t require business licenses. Children under 18 aren’t required to have a business license as long as they aren’t employing any other person, according to Ordinance 587. People or businesses who are not based in Woodinville but do work here, such as contractors, will still have to pay the full fee. The council will vote on Resolution 449, which will establish the amount of the fee, at its next meeting on June 3. More...
May 27, 2014
Las Vegas, NV
A proposal to raise artist business license fees by 30 percent in the City of Las Vegas has artists, particularly those in the Downtown area, feeling slighted, even bruised, given the city’s waiving of $50,000 licensing fees for alcohol-related establishments in the area. Despite the neighborhood being officially designated as the Arts District by the city, there have been few to no incentives for artists or gallery operators. The proposed fee increases for visual artists are part of the city’s proposed Title 6 amendments of the Las Vegas Municipal Code, which includes licensing fees for an assortment of businesses, including adult day care facilities, car washes, valet parking, bail agents, consulting services and home care providers. If approved, the artist license fee of $150 will increase to $200. A $50 increase might not seem excessive, but artists and arts advocates say it sends the wrong message to those who helped establish the area as an Arts District. "It’s more symbolic that the city will waive $50,000 licenses for alcohol-related businesses that are extremely profitable in an Arts District, while at the same time raising fees 30 percent on the original economic generators," says Melissa Petersen, a Las Vegas native and longtime arts advocate. "You can’t have an Arts District without artists." Petersen launched a Facebook page—“No 30% Fee Increase for Visual Artist Licenses”—to encourage artists to send public comment on Title 6's proposed increase to licenses for visual artists, the listed business category for artists. "The City has waived the Urban Lounge and reduced the Limited Tavern fees in the 18b Arts District to encourage business development," it reads. "There is no Arts District without Artists. Increasing fees 30% is not supportive of the people who helped make the area attractive to Urban Lounges and Limited Taverns." Wendy Kveck who runs a studio in Arts District, says a lack of incentives for artists, along with high rents in the area, discourage artists from working in the Arts District or elsewhere Downtown, thus discouraging the real growth and sustainability of an actual Arts District. Longtime supporters of the Arts District have publicly criticized the arrival of new investors wanting to open bars in the area, saying it will result in higher rents and threatens the art element of the Arts District. Some artists and business owners have been asked to vacate spaces they'd been renting because new owners want to develop restaurants and bars in the area. Welthy Silva, owner of the Las Vegas Ballet School at 1039 S. Main St., said that she was asked to vacate her rental space in November by the building’s new owners. She says they told her of plans to open a bar and restaurant on the parcel, which was also home to Sharon Gainsburg’s stone sculpture studios. Gainsburg has since moved her studio to 1533 W. Oakey Blvd. Kveck says that in the early days of Downtown revitalization, it was the artists and gallerists taking risks in what were blighted areas, encouraging development. "While much of the new development Downtown is exciting and welcome, we are seeing an increase in Downtown bars as gallerists struggle to keep afloat and studio spaces/potential studio spaces remain vacant in the Arts District,” she says. "A renewed commitment to and support of the arts in the "Arts District is vital to its success, diversity and longevity,” she adds. The proposed amendments are scheduled to go before council in early June. More...
May 19, 2014
Rocklin, CA
Rocklin reduces business license fee
Rocklin, CA - capped its maximum business license fee at $125, which could be a big savings for some businesses. High value retailers such as car dealers, supermarkets, furniture stores will see a big drop in annual fees. The city of Rocklin took the action to lower fees this week. Prior to 2012, Rocklin had no cap on business license fees, which were based on annual revenue. In 2012, the city instituted an annual cap of $100,000. Last year, it capped the maxim payment at $3,000. The new $125 cap goes into effect June 27, pending the city council’s second reading of the ordinance. The city phased in cuts to the taxes so the city could adjust its budget to the loss of revenue. Rocklin made the tax move so business owners can invest those dollars in to their operations. “Our business community raised concerns that our business license tax put Rocklin at a disadvantage and we listened,” said Rocklin Mayor Scott Yuill said in a news releases. Though the lower tax rate will hit the city budget, he said, “in the long run, this would be offset by additional revenue generated through the attraction of more and larger businesses.” During the depths of the financial crisis in 2010, the city of Sacramento considered raising its business license fees. But after a backlash from businesses, Sacramento dropped the higher tax idea-- the business license fee is now capped at $146. The city of West Sacramento has an annual $77 business license fee. The city of Roseville has a graduated business license fee, starting at $15 and with the highest rate set at $250 a year for businesses with revenue over $1 million. Mark Anderson covers technology, banking and finance, medtech and biotech, venture capital, energy, mining, hotels, restaurants and tourism for the Sacramento Business Journal. More...
May 12, 2014
Customer Disservice - city business license coordinator - Do You Hate Your Job That Much?
Recently I paid a visit to my local city hall to apply for a local business license. Like most government buildings, the place had a musty, old feeling to it, like an old 1950's post office. And, like the building, the government workers inside were as musty as the building itself. As I asked for details about the business forms (what to fill out, where to send them, etc), the lady behind the counter -- typical, office worker type woman, with horned-rimmed glasses and a wad of chewing gum in her mouth -- pointed me to a bin of blank business license applications, and snidely tossed a remark at me. "Don't come back until after you've filled one of those out completely" she blurted as she walked away, sat down at her desk, and got back to her Yahoo surfing session. Supposedly this woman was a "city business license coordinator", but to me she was just worthless. It was clear to me that this person had probably been with the city for years and years, and just didn't give a damn about her job. Maybe it was due to office politics, maybe it was indifference, but in any case, it left me with a negative impression of herself and the city. She just blended in with the rest of the red tape and bureaucracy, and really couldn't care less about it. Sure, the job market isn't exactly teeming with openings, and the economy makes finding a job difficult. But how many of you show up to work each day, and don't care about what you're doing or how you treat people? Do you hate your job so much, that you would treat people around or below you with disrespect or indifference? Do you just not give a damn? In my "quest" to get people to wake up and leverage their skills to improve their job outlook, I try to get folks to not become complacent about their careers. So it irks me to no end how many people stick with the same crappy, go-nowhere job, just to find a sense of stability. As much as I admire people who are cheerful after 20 years working at Trader Joe's, it irritates me when other people who have spent 20 years at a government job treat people like trash just because they hate what they do for a living. Give yourself and everyone else in the world a break, and find a new line of work -- please. The world has enough tasks and challenges, without people actively making things more difficult. As human beings, we are inherently driven to make things better for ourselves (though sometimes those efforts go awry -- think of greenhouse gasses and radioactive waste). But the sense that we should improve life should extend into our careers. Just because jobs are associated with money doesn't mean that we toss aside our sense of good will because "we're getting paid". I suppose this speaks to the larger issue of business negating morality -- like a city taking away it's community soccer field to build a billion dollar stadium. But I digress. Can you take the time and effort to treat people the way you'd like to be treated at work? To put "professionalism" back into your profession? To not communicate your hatred of your job to the people you interact with? To put aside politics and just do what's good for others? As much as it is harder to be nice than to be honest, take the time to find out what you dislike about your job. Spend effort to try and improve your job, instead of shoveling your problems onto others. At the end of the day, a job is just a job... and I'm still here trying to fill out this damn form. ... thanks coordinator lady, for all of your help. More...
May 9, 2014
May 9, 2014
Santa Cruz County officials cite motorcycle shop for lacking license
Santa Cruz motorcycle shop has been cited for operating without a proper license.  Members of the Santa Cruz Auto-Theft Reduction Enforcement and the Department of Motor Vehicles Investigation Unit performed a routine business inspection at Cycle Imagery on Soquel Avenue Tuesday. Inspectors determined the business wasn't licenses by the Department of Motor Vehicles for the sale of motor vehicles. Joseph Del Negro, the business owner, was cited for operating as a vehicle dealer without being properly licensed. More...
May 9, 2014
Columbia, SC
Business Service Center Tackles License Violators
Columbia, SC - A Richland County resident reached out to the News19 On Your Side team after the company she hired to cut down a tree revealed they did the work without a license to operate a business in Richland County. Mary C. Janes made a common mistake and didn't ask about the license before the company started working in her yard. Richland County Deputies confronted P&C Tree Service, who admitted they were not operating with a license. "He came clean with me, 'man we don't have a license,'" said Odell Glenn, a senior investigator with the Richland County Sheriff's Department. Odell did not press charges against the business, telling us the county's business services center does that. "That's to be determined by the business organization here because operating without a business license is really the counties business office area," Glenn said. "When we get a call or complaint from a business, we look at it from a criminality point, and if our citizens have been scammed, then of course it's up to us to bring charges." The Richland County Business Service Center say are the primary agency that works with business not operating in compliance with county ordinances. They say they first contact the business by phone, letter, or in person to try and bring the business into compliance, which requires them to have a business license. If there's no progress, they can order a Summons to Magistrate Court, which takes the issue before a judge. The county ordinance also allows for the Sheriff's Department, Planning Department, Building Inspections, and Fire Marshall to send an unlicensed business to court. The ordinance allows for a maximum fine of $1092.50 or 30 days behind bars. While the Sheriff's Office chose not to issue a summons in this case, they say they get involved when a incident report is filed and a criminal case is determined. Consumer experts say to avoid a crooked business, ask about a business licensed BEFORE any work is completed or money exchanged. More...
May 5, 2014
Anniston, AL
Anniston cracking down on unpaid business licenses
It's a bit like finding money behind the couch cushions. The city of Anniston has examined its business license system for nearly three months and found money it didn't realize it was owed — a lot of money, potentially $300,000 in unpaid business licenses so far. City officials say the examination will bring all businesses into compliance with the law while possibly helping the city straighten out its antiquated database. It could also lead to changes in the city's fee structure, ensuring all businesses are paying the right amount for their licenses, officials say. City Manager Brian Johnson said the city hired the Public Resource Management Alliance Corporation in Atlanta about three months ago to help track down unpaid business license fees. The corporation, which specializes in helping cities and counties obtain more money through existing revenue sources, will receive a percentage of all the money it finds for the city as a fee, Johnson said. "Ultimately what we're doing is we're auditing our business licenses," Johnson said. According to the Anniston finance department, business licenses are paid annually at either flat rates or based on a percentage of gross receipts. Flat rates can range from $15 to $1,000, while gross-receipt-based licenses can cost as little as $50 or as much as $1,000. Johnson said the audit includes examining the city's computer business license database at City Hall and comparing that to property records to see if they match. Also, auditors are physically checking every business in the city to see if they have licenses, he said. Johnson said the company has so far found $300,000 in unpaid fees, however, that figure could change as the city continues its examination. "We may learn that an owner might have paid their fee under a different name or they might have late fees that we decide to waive," Johnson said. "We may end up getting a quarter or a third of that early figure, but I think it's safe to say we can ultimately uncover six figures of unpaid business licenses." Johnson said he expects the audit to continue for another two or three months. He said there are several reasons the city is discovering significant amounts of unpaid license fees. "Sometimes its an oversight by the city, sometimes its an oversight by the business not getting a license and sometimes a business opens and the city doesn't know," Johnson said. "Also, some businesses purposely try to avoid paying, some have paid the wrong municipality and some have been involved in mergers or been sold and have gotten lost in the cracks." Tammy Katz, owner of Still Mid-Town Ceramics in Anniston, said she has not been contacted by the city in recent months about her license, but always makes sure to pay it on time. Katz said the process for her is not complicated. "They just send it to us in the mail and we pay it," Katz said. Katz, who has been in business for 10 years, has moved once and still kept up with her license payments, notifying the city of the change. "It goes back to the responsibility of the business owner," Katz said. "I always have a theory that it's better to ask permission from the city than to ask for forgiveness ... I've found that works best." Nancy Dennis, spokeswoman for the Alabama Retail Association, said Anniston is not unusual in having issues keeping up with its business licenses. "Yes, some cities do a better job than other cities do in keeping up with business licenses and who has paid them," Dennis said. Dennis said dealing with business licenses, especially for businesses that extend into multiple jurisdictions, can be complicated. She said her organization has been working with the state Legislature the last few years to simplify the state and county business license systems. "Right now there are more than 140 existing different state and county business licenses," Dennis said. "We're looking at having businesses just buying one state-wide business license." Dennis said, however, that there has been little headway made so far in simplifying city business licenses. "Cities haven't been able to agree on rates ... business licenses are a revenue stream for cities," Dennis said. Johnson said once the city receives a final audit report in a few months, some changes might be made to improve the business license system, including upgrading the license database. "Our database is old and our rate structure has not been looked at in a long time either," Johnson said. "We'd like to take a look at our rate structure — we don't want to be the city with the highest rates but we don't want to be the one with the lowest rate either — but at this point, the city is not looking to change anything." Patrick Wigley, owner of Wig's Wheels in Anniston, said he makes a point to stay current on his business license payments. "They send a card in the mail and it's up to you to pay by a certain day," Wigley said. "I think it's our responsibility as business owners." Wigley said the process of paying license fees is not hard, but it’s not exactly easy, either. "I'd rather not pay it, but because I have to, I do," Wigley said with a laugh. "I'm not one that bucks the system." More...
April 14, 2014
Bars and liquor stores benefit from Colorado's newest law
Colorado's bars, restaurants and liquor store owners are likely to face larger fines — but less likely to face lengthy suspensions of their alcohol-sales licenses — under a bill signed into law Friday by Gov. John Hickenlooper. Senate Bill 54, sponsored by Sen. David Balmer, R-Centennial, gives more independence to local licensing authorities to assess monetary penalties for violations of state liquor law rather than to enact some of the suspensions they must now impose. The bill passed without receiving a “no” vote in the House or Senate. Supporters, including the Colorado Restaurant Association and the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association, portrayed the measure as a win-win for the governments and for local businesses. Bars and liquor stores will not have to suffer the financial blow of a two-week shutdown for relatively minor violations, while cities can fine them at higher levels and still collect sales taxes they otherwise would not get. “The fine is designed to take the profit out of the days the establishments are open,” said John Stonbraker — an attorney with Dill Dill Carr Stonbraker & Hutchings PC, a Denver law firm that represents taverns and liquor stores — while testifying for SB 54. “So, in my view, the fines are a more appropriate punishment. When we serve long suspensions, not only is the business hurt but the local government is hurt.” More...
April 10, 2014
Madison, WI
City Council approves alcohol licensing changes for downtown
Madison, WI -Changes to the City’s alcohol ordinances approved by City Council Tuesday night will allow for more businesses that wish to serve alcohol to open in the downtown area. To make city alcohol licensing laws more open to creative business endeavors, the city approved changes to its alcohol zoning code, creating new definitions for establishments that indent on selling alcohol including taverns, restaurants, nightclubs, theaters and venues that fall in multiple categories. Central Business Improvement District spokesperson Mary Carbine said she and the district approve of the new definitions for alcohol licensing. The changes allow certain types of new establishments to open in areas where they previously could not, including busy spots downtown. “Although it is a little more complicated, it is more refined and flexible,” Carbine said. “It allows policy makers to create innovative business models that we would like to see downtown and create a vibrant downtown destination for people to gather as well as shop.” Carbine said the number of retail and service-oriented businesses in Madison’s central district have dramatically increased. However, food and drink establishments have only increased by 1 percent since 1998, she said. She said she hopes to see more businesses opening up in the area that incorporate food and drink into their affairs with these new changes. Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said the Alcohol License Review Committee is looking for ways to sustain a mix of businesses within the downtown area while places serving alcohol are opening up. “I wish there were easy solutions to encourage a healthy retail mix downtown and loss of retail to alcohol establishments is a large part to the belief that alcohol license establishments attract higher rent,” Verveer said. Verveer said this was never an intention with the new changes, and he said he hopes the people who work downtown do what they can to ensure a thriving retail industry in the greater State Street area. Mansion Hill District Also on Tuesday night, City Council voted to uphold the Landmarks Commission proposal for the historic Mansion Hill District. After numerous speeches from registered citizens, plenty of questions from the City Council and hours of discussion between council members, a Landmarks Commission proposal denying Steve Brown Apartments permission to redevelop buildings in the Mansion Hill Historic District in the 100 block of West Gilman Street will now go into effect. Steve Brown Apartments proposed destroying several buildings in the historic district to replace them with three, five-story buildings. Although these buildings would be structurally larger than the current structures, they would have 122 less beds than what is now available. Landmarks Commission Chairman Stuart Levitan said there is no need to destroy and renovate the buildings in the Mansion Hill district. “123 West Gilman has been of cultural and social significance. It is not deteriorated. There is no special condition pertaining to this property other than that it is where Steve Brown wants to build more property,” Levitan said. “This is the same for the Highlander.” Steve Brown Apartments Community Manager Dan Seeley said the renovations would not lessen the meaningfulness of the historic district. He added that 127 W. Gilman St. is a non-salvageable building in the historic neighborhood and the Highlander is not considered historic property. Members from the Steve Brown Apartments team said if the city did not pass the proposal, there will be two empty, unusable lots in the historic district which will lead to hardships for their company as well as the city. However, the City Council did not see how denying this proposal would pose hardships for Madison and decided to uphold the Landmarks Commission early Wednesday morning. More...
April 10, 2014
Raleigh, NC
Proposal to cap privilege license tax could cost Raleigh $6 million
RALEIGH, NC — A legislative study committee has given its OK to draft legislation that would cap at $100 annually the privilege license taxes that some cities and towns apply to businesses. The approval of the draft bill, however, doesn’t mean that members of the Revenue Laws Study Committee will be on board with the proposal when it comes before the legislature later this spring. Some committee members argued Wednesday that lawmakers should completely ban municipalities from levying a privilege tax; others said the proposal will rob cities and towns of needed revenue. The legislation would force some larger cities that now apply a gross receipts tax to some businesses to replace that tax with a flat fee of no more than $100. It also would allow the tax to be applied to a larger range of businesses. Right now, cities cannot apply the tax to banks, medical practices and law firms. Other types of businesses, including auto dealers and building contractors, enjoy existing caps of less than $100. Sen. Bob Rucho, a Republican from Matthews, said the aim of the proposed legislation is to have cities and towns treat businesses the same. The change, though, would mean a revenue hit of millions of dollars for a few cities. Legislative staff estimates that the cap would cost cities and towns, combined, about $24 million. Raleigh could lose $6 million, by one estimate, while Charlotte could lose $14 million. “We’ll either have to reduce expenses or raise fees to compensate for the loss effective next fiscal year (July 1, 2015),” said Raleigh City Manager Ruffin Hall. Revenue from the privilege tax goes to the city’s general fund. Some committee members said even those numbers may understate the losses, noting that the projections assume city officials can track down and apply the tax to all the businesses that currently are not taxed. “Right now, cities are going to be suffering this lost income and are going to get nothing in return,” said Democratic Sen. Floyd McKissick of Durham. McKissick and a handful of other committee members said legislation should include a means to keep cities from losing revenue. Paul Meyer, executive director of the N.C. League of Municipalities, said hoping that legislators find other revenue sources for cities in future tax legislation, while moving ahead with the current draft bill, was “not a safe position” for those cities. The change would not take effect until July 1, 2015. Some members showed little sympathy for the cities. Republican Rep. Bill Brawley of Matthews said that cities had abused their taxing authority, and he even questioned whether a gross receipts-type franchise tax is legal. He argued that any “hold-harmless” provision for cities should only involve keeping them from being sued for “past bad deeds.” Rep. Tim Moffitt, an Asheville Republican, said inconsistencies in how the tax has been applied called for a complete repeal. The proposal would also repeal county authority to levy privilege taxes. Current law restricts counties to levying the tax on only a few types of businesses. According to legislative staff, only 37 counties now levy the tax, bringing in about $500,000 a year. Municipalities currently raise about $63 million annually from the tax. More...
April 10, 2014
Dracut, MA
Dracut increasing business fees
DRACUT, MA - The Town of Dracut is raising the licensing fees charged annually to local businesses for the first time in more than a decade. Acting on the recommendation of Town Counsel Jim Hall, who advised that Dracut's relatively low licensing fees were overdue for an increase, selectmen voted 3-1 to approve a list of new fees that were researched and submitted by interim Town Manager Ann Vandal. Selectmen Chairwoman Cathy Richardson cast the sole vote opposing the fee increases, with Selectmen Tony Archinski, Joe DiRocco and John Zimini voting in favor. Selectman Bob Cox, who is being directly impacted by a $500 fee increase as the owner of Coyle's Tavern, abstained from the vote. The newly approved fees, payable by Dec. 31, include: $500 more for a bar owner's license, which increases from $1,000 to $1,500; $200 more for liquor store licenses, which climb from $1,000 to $1,200; $200 more for a club owner's alcohol license, which goes from $800 to $1,000, and eating establishments serving beer and wine only will be charged $200 more, seeing their fee climb from $400 to $600. Restaurants, bars, clubs or package stores having coin-operated juke boxes and pool tables will be charged an extra $5 per year, or $25 for each, according to the board's vote. Also, the business-licensing fee charged to used-car dealers in Dracut was doubled from $50 to $100 annually. "Hopefully we've kept them low enough so that we're not going to hurt people too much," DiRocco said before the vote. The good news in this for the owners restaurants, bars, clubs, hotels, package stores and used car dealers in Dracut, Vandal noted, is that even with the increases factored in, they will still be paying significantly lower annual licensing fees compared to similar businesses in surrounding towns. On a spreadsheet listing the annual licensing fees charged by a dozen neighboring municipalities in greater Lowell that Vandal supplied to the board, Andover, North Andover, and Burlington were shown to charge their bar owners at least double Dracut's $1,500 fee, or $4,500, $3,000, and $3,000, respectively. Lowell charges an annual bar-licensing fee of $2,750. The nearest lowest fee charged to bar owners outside of Dracut is $2,025 in Methuen, and $2,200 in Lawrence, according to Vandal's research. Billerica, Chelmsford, Tewksbury, Tyngsboro and Westford each charge their bar owners $2,500 annually, or $1,000 more than Dracut. Having reviewed the spreadsheet comparison prior to the board's vote, Zimini declared Dracut's fee increases "long overdue." "I hope that, as the economy gets better, future boards will review this again," Zimini said. "It's a good start. It seems more than fair to me because looking at many of these neighboring towns, we're very low compared to what they are at." Zimini specifically cited the "common victualler's" annual licensing fee. Despite its being raised by a multiple of five, from $5 to $25 in Dracut, making it the largest percentage hike on the revised fee list, Zimini pointed out that it remains only one-third of the $75 fees charged to common victuallers in Lowell and Tyngsboro, and a quarter of the $100 fee charged to similar businesses in Chelmsford, Lawrence and North Andover. Richardson said she voted no because she objected to the various fees increased being lumped together and voted on all at once, rather than being discussed and voted on separately. "I have an issue with doing it as a group, and with comparing ourselves to other communities, maybe too much," said Richardson. "Because we are not them." Tallying up the licensing fee increases that will impact her Dracut business, the owner of the Sports Zone, Georgia Mousis, calculated that at year's end she will owe the town $500 more for her sports bar's liquor license fee; $20 more as a common victualler; and $5 more for each of two pool tables and air hockey game, or a $540 increase, bringing her revised annual fee total to $1,820, she estimated. Considering these are the first town licensing fee hikes in 11 years that she's owned the business, however, Mousis said she was not about to complain. "Go Bruins!" Mousis said. More...
April 2, 2014
New York, NY
MetLife To Pay $60M Fine for Licensing Violations
MetLife (MET) has agreed to pay $60 million in fines to settle charges the insurance giant’s subsidiaries sought business in New York without the proper licensing and then misled investigators looking into the charges. The subsidiaries, ALICO and DelAm, were acquired from American International Group (AIG) in 2010. Investigations by the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office revealed that those subsidiaries solicited insurance business in New York without a license and made “intentional misrepresentations and omissions” during an investigation. MetLife will pay $50 million to DFS and $10 million to the Manhattan DA’s Office. MetLife has also agreed to fully cooperate with DFS’s ongoing investigation into AIG, ALICO, and DelAm related to conduct prior to MetLife’s acquisition. DFS Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky said in a statement: “Our department will continue to aggressively investigate and pursue wrongdoing within this industry wherever we uncover it. MetLife did the right thing by stepping up to resolve this matter.” MetLife said in a statement: “With these agreements we have resolved the New York licensing matter and look forward to continuing to provide our multinational clients with solutions for their growing global employee benefits needs.” The statement added, “The agreement with DFS makes clear that our Global Employee Benefits business can continue to have meetings and discussions in New York with our multinational clients and prospects about the capabilities of MetLife’s non-U.S. affiliates and partners.” MetLife’s shares were up 39 cents, or 0.74%, at $52.95 in afternoon trading. More...
April 1, 2014
Boston, MA
Mass. slots operator makes $25M license payment
Boston, MA — The state's decision to welcome casino gambling to Massachusetts is beginning to pay off. On Friday, Penn National Gaming announced it has submitted an electronic payment of $25 million to the state for the Plainridge Park Casino gambling license. It's the first casino license fee received by the state since passage of the 2011 law legalizing casino gambling in Massachusetts. Penn National was awarded the state's only slots parlor license last month by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The facility can install up to 1,250 slot machines, but cannot offer table games such as blackjack. The company has already broken ground on the facility. Penn National says it's also entered into cross-marketing agreements with nearly 50 businesses to help them benefit from the project. The company says the slots parlor will create 500 new, permanent jobs. More...
March 27, 2014
Stanford, KY
Lincoln County Business License Fee Proposed
Stanford, KY — Lincoln County businesses would pay an annual fee for licenses to operate under a proposal from Occupational Tax Administrator Amy Thompson. Thompson has proposed an annual fee of $15, $20 or $25 for each business that files an application with the occupational-tax office. With about 2,100 currently active businesses on file, that could generate $31,500-$52,500 annually for Lincoln County government. Thompson said she would like to use part of that revenue to pay for new accounting software for the occupational-tax office. The new software, FiscalSoft, would allow for better tracking of businesses and deeper analysis of financial data, she said. The current software used in the office is about eight years old and no longer supported by the company that made it. Thompson said the software doesn’t allow her to track changes over time and she has many issues trying to make it work. The FiscalSoft software, which is used by 44 other counties in the state, would cost the county $4,000 annually, Thompson said. “A lot of times, departments come up with a want or a need but no way to pay for it,” she said. “This is a way to pay for the needs of the occupational-tax office as well as generating a little additional revenue for the county.” Lincoln County is different from many Kentucky counties because it doesn’t currently charge a business-license fee. Thompson said every county around Lincoln that has an occupational tax office — Casey County is the only one that doesn’t — also charges a business-license fee. Statewide, cities and counties charge anywhere from $10 to $150 annually for business-license fees, Thompson said. The average business-license fee in Kentucky is $50, she added. Thompson said paying an annual business-license fee is commonplace enough that she deals on a regular basis with people who come into her office expecting to pay a fee. Thompson said she initially suggested a $15 license fee to magistrates late last year. She brought her proposal back before the county fiscal court Tuesday, asking the court to consider implementing the fee for the coming fiscal year. Because there had been some talk of implementing a larger fee of $20 or even $25, she included data on possible revenue for those amounts as well, she said. Lincoln County collects a net profit tax from businesses that report operating at a profit. Thompson said only 40 percent of Lincoln County businesses reported a profit for the most recent year, meaning 60 percent of businesses paid nothing. Adding a business license fee would ensure the county brings in revenue regardless of whether businesses turn a profit, Thompson said. Businesses operating inside a city would have to pay business-license fees to the county and the city, Thompson said. Stanford currently charges $50 for its annual business-license fee. Crab Orchard charges $35; Hustonville charges $25. Magistrates took no action on a business-license fee Tuesday but voted to give Thompson authority to move forward with plans for the new accounting software. Judge-Executive Jim Adams said Thompson could return for future fiscal-court meetings to update magistrates on her progress. In other business, magistrates approved a recommendation for road improvements using rural secondary road funding. $293,941 in flex funds from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet are planned to be used for the following projects: • Resurfacing about 3.7 miles of Ky. 328, from milepost 1.47 to the intersection with Ike Singleton Road; and • Resurfacing about 3.2 miles of Ky. 1778, from its intersection with Ky. 698 to the South Fork Bridge. More...
March 26, 2014
Santa Fe, NM
Liquor licenses in New Mexico definitely top-shelf
SANTA FE, N.M. – Restaurant owner Raul Aboytez would love to serve margaritas at Jalapeño’s, the Mexican grill he and his wife, Janet, own just steps from the state Capitol. The high cost of a full liquor license in New Mexico makes it a financial impossibility. “I’m not very happy with the rules they have here for everything,” Aboytez said during a break between the lunch and dinner crowds. “I think a full liquor license is going for $400,000 right now.” Try close to a million bucks in some cases. Two retail liquor licenses for package sales went for $975,000 each in Rio Rancho last year. A dispenser license for the Guadalupe Café, just down the street from Aboytez, went for $600,000, according to state records. “It’s tough to get a full liquor license here,” Aboytez said. That’s because New Mexico apportions liquor licenses through a quota system. Just 1,411 licenses are available, based on a law established in the 1930s, after Prohibition, that limited licenses to one for every 2,000 people. In 1981, licenses to sell just beer and wine were added, but that hasn’t curbed the demand to sell booze. Some business owners who can’t afford to pay a few hundred thousand dollars to buy a license outright often go to brokers to lease an existing license. Aboytez said the going rate was $4,000 per month. By comparison, the costs for liquor licenses in neighboring states, such as Colorado and Texas, cost less than $2,500. Critics complain the high cost of licenses affects other businesses, as well. “It’s hurting entrepreneurship and it’s hurting the arts because you just can’t have performing arts without alcohol,” said Shannon Murphy, who helps run the After Hours Alliance, a group in Santa Fe that promotes nightlife events for artists and musicians. “It’s not the rule we made up, but it’s the rule we have to live by.” Paul Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation, a free-market think tank based in Albuquerque, says New Mexico’s quota system creates artificial scarcity. “It creates a cartel run by those who can afford to invest outrageous sums in liquor licenses,” he wrote on his website. “Current law, therefore, penalizes small businesspeople and their potential employees.” Talk of reforming the system has percolated for years, but the financial environment created by the quota system is an impediment. After all, what about the bar owners, retailers and restauranteurs who have already paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a full liquor license? It’s not fair to devalue existing licenses that have already appreciated, said J.R. Palermo, general manager at Tiny’s Restaurant and Lounge in Santa Fe, a longstanding nightclub. In 2013, state Sen. Ron Griggs, R-Alamogordo, introduced legislation aimed at overhauling the state’s Liquor Control Act. Among other items, the bill called for establishing a food service liquor license at $75,000 and a limited retailer’s license at $250,000. The plan died in committee. “There needs to be a means for mom-and-pop restaurants to be competitive,” Griggs told New Mexico Watchdog. “They can get a beer and wine license, but if someone wants margaritas or mixed drinks they’ll probably go to a Chili’s or an Applebee’s … they’re more likely to have deeper pockets.” A legislative task force was formed to look into practical solutions. The task force, which includes business owners, is led by the Regulation and Licensing Department. Aboytez has opted for a beer and wine license, which he says cost about $4,000 by the time he paid all the sundry fees. Aboytez said it took four months to approve the paperwork while his business barely hung on after opening last summer. “We almost went out of business because every single person who comes here, they want a beer or a glass of wine,” Aboytez said. Palermo says the problem goes beyond just the cost of liquor licenses. “I think the system in New Mexico is prohibitive. We’re overtaxed,” he said. “The way the system is, it’s hard to conduct business already. I’m getting killed on the GRT (gross receipts tax). I’m getting killed by the minimum wage in Santa Fe (one of the highest in the country at $10.65 an hour). I’m getting killed by the cost of insurance. And then there’s the excise tax for liquor and city licensing and state licensing. Those are five variables I have no control over. I feel I’m working for the government more than I’ve ever felt.” More...
March 26, 2014
Peoria, IL
Liquor License Changes in Peoria Puts Unruly Bars on Hot Seat
Peoria, IL - A change in Peoria liquor licenses may put some unruly bars on the hot seat The Peoria City Council approved these changes at Tuesday night's council meeting Any business with a liquor license will have to reappear in front of the liquor commission, if they receive constant nuisance complaints. Those range from unkept buildings to unruly patrons. Each business will then enter into an agreement the liquor commissioner, and if the business doesn't comply with that agreement, it could lose its license. The changes should help people living near those businesses that are causing constant problems. At-large Peoria Council Member Beth Akeson, who helped spearhead the change, said, "For people who live in these neighborhoods that are close to liquor establishments, they now have a way to say 'Hey. We're going to bring this to the city's attention'." This new model is based on a similar model used in Chicago. More...
March 24, 2014
New Danvers Square Eatery Gets Liquor License
MA - The Berry Tavern cleared a major hurdle and is one step closer to potentially opening in the fall. The Danvers Board of Selectmen approved the transfer of an all-alcohol license from Steven Tedesco to 2 High Street Tavern Inc., which owns the proposed restaurant that’s slated to open next to Orange Leaf Yogurt on High Street. Nancy McCann, who was representing the owners of The Berry Tavern before the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, said owners George Tsatsis and Joseph Bono operate Al Dente and Benevento’s in the North End. Tsatsis lives in Danvers and both men’s wives were raised in town, said McCann. The plan is for a “full-service family style restaurant” that would seat 78 people. The location, which has been vacant for years, is 2,400 square feet. The applicants also hope to open a small patio area of four or five tables adjacent to the eatery. They plan on having between six and 10 TVs in the restaurant as well as live entertainment with a maximum of five-piece bands. They expect to hire 25-30 employees with nine to 13 employees working on the largest shifts. The Berry Tavern plans to open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Sundays. The owners are talking with People’s United Bank in hopes of being able to use the bank’s parking lot during non-bank hours. The selectmen were pleased at the prospect of another eatery in Danvers Square. “I’m very happy Danvers Square is coming alive,” said Selectwoman Diane Langlais. “I think it’s a great thing.” One thing that board members did not like however was how the applicants obtained the all-alcohol license. They weren’t upset with the applicants, but the previous owner of the license, Tedesco, who reportedly bought the license for $40,000 and sold it for $125,000. Selectmen were concerned the man made a profit on the license. A representative for Tedesco said that the man spent $90,000 on fees associated with the license, including engineering, legal and town fees so he didn't make a profit. That claim was rejected by the selectmen. Selectmen Chairman Gardner Trask was especially displeased. The chairman said he had hoped that Tedesco came before the board again. Trask said Tedesco had been before the board multiple times before, including when he thought he had a buyer, Bonefish Grill, for the license. The chairman said he supports the applicants, but is fully against Tedesco making a profit from the license. The Board of Selectmen voted 4-0 with Trask abstaining to approve the license transfer and 5-0 for the entertainment license. The applicants still need to get board approval for any outside seating and they also need to go through the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission process. The restaurant would be named after a 19th and early 20th century tavern that was at the same location. Click here for more information about the old tavern and for a photo of how The Berry Tavern looked in the 19th century. More...
March 24, 2014
Solar business executive fined over license issues
The Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors has fined the owner of a local solar-panel leasing firm for operating illegally, a spokeswoman said Thursday. Jon Sader, the CEO of Sader Power Enterprises, was fined $8,000 for work on three solar installation jobs that he was not properly licensed to complete. The licensing board also prohibited Sader from signing new contracts until his firm is licensed; it recommended that he get that done within 60 days. Sader, who attended the licensing board’s compliance hearing Thursday in Baton Rouge, entered a plea of no contest, said the board’s spokeswoman, Kara Kearney. “Investigators have been onto Sader for a while now, and these (jobs) were the ones that they had contracts on,” she said. Sader’s company has gained local recognition since 2011 for television ads in which he stands on a roof talking about the benefits of leasing solar panels. More...
March 24, 2014
Demopolis, AL
Council mulls how to handle unpaid business licenses
Demopolis, AL - The numbers are better but 76 Demopolis businesses still haven’t bought a business license this year. For the second consecutive meeting, the Demopolis City Council discussed how to handle unpaid licenses. At the council’s last meeting two weeks ago, 113 licenses were past due. Mayor Mike Grayson said he has spoken with the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce and Demopolis Business Council and both organizations support the city’s effort to “get everybody on the same page and impose fair, equitable and consistent requirements.” “Everyone needs to have a business license,” Grayson said. While licenses are due Dec. 31, the city gives businesses a grace period until Jan. 31 to pay. Penalties and interest start accruing Feb. 1. However, once a business hits the maximum 30-percent penalty March 1, there is no additional incentive to pay up, Grayson said. “There is no closure … In essence, you can have someone ride the system as long as we will allow them to,” Grayson said. To handle this year’s stragglers, the council passed a motion giving businesses until March 31 to buy a license. On Tuesday, April 1, the city’s code enforcement officer will serve notice to those who haven’t paid, giving them three final days to get the license. Anybody that hasn’t paid by Friday, April 4 will be summoned to municipal court. Grayson also asked the council to consider in the coming weeks what deadlines and penalties would be appropriate for next year. In other business, the council took the following actions: •Gave Morgan Allen with the Demopolis Public Library permission to apply for a federal grant for iPads. The grant would require a $1,875, or 25 percent, local match. If awarded the grant, the library would buy 12 iPads, eight for the children’s library and four for adults to use. •Held a 15-minute executive session to discuss a financial matter. The council adjourned following the executive session. More...
March 24, 2014
Las Vegas, NV
City fee boosts save North Las Vegas business licensing jobs
North Las Vegas’ business licensing department has slipped the noose, assessing thousands of dollars in new license fees and promoting two employees as part of a shared-services committee-recommended agency overhaul. Shared-services committee members on Thursday decided against folding the five-member department into Las Vegas’ 30-staffer team, citing millions of dollars in cost savings expected to result from keeping the city’s business licensing function in-house. The decision preserves four full-time positions under the direction of North Las Vegas Community Development and Compliance Director Greg Blackburn, who spent an hour making the case for his department’s autonomy at a committee meeting earlier this month. Blackburn predicted a departmentwide face-lift — inspired by Las Vegas’ own recent code compliance “streamlining” — will generate a $1.8 million windfall for the city, with increases on existing fees and expanded field compliance efforts making up the lion’s share of additional departmental revenue. New council-approved license fees for banks and storage warehouses are expected to net the city about $400,000 above costs associated with hiring an auditor and promoting a pair of existing city licensing employees. A handful of shared-services committee members worried the department’s skeleton crew simply wouldn’t have the manpower to carry out an internal shakeup. A few asked whether, in the absence of a departmental merger, Las Vegas staffers had simply “wasted a lot of effort” teaching North Las Vegas employees how to better do their own jobs. Those concerns were echoed by Las Vegas officials, some of whom felt their municipal neighbors had suddenly come down with a bad case of cold feet. “We’ve found areas where there’s not much appetite to work together, which is tragic, but true,” Las Vegas City Manager Betsy Fretwell said. It remains to be seen whether two other money-troubled North Las Vegas agencies can also escape the gallows. The city’s economic development and redevelopment agencies faced an opening round of shared services committee scrutiny on Thursday. Department heads from both cities agreed that Las Vegas’ 20-member economic development team had a role in bolstering North Las Vegas’ money-troubled crew of new business cheerleaders. They quickly parted ways over what that role should be. Committee members, frustrated by officials’ inability to settle on a workable model for consolidating the two agencies, finally opted to table the issue until early next month. “This is the third or fourth time we’ve been through this and I still don’t know what we’re doing,” committee Chairman Glenn Christenson concluded. “It’s hard. … We want to be helpful, to both sides, but you’re not making it easy to do that.” Shared-services committee members plan to circle back to the topic at 3 p.m. April 3 at Las Vegas City Hall, 495 S. Main St. More...
March 23, 2014
House Democrats unveil business licensing bills
DE - A new package of legislation aims to level the playing field for businesses in the state. The measures include anonymous reporting of license violations and a crackdown on contractors operating without a license. State law requires those with professional services licenses to also have a business license. This new legislation closes a loophole in reporting requirements. If passed, the Division of Professional Regulation (DPR) would be required notify the Department of Finance of any person who practices a profession without a license and who DPR believes should have a business or occupational license. Rep. Dennis Williams points to 500 substantiated claims of individuals operating without a professional license from 2011 to 2013 in Delaware. "It can generate some additional revenue. For example, in the professional services area, if someone in the past just didn't have that license, there was no way to follow-up to make sure they were paying their taxes," said Williams. Critics argue the measures could drive business out of state, but sponsoring lawmaker Rep. Dennis Williams says these bills have support from the local business community. "If they're running a good business, they should go and get the appropriate licenses. I don't think that's going to drive them out of the state, but if they're here and knowingly violating all these various rules, you have to wonder what other rules they're violating as well whether it's safety, health, occupational," said Williams. If passed, contractors who are awarded public works contracts would also be required to get a business license within 30 days or face fines. Out-of-state contractors would also be required to get a business license to register a company vehicle in Delaware. More...
March 20, 2014
Grantville, GA
Grantville To Revisit Business License Plan
Grantville, GA - Grantville City Council will be revisiting how to calculate business licenses. For years, businesses paid a license fee based on the number of employees the firm had. The ordinance that took effect this year is based on income and requires a seven-page form be completed. Longtime businesswoman Barbara Tucker told the council the form is onerous and invasive. “I had to go the bank and my CPA,” she said. “I don’t think it’s anybody’s business what we make,” she added. Mayor Jim Sells sympathized with Tucker, and explained how the new process came to be. “We have to increase business fees from what we had in 2012. They were unreasonably low — but they don’t need to be unreasonably high either,” he said. The deadline for business license fees is Jan. 31. Those not paid on time carry a 10 percent fee and then 1 percent for each month. Councilman Johnny Cooks made a motion to waive late fees until March 31 to give the council time to rethink the business license process. “Why can’t we have an administrative committee meeting and discuss this in committee?” Councilman Barham Lundy, chairman of the committee, suggested. The committee — Lundy, Cooks and David Riley — agreed to meet at city hall on Monday at 4:30 p.m. “These business people need some help. They hurt us when they took our signs down,” Tucker said — referring to recent changes in the sign ordinance. More...
March 19, 2014
Summerville, SC
Town of Summerville prepares for summer audit, offers amnesty
SUMMERVILLE, SC - Right now, officials in the town of Summerville are preparing for a town-wide audit of local businesses. That’s never been done before. Right now the town officials are allowing businesses to get current, without paying hefty penalties during an amnesty period. They say over 130 businesses have come forward since the amnesty program began back in December. The finance director for the town of Summerville says you may be surprised that you need a business license, for instance if you have 3 or more rental properties, if you receive a 1099 and do business in the town of Summerville, she says you need a business license. Finance director Belinda Harper says if you already own a business, now is the time to review your business license fees. If you need a new business license, you can visit town hall. Harper says the funds from the business licenses go to the general fund, which goes towards public safety, recreation and town infrastructure. If your business license isn’t current once the audit starts this summer, penalties will be 5% per month until it’s paid off. But, during the amnesty period that lasts until April 30th, no penalties will be assessed. Belinda Harper, Finance Director for Summerville says, “All we are doing is looking at your current years business license gross receipts if for some reason there was an error that was made, then all you would owe is the business license fee and all penalties will be waived. There’s also not a 3 year look back and on top of that they won’t be selected for an audit for 5 years.” If you own a business in the town of Summerville and would like to take advantage of the amnesty period, you can call 843-851-4207 and make an appointment to review your business license. That program ends on April 30th and the audit will start sometime this summer. More...
March 12, 2014
Mount Pleasant, SC
Mount Pleasant OK's 4 tax and fee increases
MOUNT PLEASANT - SC- Town Council decided Tuesday that its residents and businesses should pay a little more in property taxes, stormwater utility fees, planning fees, building permit fees and business licenses to tackle a backlog of needed road and drainage work. Councilman Mark Smith said he didn't like voting to raise taxes well before the budget is presented, adding, "I just feel like we're getting ahead of ourselves." Mayor Linda Page said she has studied town spending closely since getting elected as a councilwoman four years ago and is satisfied the town needs the money. "Not only will I support this (property tax) increase, I think it's a little too late, and I wish it were a little more," she said. The tax increase would add $36 to the annual bill on a $300,000 home, while council also voted to double its stormwater utility fee from $30 to $60. And that's not all, council also gave initial approval to raising the cost of a town business license by $15 and then by 33 cents more for every $1,000 of a business' income. Also, developers and builders may pay more in planning fees and for building permits. The town would spend the money on new road projects, such as the Sweetgrass Basket Parkway and Long Point Road's extension and realignment. It also would spend it on pavement management in neighborhoods like Mallard Lakes and Park West and drainage projects in Wakendaw Lakes and neighborhoods off Whipple Road. Those voting for the property tax increase included Page and council members Elton Carrier, Paul Gawyrch, Chris Nickels, Chris O'Neal, Thomasena Stokes-Marshall. Council members Smith, Ken Glasson and Gary Santos voted no. Smith also cast the sole vote against raising business license rates and planning and building permit fees, but he was joined by Gawyrch, Santos and Glasson in opposing the $30 stormwater fee increase, which passed 5-4. The town hasn't raised its property tax rate in about two decades, but council members have been grappling with how to close a funding gap that threatens to limit the town's ability to maintain its roads and drainage system - and to provide other services, too. Earlier this year, town staff reviewed its capital project list and focused on $5.8 million in projects that are considered top priorities but are not funded. At the time, Administrator Eric DeMoura said, "We have aging infrastructure that is starting to break down. That's the primary issue." Even with the increase, property taxes are lower here than in Charleston or North Charleston. The owner of a $300,000 home would pay about $1,082 here ($373 to the town), while the same valued home in Charleston is charged $1,466 ($757 to the city). In North Charleston, it's $1,624.20 ($915 to the city). While the tax and fee increases will hit the pocketbook of nearly all town residents, only one person spoke up during a public hearing on the stormwater and business license fees. George Freeman, who recently ran for mayor, said even though town officials have bragged about not raising property taxes, they can't say the same regarding fees. "We cannot write off these fees on our (income) taxes," he said. "This is something that's of concern to me." A separate public hearing on the property tax increase will be held before council considers giving it final approval next month. Far more people turned out to speak about planned changes to the town's Coleman Boulevard Overlay District, which has come under fire because of complaints about new developments, such as The Boulevard and Earls Court, a small residential development at Whilden and Hibben streets. Council members unanimously voted to restrict the allowed density and require more parking, and it will study whether it also should restrict one-way streets - and reduce parking requirements for apartments - before giving final approval next month. Some developers and designers urged the council to reject the changes, saying they would make it impossible to build some houses like those found - and admired - in both I'On and the Old Village. But many more residents have been applying to pressure to council for months to consider some further restrictions on density and parking. More...
February 25, 2014
San Leandro, California
City waives all business license fees for 2014
San Leandro, California-San Leandro, California understands incentives. In an effort to attract new businesses and compete with the tech hubs of Palo Alto and San Francisco, the suburban manufacturing city has promised to waive business license fees for the remainder of 2014. “There is a tremendous amount of capital that is flowing into Silicon Valley and San Francisco and we are trying to get some of these businesses to consider San Leandro,” San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy told The Daily Caller News Foundation. Not only is the neighboring city offering to waive the business license fee for companies that move to the city, which is about $300 for small businesses, but the cost of living in San Leandro is significantly less than in other nearby cities. “Many businesses in San Francisco and elsewhere are getting priced out because the commercial real estate prices are so sky high…They are looking for alternatives, especially advanced manufacturing companies that need the space,” explained Cassidy. He estimated that the commercial real estate prices in San Leandro are anywhere from one third to one half less than in San Francisco and parts of Silicon Valley. According to an Apartment Guide study, the average rent for a 700 foot one-bedroom apartment in the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont area is $1,776. In San Leandro, depending on the area, it will cost residents around $1,000 to 1,400 for an apartment of a similar size. Espen Sivertsen, the CEO of the 3D printing manufacturer, Type A Machines, told TheDCNF that San Leandro’s comparatively low cost of living was one of the factors that incentivized him to relocate his company’s headquarters from San Francisco to San Leandro. “As we are growing I have to start thinking about where would be a good place for my employees to live and of course the cost of living in San Francisco is pretty high,” noted Siversten. But in a region where state-of-the-art technology is expected to be accessible to businesses big and small, San Leandro’s tax holidays alone would not be enough red meat to pull entrepreneurs from the tech Meccas of the Bay Area. In 2012 the city introduced the fiber loop or Lit San Leandro. This allows for an internet connection 2,000 times faster than the average U.S. connection and ten times faster than the Google fiber network being constructed in Kansas City. And for businesses that need even a quicker connection, the fiber loop can move up to 100 gigabits per second. Some of the companies that will take an advantage of this high-speed connection will work on the second floor of a renovated Chrysler plant, spanning 300,000 square feet. The city has more than one idle manufacturing plant, noted city council member Michael Gregory. But as companies catch wind of the available space and affordable real estate prices, the once doormat plants are becoming active again. 21st Amendment Brewery is one such company that plans to set up shop — it recently announced plans to build a massive 95,000 square foot brewery in a former Kellogg’s Cereal plant. Gregory told TheDCNF that San Leandro’s business initiatives are part of an overall effort to attract graduates from Stanford and Berkeley who cannot get the space they want or a place they can afford in San Francisco, but need high speed internet and the amenities of a big city. More...
February 11, 2014
Monsey, NY
Business Licenses, LLC Will Publicly Introduce Their Business License Research Framework
Monsey,NY - Business Licenses, LLC is hosting a free webinar entitled "Introducing the Advanced Business License Research Framework" on February 19th, 2014 at 2:00pm EST. The webinar will guide attendees through a framework for researching business license issues and ensuring compliance with the rules and regulations for all their governmental jurisdictions. The webinar will be of particular interest to anyone involved in business license compliance. Moreover, it will be directly relevant to any business that operates out of multiple venues or provides services in multiple locations. To register for this webinar, visit https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/727305462. "Research has always been central to our operations," says David Polatseck, President of Business Licenses, LLC. "This framework combines more than a decade of learned lessons and best practices honed. We have built and currently maintain North America's largest database of governmental business licenses and permit data based on the techniques instilled in this framework. We believe it will offer tremendous value to the corporations that are struggling with their business license compliance burden." "We provide business license compliance services to a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies," continued David Polatseck. "The research stage is the most critical and the most challenging to conduct cost-effectively. If companies can get the research process right, it will make all of their future business license challenges much easier to tackle." The webinar will be presented by Lorraine Cody, Director of Research at Business Licenses, LLC. Lorraine is a former town council member and is currently an accomplished attorney with experience in commercial litigation, real estate, and broker malpractice. Her background includes large law firms, substantial political and legislative experience, and extensive public speaking engagements. Business Licenses, LLC has spent the past decade serving over 11,000 clients, including many of the Fortune 500, with its software, services, and outsourcing offerings. Its unparalleled knowledge and experience make it the leading end-to-end U.S. provider to companies of all sizes looking for assistance with their governmental business license compliance needs. More...
February 10, 2014
Brattleboro, Vermont
Brattleboro to clamp down on business license scofflaws
Brattleboro, VT - The town is going to go after business owners who have ignored paying their business license fee. Brattleboro adopted a business license ordinance four years ago and most of the 880-or-so businesses in town have paid the $50 annual fee. But every year 50 or so business owners ignore the annual fee and subsequent reminder notices. At Tuesday night's Selectboard meeting the board agreed to authorize Town Assessor Russell Rice to go after the $50 fees, the $25 late filing fee, and the $100 penalty, for failing to file a license this year. The board voted 5-0 to go after the late filing fees this year. "There is no bite unless there is bite," said Selectboard member John Allen. "Otherwise it is just useless paper work. We've got to have something to back it up." Last year the issue was brought up to the Selectboard but the board declined to go after the late filing fees. Rice told the board Tuesday that the ordinance has been in place for four years and he said he wanted guidance on how to proceed to collect the fines and late fees this year "There has been no attempt to fine people," Rice told the board. "A list has been made but we never issued a fine. We are looking for guidance here." Rice said he has already sent out three notices to the businesses that have failed to pay the annual fee, which was due January 1. Notices went out in November and December, reminding business owners that the fee was due, and a third notice went out in January letting business owners know they were late filing for their annual business license. Under the ordinance the town can issue a $100 late filing fee penalty 30 days following January 1. The board first approved the business license program to support emergency services and to collect accurate and up-to-date contact information. The license fees bring in about $45,000 to the town. Business owners who pay the license fee also get up to $5,000 in relief from the Business Personal Property Tax. "This is out of respect to the licenses that were taken out," said Rice. If the fees are not paid, interim Town Manager Patrick Moreland said the town is willing to go to Small Claims Court to collect the outstanding fees and penalties. "It's an ordinance," Allen said. "It's time," said Selectboard member Donna Macomber. More...
January 22, 2014
Elgin, Illinois
No fee, but businesses still have to get license in Elgin
Elgin, Illinois - Businesses in Elgin are no longer required to pay a fee to obtain a business license, an anticipated victory for those who've been fighting for that since 2011. The city council approved doing away with the fee last week after giving a preliminary thumbs-up during budget discussions in the fall. Businesses are still required to get annual licenses at no cost. Among those who are pleased is Kevin Bunte of Bunte Auction Services, who was among more than 100 business owners who packed city hall in fall 2011 to protest the business license. The effort was spearheaded by Elgin OCTAVE, a group that advocates fiscal responsibility. "My problem is that they're scaring away businesses by charging more and more," Bunte said. "It's not that the amount was so much that we couldn't handle it — it was just one more hand in our pocket taking out more money." Elgin's business license fee — which did not apply to home-based businesses — was $35 to $590 based on square footage. City officials projected those revenues at $255,000 for 2013. The only dissenting vote last week came from councilman John Prigge, who said the city doesn't need a business license anymore. But if one exists, it should come with a fee to cover staff costs, he added. "I was a big proponent of it before I was elected. Now, there's just no reason for it," Prigge said. When the business license fee was approved in December 2009, it was a tool to put extra controls on problematic businesses as well as a method to gather a comprehensive database of Elgin businesses, Prigge said. The city has since strengthened its nuisance ordinance. Also, the city can get business data at no cost from Dun & Bradstreet, which compiles it for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Councilman Terry Gavin said. Although the fee was eliminated, businesses that don't get a license could incur penalties of $50 to $750 for each unlicensed day, Elgin management analyst Aaron Cosentino said. Scofflaws first get a letter and then must go through an administrative process before penalties are imposed, Cosentino said. In 2013, there were nearly 2,200 business license holders throughout the city, with only 24 scofflaws, including some lingering from past years, he said. Information about whether any business was charged penalties was not immediately available. As for neighboring towns, most also issue business licenses, Naperville being one notable exception. • Carpentersville has had a business license since 2006, Village Clerk Terri Wilde said. Most business license fees are $40; others like tobacco shops pay $250, and gas stations are charged per pump, she said. Businesses that also require a state license — such as beauty salons — don't need a business license but must register with the village, also at cost of $40, she said. "If they don't comply, it's believed it's because they don't know. Once they are advised, they comply," she said. • Streamwood has required business licenses for more than 20 years, Village Clerk Kittie Kopitke said. Home-based businesses pay the lowest fee at $100 per year; for general businesses, base fees are $150. The fees have only been raised once in her 19 years in the village, Kopitke said. Some banks require proof of licensing before establishing business checking accounts, she pointed out. • Naperville doesn't have a business license, said city communications manager Linda LaCloche. The city only issues occupancy permits whenever new businesses move into town, or existing businesses undergo renovations, she said. The city has no business directory of its own, she said. "For example if we get calls about shopping plaza information, we just don't keep that," LaCloche said. More...
January 22, 2014
Nehalem, Oregon
Business licenses coming to Nehalem?
Nehalem, Oregon - While its immediate neighbors to the north and south – Manzanita and Wheeler – have long had business license requirements, Nehalem, with the possible exception of shopkeepers permit at one time, does not. That may be about to change. At its January meeting, members of the Nehalem City Council reviewed a proposed ordinance, labeled the Business License Ordinance (2014-01), that would require those engaging in any business, profession, pursuit or occupation within the city limits of Nehalem to have a business license with a fee, reviewed on an annual basis, paid to the city. More...
January 15, 2014
Bardstown, Kentucky
Council ordinance discussion reveals ice cream trucks illegal in Bardstown
Bardstown, Kentucky – A council discussion about a possible ordinance to regulate food trucks like the White Castle Crave Mobile led to a surprising revelation: Ice cream trucks that operate within the City of Bardstown do so illegally — even though they have a city business license. Green explained that an ordinance approved years ago at the request of the Chamber of Commerce prohibits sales and displays that are not part of an existing business. The ordinance was passed to prevent people from pulling into a parking spot in town and selling furniture, garden produce or other goods from the back of a truck. Without the ordinance, anyone would load up a truck and stop and set up shop, he explained. The issue surfaced Tuesday evening during a discussion about a proposed ordinance to regulate food trucks that visit the city. The ordinance would require the operator to get a business permit, abide by health department regulations, park in a properly zoned area, and file the appropriate occupational tax forms at the end of the year. Councilman John Royalty asked Green if an ice cream truck would be affected by the ordinance. Green said the ordinance would impact ice cream trucks because there’s no provision in the ordinance that allows sales of those type. “If you want to allow an ice cream truck but not a hot dog truck, I’m not sure how you make that distinction,” he said. “This is one of those unintended consequences.” “I’m lost here,” Councilman Joe Buckman said. “So the ice cream truck can’t drive down the road?” “Not with this ordinance,” Green replied. “You mean he can’t stop in a subdivision and sell ice cream sandwiches to kids?” Royalty asked. “If he can do that, then somebody with a food vending taco truck or hot dog truck could drive down Third Street, park legally and sell food there,” Green explained. “I don’t know how you make an exception for ice cream.” The ice cream trucks are required to have a business license, but with this ordinance they can’t stop to sell ice cream, Royalty noted. City CFO Mike Abell noted that the operation of ice cream trucks is prohibited by the city’s existing ordinances, and despite the rules in Bardstown and in other places, ice cream trucks continue to operate in cities across Kentucky. But cities other than Bardstown don’t have an ordinance in place that prohibits outside sales not connected to an existing business, Green explained. Councilman Francis Lydian said he felt the ordinance was needed to keep mobile operators from competing with existing businesses. “Just to clarify, this rule doesn’t make ice cream trucks illegal,” Green said. “They are already illegal.” Sheckles asked the council and city staff to look at the situation and try to come up with a solution. More...
January 2, 2014
Bend, Oregon
Bend businesses comply with licensing
Bend, Oregon - Bend officials recently discovered that what appeared to be a shortfall in business license revenue was actually just a delay in updates to city finance data. The city’s Business Advocate Carolyn Eagan said in the fall that more businesses than anticipated failed to renew their city licenses. The city budget includes an expectation that license revenue from new and existing businesses will increase by approximately $40,000 this fiscal year, to nearly $300,000, according to the Finance Department. So when revenue appeared to be coming in slightly lower than the previous year, Eagan and city officials began to discuss the need for better enforcement of the requirement that all businesses obtain licenses. But recently, Eagan discovered a different explanation for what appeared to be a revenue shortfall: a lag in updates to the city’s accounting system. Financial Services Manager Brooks Slyter said the Finance Department used to run an update of the business license revenue data on a monthly basis, but recently an employee completed the updates more frequently. When that employee resigned in October, the Finance Department briefly went back to monthly updates. Although the city has not yet hired a replacement for the employee who left, other employees now run the updates more frequently, “so (the business advocate) can see what activity’s going on,” Slyter said. “We predicted a 12 percent increase in business license revenue this year over last year,” Eagan said. Now that the city’s figures are up-to-date, Eagan said revenues are coming in under budget by only one or two percentage points. Some business owners are renewing their licenses but doing so late, Eagan said. The goal of increasing compliance with the city’s business license program is for the city to obtain more data on the number and types of businesses, as well as contact information, so the city can get in touch with people whose businesses might be affected by proposed city regulations or other changes, Eagan said. “My goal is just to have more businesses in town,” Eagan said. City officials will this spring likely discuss potential changes to the business license program, such as a penalty for late registration, Eagan said. More...
December 25, 2013
Waynesville, NC
Change in business fee structure a windfall for Waynesville
Waynesville, NC - A new formula for business license fees will mean a six-fold increase in collections for the town of Waynesville this fiscal year, bringing in a projected $128,000 compared to $20,000 last year. The new rate structure is based on a business’s net revenue. Businesses that bring in more money now have to pay more for their annual business license, compared to the old system when businesses paid the same amount, no matter their sales volume. “Before Walmart would be paying $25 and a mom and pop store would be paying the same thing. Now Walmart is going to be paying more,” explained James Robertson, the Waynesville tax collector. “I feel like it puts everybody on a more level playing field.” Here’s how the new business license fees work. There’s a flat $25 annual rate up to $1 million in revenue. Once a business reaches $1 million in revenue, it has to pay an additional 50 cents for every $1,000 in sales. It comes out to $500 for every $1 million in revenue over and above that first $1 million. Historically, businesses were charged a flat rate according to the type of business it was engaged in. The fee varied among types of businesses in different categories. But within any given category, all businesses paid the same flat rate. Now, business must divulge their financials to the town in order for the town to calculate what they owe. Businesses usually provide their tax filing from the past year as documentation. But that taxpayer data is kept strictly confidential, said Robertson. Robertson said Waynesville has not gotten much pushback over the new fee structure. “Businesses realize it is just the cost of doing business,” said Robertson, who’s the president of the N.C. Association of Business License Officials. One business to complain about the new formula has refused to pay its business license fee, at least so far, according to Town Manager Marcy Onieal. But the deadline to pay up before officially being labeled “delinquent” hasn’t yet passed. The town can’t say which business complained, citing that taxpayer’s confidentiality. Most larger cities have already switched to a revenue-based formula. But smaller towns, especially those in the mountains, have been slower to adopt the new structure for calculating business license fees. Sylva was the first town west of Asheville to do so two years ago. Sylva has a more conservative rate structure than Waynesville. A business license fee is $50, with an additional 35 cents for every $1,000 in sales over and above $3 million. The initial fee is higher than Waynesville’s — $50 in Sylva instead of $25 in Waynesville. But the threshold for when a business has to kick in an additional percentage based on its gross revenue is higher — $3 million in Sylva compared to $1 million in Waynesville. “Our board didn’t want to hurt local businesses so they set the gross receipts as being over $3 million,” said Lynn Bryant, Sylva’s finance officer. Like in Waynesville, the new business license formula proved lucrative for the town of Sylva as well. The town increased its business license revenue by about $60,000 a year. Despite the obvious benefit to town coffers, Sylva and Waynesville remain two of the only towns in the region that have switched to the new formula. In Franklin, leaders talked about it but never made a decision. Waynesville has 645 active businesses on its books. But not all of those are still operating. Some have gone out of business since last year. And some are what Robertson calls “fly-by-nighters.” “You might have a contractor come in and get a business permit to build one house but you never hear from them again,” Robertson said. More...
December 23, 2013
Cookeville, TN
Local businesses to see changes in tax code
COOKEVILLE, TN — Local businesses will be seeing some tax changes in the New Year — last night, the Cookeville City Council approved to amend the municipal code to comply with new rules in the state’s Uniformity and Small Business Relief Act of 2013. During last night’s meeting, City Manager Jim Shipley said two of those major changes are that all businesses will be required to get a minimum business license, which is $15 in the city, and the minimum gross revenue to requiring a business to pay taxes is going up. “It’s always been the state law that if you had a business and you did less than $3,000 in gross receipts, you did not have to have a business license,” he said. “This raises that amount to $10,000. And will require every business to get a $15 minimum business license.” Another change is that businesses will no longer file based on a specific month determined by the code. “It changes the filing dates for all businesses to coincide with their fiscal year, which should make it a lot easier on the individual business,” Shipley said. The changes will be effective Jan. 1. Read more: Herald Citizen - Local businesses to see changes in tax code More...
December 22, 2013
West Jordan, UT
West Jordan praised for being business-friendly
West Jordan, UT - Since 2006, Utah has ranked in the top 5 on Forbes Magazine’s annual “Best States for Business” list. To maintain a business-friendly environment, Gov. Gary Herbert issued a charge to cities throughout Utah to audit their business processes and cut back on unnecessary rules and regulations. On Oct. 16, the City of West Jordan was recognized as a Utah Governor’s Business Friendly Community for taking measures to improve how quickly business licenses are issued. In many instances, primarily in the case of home occupations, city staff was able to reduce the time it takes to obtain a business license from several weeks down to 24-48 hours. “Staff came together and created a process map to evaluate the necessity of each step [of the licensing process],” Assistant City Manager Bryce Haderlie said. “We compliment them for realizing the challenges that new businesses face in the start-up phase and finding ways to remove as much of the stress and delay as possible.” Previously, all business license applications were held by the city until a full site inspection by a building inspector and fire marshal could be conducted, regardless of business type. In reviewing their regulations, staff members determined that there were cases when an inspection wasn’t necessary. Rather than continue to follow a blanket policy for all applications, the city will now determine the need to conduct an inspection on a case-by-case basis. While this modification will apply most often to home occupations, Development Director Tom Burdett said some smaller business applicants may also benefit from the change. “In looking at that whole system, we actually empowered the personnel in the business licensing department to make a determination right at the source, when the application first hits the city staff member, whether or not field inspection is necessary,” Burdett said. The city is also taking steps toward accepting business license applications online. “We’ve been trying to go paperless for four years; we’re getting a lot closer now,” Business License Technician Marsha Lancaster said. The governor’s office praised West Jordan for listening to the governor’s message and taking the initiative to improve business relations. “We were just impressed with the breadth of the survey that they did and the changes that they made,” Deputy Chief of Staff Mike Mower said. “Governor Herbert is very appreciative of West Jordan officials and the work they do to continue to make it a business-friendly community.” More...
December 20, 2013
Dewey Beach, Delaware
Judge tosses suit on Dewey license fees
Dewey Beach, DE — A Delaware judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of business owners in Dewey Beach challenging the town’s use of business license fees. The lawsuit was filed earlier this year on behalf of businesses owned by attorney and former U.S. Senate candidate Alex Pires. The lawsuit claimed that Dewey’s business license fees exceed the cost of administering and enforcing the business licenses, and instead amounted to a tax that the town is not authorized to levy. But a chancery court judge ruled this week that, even if the business license fees constitute taxes, the town charter as approved by the General Assembly gives Dewey officials broad taxing authority. The businesses named as plaintiffs in the suit include the Rusty Rudder and Jimmy’s Grille of Dewey Beach. More...
December 20, 2013
Morgan County, TN
State to require all businesses to license
Morgan County, TN- Come 2014, every business in the state of Tennessee will be required to get a business license, or risk paying a fine. A few years ago, the state took over that chore from individual counties, but some never made it a requirement to open a business. Morgan County is one of those places. "We have about 483 businesses in Morgan County that are going to have to purchase a business license," said clerk Cheryl Collins. Her office is getting busy with business owners who will be having to fill out a form for that piece of paper. "We have had businesses move to Morgan County just because we did not have a business license; the county did not employ one. But now we have to," she added. What that means is a $15 fee, and a tax. For most businesses who have more than $100,000 in receipts - they tax .1%. That equates to as low as $100, but for small businesses, it will still hurt. "There are some small businesses that I'm afraid will close their doors, because seriously -- they barely make enough," Collins added. "They enjoy doing what they do, they don't make a lot of the money." Two other counties, Claiborne and Clay, also had no requirement for a business license. That too will change come January 1. More...
December 19, 2013
Vicksburg, MS
Security company in shooting not licensed
VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) — Vicksburg records show T&T Security, the company hired by the promoters of a party during which one man was killed and two others were shot, was not licensed to do business in the city. The Vicksburg Post reports (http://bit.ly/18EOGLY) that a copy of the business license for T&T Security it obtained from the city under a Freedom of Information Act request shows the license expired July 31, 2012. T&T owner Michael J. Thomas is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Michael Robinson. Robinson died from a gunshot wound to the chest during a fight at the weekend party. Police Chief Walter Armstrong said he was unaware T&T's business license had expired. Thomas is being held in the in the Warren County Jail in lieu of $125,000 bond. ___ Information from: The Vicksburg Post, http://www.vicksburgpost.com More...
December 18, 2013
Montgomery, AL
Finding revenue: Montgomery ratcheting up fees, taxes
Montgomery, AL - Montgomery city officials estimate new tax and fee increases will rake in an additional $2 million in revenue for the city annually. Since August, the City Council has approved five policy changes that affect consumers and business owners. Those changes include eliminating a gas-and-lodging discount for business owners, limiting the sales tax discount for business owners, increasing lodging taxes, increasing the alcohol beverage tax and changing the business license fee schedule for retailers who sell to contractors. A fifth ordinance, which will be discussed again at the Dec. 17 council meeting, would raise fees for contractors who build within the city limits. The ordinance is expected to raise an additional $300,000 to $400,000 for the city. Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said he’s been working with the Public Affairs Council of Alabama over the past year or so to look at best practices and see how other cities in the state structure revenue streams. “Predicated on some of those conversations, we asked our revenue department to look at areas where we weren’t competitive with other communities,” Strange said. “The ones we’re dealing with are the ones we found were below what some of our sister cities were.” Finance Director Barry Crabb said some of the changes haven’t been looked at for years. He said there’s a “delicate balance” associated with generating revenue, keeping Montgomery competitive and making sure the city is in line with other cities in the state. “We’re not trying to do anything to run business away from Montgomery,” Crabb said. “It’s always something we’re looking at.” The most recent change was a 10 percent increase in the alcohol beverage tax, which required bars and restaurants to pay 5 percent of wholesale alcohol purchased, not including beer and wine. The new fee is about 15 percent, or about 3 cents for every drink made with a typical bar brand alcohol and 15 cents on every premium brand sold. In Mobile, that tax is 5 percent, 3 percent in Birmingham, 12 percent in Huntsville and 10 percent in Prattville. Crabb said Montgomery’s new, higher fee is actually more in line with other cities because Birmingham has a 1 percent occupational tax that helps keep taxes like that low. More...
December 18, 2013
Forsyth, MO
Penalty Adopted for Failure to Maintain Licenses
Forsyth, MO - Last night Forsyth aldermen approved second and final reading of an ordinance adopting a penalty for failure to obtain or maintain a business license. The city water supply to such businesses may be suspended or interrupted under the new law. Mayor Eddie Coleman responded to a recent request for a new street light on Bryant Street… The mayor referred to City Supervisor Chris Robertson. In other business, the board approved a one-time salary increase of 100-dollars for full-time employees and 50-dollars for part-time employees for Christmas. And aldermen welcomed three new volunteers to the Forsyth Fire Department: Jordan Hamilton, Zion English and Darran Wiltshire. More...
December 18, 2013
Bloominton, IL
City amends liquor code, creates entertainment, stadium licenses
BLOOMINGTON, IL — The city’s liquor code will more clearly define the types of businesses allowed to sell liquor after the City Council approved changes that also added two new license classifications. The City Council met Monday evening, a week earlier than usual due to the Christmas holiday next week. No meeting is scheduled for Dec. 23. Aldermen in an 8-0 vote approved the changes designed in part to better accommodate businesses selling alcohol that are neither taverns nor restaurants. Ward 3 Alderman Mboka Mwilambwe was not present. Mayor Tari Renner, who proposed the measure, assured aldermen the changes would not change the “de facto moratorium” on new tavern licenses downtown but will help eliminate businesses with restaurant licenses that operate more like taverns. The changes clarify that a restaurant license applies only where revenues from food, and food alone, exceed alcohol sales. They also require restaurants to keep certified financial statements showing sales proportions and make them available if requested by the liquor commission. “If an enterprise is not really a restaurant, they’re going to lose their license,” Renner said. The changes also create a license for entertainment and recreational sports venues where 60 percent of revenues come from admission or sports equipment rental with no more than 40 percent of revenues from alcohol sales. The license is designed for venues such as bowling allies, the Castle Theatre or the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts. A new stadium license will cover the U.S. Cellular Coliseum and allow liquor sales only on game or event days, with alcohol sales ending by the end of the event or earlier. In all three licenses, video gaming would not qualify as entertainment or count in the alcohol sales ratios. Then-Mayor Steve Stockton had attempted similar changes about a year ago, but the City Council — prior to some turnover with the 2013 election — rejected those changes in a 7-2 vote. In other business, aldermen unanimously approved committing $40,000 for a trail, less than 1 mile long, connecting Benjamin Elementary School to The Grove at Kickapoo Creek to allow students to safely travel to school on foot or bicycle. The city will only spend the money if, with the help of McLean County Unit 5 school district, it obtains an Illinois Safe Routes to School grant worth about $160,000. The total project would cost about $200,000. The proposed trail would stretch through open areas abutting the Grove subdivision north of Ireland Grove Road. It would cross the creek and incorporate an existing tunnel under Black Oak Boulevard in front of the school. More...
December 12, 2013
New licensing requirements starting for scrap metal businesses
Washington State-Scrap metal businesses in Washington will need to be licensed with the Department of Licensing beginning January 2014. However, businesses will not be able to apply for these licenses until January 2nd when the license applications are available. The Department will reach out to law enforcement agencies to make sure they are aware of this delay, and are not citing businesses for unlicensed activity. Even though licenses will not be immediately available, the remainder of the new laws and rules regarding scrap metal must be complied with. The Legislature passed House Bill 1552 last session, with the intent of reducing scrap metal theft by requiring the licensing of scrap metal businesses, and establishing new requirements for scrap metal transactions and record keeping. DOL will have the applications available sometime on January 2, 2014, so please check our website regularly for updates. If you have a question about who needs a license, the licensing process, or any other questions regarding the licensing of scrap metal business, please see our website at: http://www.dol.wa.gov/business/scrapmetal/. More...
December 9, 2013
Cedar Hills, Utah
Cedar Hills to require business licenses for rental properties
CEDAR HILLS, UT — Effective Jan. 1, 2014, a business license will be required for all city residential properties not occupied by the owner. The business license will require contact information for the owner and someone at the local level and will provide for inspections to ensure rental properties comply with current city code. All rental property owners should have received a letter through the mail regarding this new ordinance. Any questions can be directed to the city offices at 801-785-9668, ext. 100, or email frontdesk@cedarhills.org. More...
November 25, 2013
Renton, WA
County ruling allows city to collect more revenue next year
Renton, WA A ruling earlier this year from King County will allow the City of Renton to collect more revenue in 2014 than previously expected. The change could mean about $16 more per year per tax bill on a $300,000 home. According to Administrative Services Administrator Iwen Wang, who gave a presentation to the City Council Monday on the mid-biennial budget amendment, the budget was prepared assuming a levy of $3.10 per $1,000 assessed value maximum for 2013. Because the total valuation of the city dropped, the city hit the maximum tax rate and was required to collect less in revenue than in 2012. But the city raised a question to the county regarding the annexation into the King County Library System and the county agreed that because of the annexation, the city was not subject to the earlier limit, allowing them to raise the effective rate. “In that case, we shouldn’t be lowering our property tax collection in 2013,” Wang said Tuesday. Because state law limits revenue increase to 1 percent of the previous year’s total, the 2014 revenue projections were down some. But with the adjusted 2013 baseline, the city’s 1 percent projections were raised. Wang said the effect on the budget is a proposed increase in the tax rate from $3.10 to $3.15 per $1,000 assessed value. However, the city did see an increase of 7.6 percent in total valuation for 2014, which Wang said was “consistent” with surrounding jurisdictions. While an increase in valuation often means individual taxpayers pay a lower amount of the overall levy total, Wang said residents should not necessarily expect that in next year’s bill because the overall tax rate is up due to voter-approved parks and EMS levies. Wang said only 23 percent of a resident’s tax bill goes to the city, so the overall tax rate is largely outside of the city’s control. Much of the changes to the budget in this year’s mid-biennium adjustment come to the revenue side, with larger-than-expected amounts coming in to the city in key areas, especially construction sales tax. However, because that came largely from a single large project, which the city in September said was a Boeing project, the city is treating the increase in 2013 as an anomaly that Wang called “not sustainable” and “out- of-scale from all historical averages.” But the amount drops again in next year’s projections, though Wang said they were still anticipating “pretty healthy growth.” Wang called this year’s adjustment “one of the largest revenue adjustments I have seen in my life.” Not all of the adjustments were up, however, as utility taxes dropped, primarily due to a lack of growth in the cell-phone market and decrease in landline telephone taxes. There are also adjustments proposed on a few of the fees throughout the city as well. School-impact fees for new construction will change, as the school districts that operate in the city have changed their fees. Homes built in the Issaquah School District will see single-family impact fees go from $3,738 per home to $5,730. In the Renton district, multi-family fees increase from $1,308 to $1,339 per unit, but the single-family cost drops from $6,395 to $5,455. The cost of a temporary, 90-day business license will also increase from $25 to $50, the fine for non-renewal of a business license will go from $20 to $50 and the penalty for failure to obtain a license jumps from $50 to $250. Wang said the city increased license rates earlier this year, the first time since the late 1980s, but missed these three items. A Carco Theatre fee has also been removed from tax bills as the city now leases the theater to another entity. But while the projections for 2014 have come in rosier than initially expected, Wang warned that at the present time, projections show the city to have a deficit for 2015 and 2016 that will have to be corrected. No one spoke during a public hearing on the mid-biennium amendment, which will now go to the council for approval. More...
November 21, 2013
Alalmeda, CA
City of Alameda, CA to Audit Business Licenses
The City of Alameda announced last week it has hired Fresno-based Municipal Auditing Services, LLC (MAS) to audit all business licenses operating within the city limits. The purpose of the audit is to ensure that all businesses are treated fairly and that no business gains an unfair advantage by not paying or underpaying taxes. Unlicensed businesses will be located and compelled to obtain licenses and pay taxes. MAS will also audit existing business licenses to ensure they are paying the correct amount of tax. More...
November 20, 2013
Elgin, IL
Elgin Studies Whether To Keep Its Business Licensing — And Fee
Elgin, IL — A vote to do away with the city’s business licenses failed Wednesday, but the issue is set to come up again in the future before the city council. Following a presentation by Assistant City Manager Rick Kozal on the history and use of funds from business license fees — first charged beginning Jan. 1, 2010 — Councilman Terry Gavin moved that the entire program be scrapped. hat vote failed 6-3, with council members Gavin, Toby Shaw and John Prigge voting in favor of ending the licensing program. Other board members said they wanted more information first, such as how the city would replace funds earmarked for economic development. Before the city adopted the business license fee, the council debated the idea and received input from the business community, Kozal said. The council voted unanimously at that time to add the licensing fee, he noted. Originally, the fee’s revenue — expected to hit $250,000 in 2013 — went to the city’s public service agreements with the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Neighborhood Association for economic development initiatives, Kozal said. In 2012, those fund were earmarked for small business economic development, he added. The fees are based on square footage of the business and range from $35 to $595 a year. However, collecting the fee allows Elgin to cull other data about businesses in town — such as the types of businesses operating here, the square footage, number of employees “and other generalized info for economic development programs,” Kozal said. It is that information that council members said they didn’t want to lose if the licensing program disappeared. “We’d be one of three or four communities out of 300 that would not have that kind of data,” said Mayor David Kaptain. “It would interfere with economic development for us.” Without the business license program — or an equivalent — Elgin would not be able to answer simple questions for other businesses looking to locate here. “How many restaurants in Elgin? We can’t even answer the question” without a registration process, Kaptain said. It is important to fund economic development programs if Elgin wants to keep growing and expand its property tax and non-tax income, Kozal said. Figuring out what businesses are here — and which have or have not complied with the licensing fee — has been difficult. The original list of companies purchased from a database provider had a 30 percent inaccuracy rate. City staff compared that list to commercial water bills; but if a landlord pays water and not the business itself, those may be missed, according to Kozal. “I think it is important that we have accurate data of the businesses here. It helps with attracting additional businesses to the community,” said Councilwoman Anna Moeller. But, she added, she is not “wedded” to the fee structure either. If the $250,000 in economic development funds are taken away, she doesn’t want to see property tax payers footing the bill either, Moeller said. “I have a hard time saying yes or no cutting (that) from our budget instantly. What are the alternatives to replace that fee?” she asked. City staff said they would come back with a complete report for a future council meeting. More...
November 20, 2013
Elgin, Illinois
Elgin Studies Whether To Keep Its Business Licensing — And Fee
ELGIN — A vote to do away with the city’s business licenses failed Wednesday, but the issue is set to come up again in the future before the city council. Following a presentation by Assistant City Manager Rick Kozal on the history and use of funds from business license fees — first charged beginning Jan. 1, 2010 — Councilman Terry Gavin moved that the entire program be scrapped. hat vote failed 6-3, with council members Gavin, Toby Shaw and John Prigge voting in favor of ending the licensing program. Other board members said they wanted more information first, such as how the city would replace funds earmarked for economic development. Before the city adopted the business license fee, the council debated the idea and received input from the business community, Kozal said. The council voted unanimously at that time to add the licensing fee, he noted. Originally, the fee’s revenue — expected to hit $250,000 in 2013 — went to the city’s public service agreements with the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Neighborhood Association for economic development initiatives, Kozal said. In 2012, those fund were earmarked for small business economic development, he added. The fees are based on square footage of the business and range from $35 to $595 a year. However, collecting the fee allows Elgin to cull other data about businesses in town — such as the types of businesses operating here, the square footage, number of employees “and other generalized info for economic development programs,” Kozal said. It is that information that council members said they didn’t want to lose if the licensing program disappeared. “We’d be one of three or four communities out of 300 that would not have that kind of data,” said Mayor David Kaptain. “It would interfere with economic development for us.” Without the business license program — or an equivalent — Elgin would not be able to answer simple questions for other businesses looking to locate here. “How many restaurants in Elgin? We can’t even answer the question” without a registration process, Kaptain said. It is important to fund economic development programs if Elgin wants to keep growing and expand its property tax and non-tax income, Kozal said. Figuring out what businesses are here — and which have or have not complied with the licensing fee — has been difficult. The original list of companies purchased from a database provider had a 30 percent inaccuracy rate. City staff compared that list to commercial water bills; but if a landlord pays water and not the business itself, those may be missed, according to Kozal. “I think it is important that we have accurate data of the businesses here. It helps with attracting additional businesses to the community,” said Councilwoman Anna Moeller. But, she added, she is not “wedded” to the fee structure either. If the $250,000 in economic development funds are taken away, she doesn’t want to see property tax payers footing the bill either, Moeller said. “I have a hard time saying yes or no cutting (that) from our budget instantly. What are the alternatives to replace that fee?” she asked. City staff said they would come back with a complete report for a future council meeting. More...
November 19, 2013
Covina, CA
License Tax Amnesty Program Allows Businesses To Become Current Without Penalties
The city of Covina is offering amnesty to those who have not paid business license taxes and forgiving past-due fees for licenses made current before Nov 4. Covina started reviewing its license tax program this summer after receiving complaints from businesses and contractors facing thousands of dollars in fees. Brokers, particularly those working for real estate companies, spoke out a City Council meeting in July after getting notifications saying they needed to pay the tax, despite not working in Covina. The problem originated because the brokers have to register their state license where their corporate office is located. “They were concerned about the program and whether or not they needed to pay the business license tax based on their individual situations,” said City Manager Daryl Parrish. City staff met with those affected and after a series of meetings the council decided to offer an amnesty program to clear up some of the problems mentioned, according to Parrish. The amnesty program forgives past-due license tax, penalties and fees “for all years prior to 2013.” The amnesty period started Sept. 17 and lasts until Nov. 4. “We’re willing to give up the back taxes, the penalties, to get them to start paying the tax respectably,” Parrish said. Businesses interested in applying for amnesty can complete and submit an Amnesty Request form on the city’s website, www.covinaca.gov or by contacting the business license division at 626-384-5506. The requests are issued on a case-by-case basis, Parrish said. Dawn Cychner, owner of C&S California Capital Inc. and a Covina Chamber of Commerce board member, commended the city for working with business owners after complaints were raised. Some of Cychner’s employees originally received notifications to pay the tax, despite not being independent, she said. They now qualify for exemptions, she said. “Our people who did get those letters will fall under the exemption because they are employees, they are not independent contractors,” she said. One of Cychner’s original concerns was about how the license tax and the past due fees could affect small businesses. One business owner received a $900 notification before the amnesty program was instituted, she said. The original notifications came off as threats, she said. Businesses needing a license include retail outlets, wholesales, manufacturers, service companies, self-employed persons, independent contractors and home-based businesses, according to a city releases. The city still needs to work on its license rules in regards to real estate agents, particularly those listed as independent contractors, she said. “You might not necessarily work or sell property in Covina, but because of the way the rules are put together, you would have to have a business license here,” she said. The city allows exemptions for individuals who sign an affidavit stating they do not work in the city limits. Cychner noted that officials have been more than willing to meet with groups to continue to iron out any remaining problems, she said. “I think the city overall did a good job of listening to us,” she said. “I just think it should have happened a lot faster.” More...
November 19, 2013
Lane County, Oregon
County Considers Tobacco Licensing
Lane County health officials are looking into a potential countywide ordinance that would require all tobacco retail outlets to buy business licenses. The program would be aimed at reducing youth tobacco use, in part through using the license fee to bolster enforcement against retailers who sell tobacco to minors. Officials at the county’s Health and Human Services Department say the proposal is still in its embryonic stages. They haven’t yet developed information about how much the fee might be, or what the penalty program for violators could look like, for example. But officials say the need is pressing. In recent years, Oregon has ranked among the top states in tobacco outlets selling illegally to minors. Sixteen-year-old minors sent in by law enforcement generally are able to buy tobacco during about 1 of 5 attempts in random decoy tests conducted by Oregon State Police. Conversely, in 2012, decoys in 34 states were successful in purchasing tobacco in less than 1 in 10 trips. Christy Inskip, the county’s tobacco prevention coordinator, said preliminary, unreleased numbers she has collected for Lane County are even more startling than the statewide figures. A strong system of random checks and penalties for offending retailers — typically funded by a license fee — have proved to be an effective combatant of youth smoking “both nationally and internationally,” she said. Youth smoking, overall, is declining nationally and in Oregon. Oregon is one of 13 states that doesn’t require business licenses for tobacco retailers. Several cities statewide — including Eugene, Springfield and Oakridge in Lane County — do require such licenses, but no Oregon counties have yet adopted the requirement for all businesses within their boundaries. Such an ordinance would need to be approved by the Lane County Board of Commissioners. The commissioners and local health advocates identified tobacco use as one of five areas to focus on in its community health improvement program. The business license concept specifically is one that health department staff identified as a possibility, said C.A. Baskerville, the county’s prevention program and planning supervisor. “This is one concept that staff put forward as ... one of a number of options that would be appropriate responses to” the health priorities identified by the board, she said. County board Chairman Sid Leiken said one or more public hearings would be conducted before any such ordinance is adopted, and the board “could change direction” based on public sentiment. “I am looking forward to the public’s input before making a decision, as I am sure the board as a whole is as well,” he said in an email. In coming months, Inskip said she will be focused on talking to the leaders of Lane County cities and the estimated 300 tobacco retailers across the county. Initial community meetings about the details of a proposal could occur next spring. County officials will have many decisions to make in crafting a detailed proposal. They’ll have to settle on a fee; Eugene charges an initial $55 license fee, and a $35 renewal fee, while Springfield charges $77 initially and $50 on renewal. Inskip said the Eugene fee specifically was “too low” to raise enough money to fund a significant amount of compliance checks locally. County officials also would have to decide if county licenses could or should replace the cities’ licenses, and how license revenues might be distributed. Additionally, they would need to decide whether the penalties should stiffen for repeated violations by businesses. In some jurisdictions, businesses can be stripped of their license after several transgressions, but the state of Oregon imposes only a flat $100 fine, regardless of the number of violations. One decision county officials already have made is that any fines from their potential program would be assessed on the business owner, rather than on the clerk who makes the illegal sale. Many local jurisdictions, including Eugene, assess fines on the business owner, but the state fines individual clerks. More...
November 18, 2013
Daniellsville, GA
Danielsville Adopts Flat Rate Business License Fees
Danielsville council members adopted a simplified business license fee system for 2014 at their November council meeting Nov. 11. The council adopted a flat $100 annual fee for all businesses in the city. Previous business licenses charged a flat rate, plus an additional amount for each of the business’s employees, or a $250 annual fee for each state-licensed employee (attorneys, hairdressers, doctors, etc.). Mayor Todd Higdon said the fee would be lower for most businesses and that he hoped it would help attract more businesses into the city. “I think it’s a good starting point,” he said. In other business, Higdon reviewed police chief Brenan Baird’s monthly police report for October. Higdon noted the department’s progress under Baird’s leadership and with the new officers on board. “These guys are doing a good job,” Higdon said. He noted that Baird has been conducting training classes with the new officers and going over the department’s operating procedures. Officers are also being trained in use of force. The report provided a detailed breakdown for the calls for service for the month as well as administrative costs. Baird noted in his report that administrative costs were up considerably for October due to the expense of outfitting the new officers with the necessary tools to serve the city. Higdon reported that the maintenance department has almost completed refurbishing the town’s many sidewalks. Also, the council voted to give $500 each in proceeds from the Danielsville Fall Festival to The Madison County Food Bank, the Danielsville Volunteer Fire Department and the Madison-Oglethorpe Animal Shelter. Higdon and the council noted that all three groups provide important services to Danielsville and to the county. More...
November 15, 2013
Chicago, IL
In person business license application prices to rise
As part of a push by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to move Chicago’s Small Business Center to a “paperless” program by 2016, businesses applying for building and zoning permits in person next year will pay a premium. “As more and more residents pay bills, apply for services, and file their taxes online, city government needs to keep up,” Emanuel said. “With this investment we will bring small business services into the 21st century by moving licenses and permits to the web, helping businesses and residents save time and money.” The push to incentivize online applications will include business licensing, building permits, public way use permit and special event permits, which will be available through a single online portal providing access to services and customer support for business owners, contractors and residents. Emanuel said that the paperless effort will result in 120,000 fewer pages of paper from the system per year while improving case management and lowering costs. “As a small business owner myself, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to spend valuable time working on paperwork and other matters that are not related to growing a business,” Ald. Mary O’Connor (41st Ward) said. “I am so pleased to work with Mayor Emanuel to bring forward these reforms, so Chicago stays the most friendly city in the world for small business, and continues to grow jobs in our neighborhoods.” More...
November 14, 2013
Gray, GA
E-Verify added as requirement for businesses to operate in Gray, GA
Officials from the City of Gray and Jones County want business owners to have a heads-up about a new hurdle in place for obtaining business licenses next year. The additional requirement is the result of the Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act and is known as E-Verify. That legislation was signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal and is a tough expansion of Georgia’s existing immigration law. State employers of more than 10 full-time workers must enroll in E-Verify. The new requirement was brought to this reporter’s attention by Gray City Clerk Cindy Yancey. Zoning officer Tim Pitrowski, who handles business licenses for Jones County, said the same standards that apply in the city would also apply in the county. An E-Verify number or an accepted exemption will be required to renew or receive a new business license or professional license for businesses with 10 or more full-time employees. This includes both the City of Gray and Jones County business licenses, also known as Occupation Tax Certificates, that will be up for renewal in January. Read more: The Jones County News - E Verify added as requirement for businesses to operate here More...
November 12, 2013
Gray, GA
E-Verify added as requirement for businesses to operate in Gray, GA
Officials from the City of Gray and Jones County want business owners to have a heads-up about a new hurdle in place for obtaining business licenses next year. The additional requirement is the result of the Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act and is known as E-Verify. That legislation was signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal and is a tough expansion of Georgia’s existing immigration law. State employers of more than 10 full-time workers must enroll in E-Verify. The new requirement was brought to this reporter’s attention by Gray City Clerk Cindy Yancey. Zoning officer Tim Pitrowski, who handles business licenses for Jones County, said the same standards that apply in the city would also apply in the county. An E-Verify number or an accepted exemption will be required to renew or receive a new business license or professional license for businesses with 10 or more full-time employees. This includes both the City of Gray and Jones County business licenses, also known as Occupation Tax Certificates, that will be up for renewal in January. Read more: The Jones County News - E Verify added as requirement for businesses to operate here More...
October 7, 2013
Natchez, MS
City verifying business licenses
Business owners who don’t have a license from the City of Natchez may want to head to City Hall to get one. Every business in Natchez will soon be getting a visit from retired law enforcement officer George Rutherford, who has been contracted by the city to make sure every business in the city has a license. Rutherford is starting his second month working part-time for the city and has been physically going to businesses to check business licenses. “A lot of them I’ve found don’t have a license or let their license expire years ago,” Rutherford said. “It wasn’t something they kept up with, because nobody was checking on it.” Mayor Butch Brown said when he took office, he discovered that records of business licenses were not current. Brown personally checked with some businesses and professionals and discovered their licenses were not current. Some businesses had paid for licenses and never received them, Brown said. Others, he said, never bothered to get a license. Some business owners, Rutherford said, may not know they need a license, such as farmers who sell product on the side of the road. Produce stands require licenses, he said. Since Rutherford began checking licenses a month ago, revenue for licenses has increased, Brown said. Rutherford said revenue from licenses was up $2,000 last month. Rutherford has started checking businesses in the outer-lying areas of the city and is working his way inward. Brown said he is pleased to have Rutherford on the job and believes he is the perfect man for it. Rutherford joined the Natchez Police Department in the late 1960s and worked there until 1995. He spent his last 10 years at NPD as assistant chief. Rutherford then joined the Vidalia Police Department, where he was assistant chief for 10 years before his retirement. Rutherford said he is not sure how long checking all the businesses in the city will take. He said there is not an up-to-date list of all the businesses that he can go by. The reason many businesses do not have licenses may be just an oversight, Rutherford said. “A lot of people don’t realize they need one or don’t remember to renew it,” he said. “A lot of it is not intentional; it’s just an oversight on their part for not getting one or an oversight on our part for not notifying them.” Businesses without licenses face penalties. A business license must be renewed every year. Brown said he believes the city will conduct an annual check for licenses in the future, as well as keep a close watch for new businesses. More...
October 7, 2013
Hannibal, MO
Hannibal may begin to close businesses that fail to renew licenses
Thirty businesses have failed to renew their 2013-14 business licenses with the city of Hannibal, and the City Council voted Tuesday night shut them down if they do not become current. Collector Phyllis Nelson said each business was sent a certified letter stating they were delinquent in being re-licensed and would need to do so before Oct. 1 to avoid being closed. Councilmen approved Nelson's request to give still-delinquent businesses 30 days to protest that decision or renew their license. Hannibal police will begin locking or chaining doors to businesses that fail to comply in that time frame. Nelson said convincing business owners to renew business licenses, as prescribed in the municipal code, is an annual struggle. "We've always had trouble getting them to renew," she said. "It seems like we see the same names over and over." Licenses, which must be renewed each July, vary from $40 for most businesses to $100 for contractors. Nelson said the city is owed $2,260 in unpaid license fees. An 8 percent fine is added each month for delinquent businesses. Nelson said eight businesses are located outside of Hannibal and may have failed to cancel operating licenses from previous years. She said events such as hailstorms and windstorms often attract out-of-town contractors for an extended period of time, and it's not uncommon for them to decide not to renew, but fail to contact her office. Any business that has failed to renew their license must submit a new application and will be subject to an inspection. Sending multiple notifications also drain time and resources of City Clerk Angelica Vance's office, council members were told. "There are some genuine storefront businesses on that list," Vance said. More...
September 11, 2013
Spartanburg, SC
Spartanburg business owner arrested for operating a business without a retail sales tax license
A Spartanburg business owner was arrested Friday for operating a business without a retail sales tax license. The South Carolina Department of Revenue said Jack Owens was arrested by its investigators. An age and address were not provided. A statement by the DOR said Owens is the owner of Skatell's Jewelers on East Blackstock Road. According to the DOR, the store's retail sales tax license was revoked in June, but the store continued to operate. If convicted, Owens faces a maximum punishment of 30 days in jail and a $200 fine. More...
March 20, 2013
One-stop tax collection makes sense
Regulations are like bricks. One brick doesn’t weigh that much, but as you add more bricks, the load gets heavier and heavier until eventually it becomes a crushing burden that slows progress to a crawl. Complying with one regulation doesn’t require that much time and money, but as you add thousands of regulations a year from hundreds of federal, state and local agencies, compliance consumes an ever larger portion of an employer’s time and money — money that isn’t available to hire or sustain jobs. Take something as simple as permits. Imagine you’re a sign installer. Before you can install a sign, you have to get a permit. To get a permit, you have to have a business license in the town where you’re going to install the sign. So you have to drive to the licensing office, get a license then go to the permitting agency, fill out the paperwork, stand in line, show them your identification and business license, pay for your permit and drive home. Now imagine you own a business installing signs for dozens of customers in dozens of cities and towns throughout Washington. Imagine the time and money lost in navigating dozens of different local bureaucracies. More than 20 years ago, then-Secretary of State Ralph Munro brought the streamlining idea to state government, creating the “One-Stop Business Licensing System.” Under Munro’s system, the owners of that sign company could go to the Secretary of State’s office and get one business license to install signs anywhere in Washington. Unfortunately, only 55 of the more than 200 cities that have city licenses actually participate in the program. Today, we’re fighting a similar battle over collecting business and occupation (B&O) taxes. The state levies a B&O tax, but a variety of cities and towns impose their own versions, as well. If your business operates in a half-dozen different cities, you have to pay each city’s tax and license separately. This is needlessly complicated and costly. Large corporations may have the computer systems and staff to navigate such a complicated system, but small business owners do not. That doesn’t seem to bother some city officials who say that a centralized system “doesn’t work for us.” The question they fail to ask is, does it work for the taxpayer? Former Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) proposed a one-stop payment center during the 2012 legislative session. AWB supported the measure because it would make it easier for businesses to pay the taxes and license fees they owe, but the cities refused to negotiate and killed the bill. The measure was reintroduced this year, but cities like Seattle and Bellevue are fighting back. In a recent op-ed piece, Seattle City Council President Sally Clark and Bellevue Mayor Conrad Lee claimed a streamlined approach would cost the cities money. Ironically, they’re proposing to spend millions to set up their own B&O tax collection system to serve Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, Everett and Bellingham. If consolidating tax collection doesn’t save money, then why are they proposing to do just that? The reality is, streamlining the payment system just makes sense for cities of all sizes. Cities would retain the ability to adjust their individual tax rates, and it will help cash-strapped cities that can’t afford to electronically collect and administer local taxes. And it could bring thousands of new taxpayers into the system. When Spokane joined the state’s Business Licensing Service, the state Department of Revenue identified more than 5,000 Spokane businesses that weren’t on the city’s books. A centralized B&O tax payment center would be easier for taxpayers, more efficient, and it’s revenue-neutral — meaning it won’t cost more money. It’s just common sense. More...
March 20, 2013
Long Beach, NY
City Owed $2.4 Million in Business License Fees
An audit conducted by the City of Long Beach found that the city is owed more than $2 million in delinquent license revenue from local Long Beach businesses. According to city auditor Laura Doud, the February 2013 audit found that between $2.4 million and $2.6 million in business license fees are owed to the city with the average bill over a year old. The City of Long Beach collects approximately $12 million in business license revenue annually with the average license costing $383, the report said. "We want to be clear that our intent is to ensure the City collects the revenue it is owed from businesses that are not meeting their obligation," Doud said in the report. "It is unfair to the businesses that pay their fees to allow others to avoid paying." The audit covered the period of May 1, 2010 through April 30, 2012 and placed some of the blame for uncollected revenue on the city's outdated software system that monitors revenue due to the city. The city said it plans update the software this year. According to the report, auditors also found that the city lacked sufficient policies, procedures and documentation to effectively collect fees owed for business licenses. The audit found that 87 percent of accounts handled by the Business Relations Bureau were more than 180 days old with few attempts at collection. "Without comprehensive policies and procedures for the collection process, we found no consistency in the collection efforts performed by the Bureau," the report states. "It does not appear adequate oversight is in place." Among its recommendations, the audit said the city should improve oversight of the collection of business license revenue, increase its efforts to collect from out of town businesses and develop a method to effectively track unlicensed businesses. More...
May 31, 2012
Riverside, CA
Riverside County Man to Stand Trial for Business License Scam
By: Bluma Indich
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Gary Tranbarger ruled yesterday that Thomas Gerald Elder, 44, must stand trial for the unlawful collection of Riverside, CA business license fees. Dozens of Riverside County business owners may have been victims of Elder’s illegal collection of county business license fees. More...
May 18, 2012
May 17, 2012
Chicago, IL
Chicago Business Licensing Regulations Cause Popular Shared Kitchen to Close
By: Bluma Indich
Zina Murray, owner of Logan Square Kitchen, announced on her website that the local shared kitchen will be forced to close due to the ‘regulatory burdens’ imposed by Chicago’s business licensing laws. More...
May 17, 2012
Does the Business Licenses Process Deter Entrepreneurs from Opening Small Businesses?
By: Bluma Indich
A recent study by the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm, has revealed that state as well as local licensing requirements are actually holding back people from launching new businesses. Would-be business owners have complained that the cost and time involved in obtaining the multiple licenses required by the different government levels have deterred them from opening their own businesses. More...
May 14, 2012
Cities’ Business License Dispute to Head to Georgia Supreme Court
By: Bluma Indich
The dispute over the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and under whose jurisdiction it falls has taken on state attention when the Georgia Supreme Court agreed to preside over the million-dollar disagreement. The city that can legally claim rights to the airport has the authority to collect millions of dollars in occupational taxes paid by the numerous businesses operating in the airport. More...
May 14, 2012
Georgia Supreme Court to Rule over Cities’ Business License Dispute
By: Bluma Indich
The dispute over the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and under whose jurisdiction it falls has taken on state attention when the Georgia Supreme Court agreed to preside over the million-dollar disagreement. The city that can legally claim rights to the airport has the authority to collect millions of dollars in occupational taxes paid by the numerous businesses operating in the airport. More...
May 14, 2012
Georgia Supreme Court to Rule over Cities’ Occupational License Dispute
By: Bluma Indich
The dispute over the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and under whose jurisdiction it falls has taken on state attention when the Georgia Supreme Court agreed to preside over the million-dollar disagreement. The city that can legally claim rights to the airport has the authority to collect millions of dollars in occupational taxes paid by the numerous businesses operating in the airport. More...
May 14, 2012
Georgia Supreme Court to Rule over Cities’ Occupational License Dispute
By: Bluma Indich
The dispute over the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and under whose jurisdiction it falls has taken on state attention when the Georgia Supreme Court agreed to preside over the million-dollar disagreement. The city that can legally claim rights to the airport has the authority to collect millions of dollars in occupational taxes paid by the numerous businesses operating in the airport. More...
May 14, 2012
Atlanta, GA
Georgia Supreme Court to Rule over Cities’ Occupational License Dispute
By: Bluma Indich
The dispute over the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and under whose jurisdiction it falls has taken on state attention when the Georgia Supreme Court agreed to preside over the million-dollar disagreement. The city that can legally claim rights to the airport has the authority to collect millions of dollars in occupational taxes paid by the numerous businesses operating in the airport. More...
May 10, 2012
Business Licensing Plays a Big Role in Determining the Country’s most Business-Friendly States
By: Bluma Indich
A two-month survey conducted by Thumbtack.com, in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has shown up some remarkable facts. Small business owners across the nation have concurred that what ranks as most important to them when opening a new business, is the ease of obtaining state and local business licenses. More...
April 4, 2012
Lexington, KY
Lexington Council May Institute Copper Business Permit Ordinance
By: Bluma Indich
With the increase in value of metals, desperate individuals have taken to removing copper from houses and buildings and selling them to earn quick cash. County council members have proposed instituting an ordinance that would mandate the purchase of a Lexington, KY business license before dealing with precious metals so as to help curb the recent increase of metal theft. More...
April 3, 2012
Exeter, NH
Exeter May Establish Second-Hand Business License
By: Bluma Indich
Second-hand business license regulations have been implemented in many parts of the country for help in tracking stolen goods that oftentimes land up in pawn shops. Exeter police feel that a business license ordinance aimed at second-hand shops would help curb the rising number of untracked stolen goods. More...
April 2, 2012
Fox Lake, IL
Fox Lake Police Close Unlicensed Fitness Center
By: Bluma Indich
American Muscle and Fitness in Ingleside has been closed by police for operating without the requisite Fox Lake, IL and Lake County business licenses. More...
March 29, 2012
Hillsborough, NC
Hillsborough to Increase Internet Parlor Privilege License Fees
By: Alan Silver
The advent of electronically conducted sweepstakes has created unique challenges for law enforcement agents across the country. While on the surface internet parlors may seem to be legit, there are underlying suspicions of consumer fraud or deceptive trade practices being committed by these parlors. One way of legally curbing the increase of sweepstake parlors, is to severely increase the business licensing fees associated with the operation of these parlors to the point that owners would be forced out of business. More...
March 28, 2012
Newport, OR
Newport City Business License Ordinance Finally Approved
By: Susan Fish
Disagreements over business license regulations are commonplace with the business community trying to cut down the costs in running their businesses and government officials trying to increase revenue by raising the costs of obtaining business licenses. Disagreements over the Newport business license regulations came to head so many times that both business owners and city leaders agreed to revise the city’s business license ordinance. More...
March 27, 2012
Santa Monica, CA
Will Vendors Need Business Licenses in Santa Monica?
By: Bluma Indich
A misunderstanding in the municipal code has allowed vendors to get away with paying Santa Monica, CA business license fees for years. City council members would like to change that so they are calling for a revision to the city’s business license ordinance. More...
March 27, 2012
Sturgis, SD
Sturgis May Revise Temporary Business License Ordinance
By: Bluma Indich
In advance of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, held each August, city council members have proposed changing the temporary business license ordinance to call for an increase in licensing fees. More...
March 22, 2012
Utica, MI
Utica to Require Pawn Broker License
By: Bluma Indich
Utica has joined the ranks of cities nation-wide that are using business license regulations as a means of helping law-enforcement agents provide citizens with the safety we need. Council members passed two ordinances that would require pawnbrokers to obtain a Utica, MI business license and follow certain regulations in order to be allowed to deal with second-hand goods. This will help the local police track stolen goods and return them to their rightful owners. More...
March 22, 2012
Tampa Bay, FL
Tampa Bay Officials Discover Undercover Unlicensed Business
By: Susan Fish
Touched By An Angel, one of Tampa Bay's largest homeless shelters, often referred to by Pinellas Park police, has been found to be operating an unlicensed telemarketing business in a substation of the shelter. More...
March 21, 2012
Santa Barbara, CA
Santa Barbara Mayor Looking to Increase Business License Fees
By: Bluma Indich
Mayor Schneider has appointed herself as a one-person committee responsible for getting public approval on proposed increases to Santa Barbara, CA business license fees for downtown restaurants and bars. Since the increases are the Mayor's idea, she has agreed to shoulder the full job of getting her proposal passed without involving the city council at all. More...
March 21, 2012
Santa Ana, CA
Santa Ana Mayor Found to be Operating Unlicensed Business
By: Susan Fish
Honest, law-abiding citizens get annoyed when they hear about business license scofflaws. The annoyance oftentimes turns into anger when they learn about a scofflaw that also happens to be a well-known politician. A recent write up about Mayor Miguel Pulido and his laxity in paying Santa Ana, CA business license fees has riled up local residents about the corruption of their elected officials. More...
March 20, 2012
Farragut, TN
Farragut May Enact Business License Ordinance
By: Bluma Indich
With the recession showing no signs of easing up, more and more individuals are turning to desperate means to earn some much-needed cash. Many of these business ventures are ill-formed and lack the necessary foresight in ensuring that proper goods and services are provided to customers. With this in mind, many local governments are turning to business licensing as a way of regulating local businesses and the services they provide. More...
March 20, 2012
Santa Rosa, CA
State Tax Team on the Lookout for Unlicensed Businesses
By: Alan Silver
Business owners are being notified about state agents’ plan of visiting local businesses to check if they have the proper Santa Rosa, CA business licenses as well as the necessary California business licenses and permits for conducting business. More...
March 19, 2012
Aurora, IL
Aurora May Institute Tattoo Shop Business License
By: Bluma Indich
City officials discussed the possibility of instituting an Aurora, IL tattoo license in an effort to regulate the growing number of tattoo shops in the area. More...
March 19, 2012
Escondido, CA
Escondido Cracks Down on Unlicensed Businesses
By: Susan Fish
MuniServices LLC, a municipal revenue enhancement services company, has estimated that 15% of businesses at any given region are unlicensed. MuniServices uses a tracking program to get hold of the unlicensed businesses and ensure their compliance with local business licensing requirements. Escondido council members have recently decided to hire MuniServices LLC to track down unlicensed local businesses. More...
March 15, 2012
Wilkesboro, NC
Wilkesboro Town Council Passes Gross Revenue Business License Tax
By: Alan Silver
As per the advice of Mayor Mike Inscore, council members agreed to institute a new Wilkesboro, NC business license fee structure that is aimed at increasing the taxes of business earning more than $500,000 annually. More...
March 15, 2012
Jefferson, MO
‘After-Hours’ Business License Ordinance Passed in Jefferson City
By: Bluma Indich
Business license regulations aren’t only a means used by local governments to increase their revenue. Many city and state officials use the necessity of obtaining a business license as a way of enforcing safety regulations. More...
March 14, 2012
Richland, SC
Richland Amends Business License Ordinance
By: Susan Fish
Merchants who sell products outside of South Carolina will no longer have to pay Richland, SC business license taxes on the revenue of their out-of-state sales. County council members voted to do away with this aspect of business license charges at their council meeting on Tuesday, March 6, 2012. More...
March 14, 2012
East Chicago, IL
East Chicago Business License Fee Increases Lower than Originally Reported
By: Bluma Indich
A change in council membership has bought about a change much welcomed by city businesses. At a council meeting last week, the new group of councilors chose to lower the East Chicago, IL business license fee increases that had been passed by the previous council group last year. More...
March 13, 2012
Pike, IL
Pike County to Establish Food License
By: Bluma Indich
After years of ironing out the details, county board members have publicized their intention of passing an ordinance that would mandate the acquirement of a Pike, IL business license for all county food establishments. More...
March 13, 2012
Nevada Subpanel Reverses 2009 Business License Ruling
By: Alan Silver
Thousands of home-based businesses will now be required to obtain a Nevada business license thanks to Thursday night’s ruling by The Legislative Commission’s Subcommittee to Review Regulations. This is a large victory for Democrats who have been trying to reenact this requirement since a 2009 ruling exempted home-based businesses, who earn less than $27,000, from paying the business license fee. More...
March 12, 2012
San Clemente, CA
San Clemente Council Members Vote Down Changes to Business License Fee Structure
By: Bluma Indich
City councilors have rejected an appeal made by the local Chamber of Commerce to adjust the current San Clemente, CA business license fee structure to reflect more business-friendly charges. Members of the Chamber of Commerce have been trying to get the council to implement changes since the summer. More...
March 8, 2012
Steelville, MO
Steelville to Increase Business License Fees
By: Bluma Indich
Council members agreed to increase Steelville, MO business license fees from a current annual charge of $5.50 to $25. Council members discussed the suggested increase at a public hearing that was set up in order to hear business owners’ opinions on the increase. More...
March 8, 2012
Hazleton, PA
Hazleton City Authority Board Member under Attack for Operating Unlicensed Business
By: Susan Fish
Ed Shoepe, a member of the Hazleton City Authority board of directors, has come under attack for operating a business without obtaining a Hazleton, PA business license. Although Shoepe has since come into compliance with city business licensing requirements, other city officials feel that his prior incompliance invalidates him from serving on the board. More...
March 7, 2012
Souderton, PA
Souderton Borough Proposes Increasing Business License Fees
By: Bluma Indich
Following the recommendations of borough code enforcement officer Carl Stuart, council members have decided to review the current charges for Souderton, PA business license fees at their council meeting. More...
March 7, 2012
Cumming, GA
Unlicensed Cab Service Denied Cumming Business License
By: Susan Fish
Council members chose to deny William A. Mainard Jr. a "public convenience" license to operate his taxi service after learning that Mainard has been running his cab in the city without first receiving a Cumming, GA business license. More...
March 6, 2012
Elgin, IL
Elgin Cracks Down on Unlicensed Businesses
By: Bluma Indich
With 13 percent of the city’s businesses failing to comply with the Elgin, IL business license requirements, council members have decided to take drastic measures in ensuring compliance. City officials will be sending letters to unlicensed businesses informing them of their options: pay up or appear in court. More...
March 6, 2012
Branson, MO
Branson Police Warning: Don’t Hire Unlicensed Contractors
By: Alan Silver
A number of tornadoes struck Branson, MO last week causing heavy damage to 40 percent of the town’s buildings. Residents are now left with the task of repairing and rebuilding their damaged homes. Police have put out a warning to residents to only hire contractors who have a valid Branson, MO business license to conduct repairs on their homes. More...
March 6, 2012
Branson, MO
Branson Police Warning: Don’t Hire Unlicensed Contractors
By: Alan Silver
A number of tornadoes struck Branson, MO last week causing heavy damage to 40 percent of the town’s buildings. Residents are now left with the task of repairing and rebuilding their damaged homes. Police have put out a warning to residents to only hire contractors who have a valid Branson, MO business license to conduct repairs on their homes. More...
March 5, 2012
Eutawville, SC
Council Discusses Eutawville Business License Ordinance
By: Bluma Indich
Close to a year after council members unanimously voted to change the Eutawville, SC business license ordinance, council members gathered again to discuss the change and the negative impact it has had on some local businesses. More...
March 5, 2012
San Diego, CA
Discover Pacific Beach Board Members found to be Underreporting on Business License Applications
By: Alan Silver
In a shocking display of corruption by individuals claiming to be working for the city’s good, a recent audit has discovered over 10 cases of underreporting on San Diego, CA business license applications made by members of the Discover Pacific Beach organization. Since business license fees are based in part on the number of workers employed, the underreporting of employees is costing the city a total of $1,133 in unpaid fees each year. More...
March 2, 2012
Williston, SC
Williston May Change Business License Ordinance
By: Bluma Indich
Council members are considering changing the Williston, SC business license ordinance to include a motion that would require business owners to provide copies of their income tax returns when filing for a local business license. More...
February 29, 2012
Oxnard, CA
Oxnard Police Arrest 2 for Operating a Business without a License
By: Susan Fish
Fawzi Hamed, the owner of Fredy del Oro, and his employee, Laura Elvira Martinez, were arrested last week by local police for operating a shop that buys and sells gold and jewelry without obtaining the requisite Oxnard, CA business license. More...
February 29, 2012
Reno, NV
Should Non-Profits Pay Business License Fees?
By: Alan Silver
What may have been looked at as an undisputable fact, is now being questioned by many city officials. Should non-profits be required to pay business license fees? And even more importantly, what constitutes a non-profit organization to make them exempt from paying business license fees? More...
February 28, 2012
Phenix, AL
Two Phenix Cafes Closed for Operating without a Business License
By: Susan Fish
City police closed Sports Rock Café and Sports Rock Café II for failing to renew their Phenix, AL business license and remaining open for three weeks without a valid business license. Owner, Brent Taapken, claims that the reason he didn’t renew his business license is because he is trying to work with the city to change his license to a lounge license. More...
February 28, 2012
Columbia, SC
Columbia’s New Business License Rule Provokes Complaints
By: Bluma Indich
Local business owners have been complaining about the new Columbia, SC business license requirement that now obligates business owners to disclose sections of their income-tax records when applying for a city business license. More...
February 27, 2012
Charleston, SC
Charleston County Employee Uncovers 180 Unlicensed Businesses
By: Alan Silver
Tami Fralick, the manager of the Revenue Collections Department, has discovered that more than 180 local businesses have been operating without obtaining a Charleston, SC business license. Fralick uncovered this when comparing state sales tax reports to the county’s business license lists. More...
February 27, 2012
Seattle, WA
Public Health Officials Close Unlicensed Restaurant
By: Susan Fish
Public health officials closed a restaurant located in the Skyway neighborhood of Seattle for operating without having obtained a local business permit. Food permits are imperative to the health of restaurants and eateries as local governments use the application and renewal process as a means of regulating the hygiene of the food establishments. More...
February 27, 2012
Cumberland, VA
Cumberland Raises Business License Threshold
By: Bluma Indich
$30 may seem like a paltry sum of money in today’s world, but to people who are struggling to earn funds for basic necessities; $30 can feel like a lot of cash to shell out for a county business license. At the behest of County Administrator Judy Ownby, county supervisors agreed to raise the Cumberland, VA business license threshold from $3,000 to $10,000 thereby cutting out the obligation of low-earning businesses to purchase a county business license. More...
February 23, 2012
Cobb, GA
Cobb Police Arrest Woman for Buying Gold without a Business License
By: Susan Fish
Undercover agents have been on the lookout for unscrupulous individuals that may be involved in the purchase and sale of criminally acquired precious metals. The Cobb, GA precious metals license is largely used to legalize the sale of gold and silver attained through honest means. More...
February 23, 2012
Bayonne, NJ
Bayonne Increases Business License Fees
By: Bluma Indich
Council members approved a measure last Wednesday, February 15, 2012, allowing for increases to many Bayonne, NJ business license fees. The increases were unanimously passed by councilmen who felt that they were justified as they will be used to finance the government services provided to More...
February 22, 2012
Henagar, AL
Henagar Considers Ways of Cracking Down on Unlicensed Businesses
By: Susan Fish
City officials have recently realized that they have no enforcement method in place to ensure compliance to Henagar, AL business license regulations. Council members discussed this issue at a council meeting last week. More...
February 22, 2012
Moreland, GA
Moreland May Increase Business License Fees
By: Bluma Indich
Council members will hold a public hearing next Tuesday, February 28, 2012 to discuss the possibility of raising Moreland, GA business license fees. Moreland currently charges a mere $25 for a town business license. More...
February 21, 2012
Lakewood, WA
Lakewood Considers Business License Fee Increase
By: Bluma Indich
At a study session last week aimed at finding ways to close the gap in the city’s budget, council members suggested raising Lakewood, WA business license fees. More...
February 21, 2012
Norfolk, VA
Norfolk Cracks Down on Unlicensed Peddlers
By: Susan Fish
City officials have taken a proactive step in ensuring that all peddlers selling goods in the city have acquired a Norfolk, VA business license. Officials of the Commissioner of Revenue's Office drive around the streets, especially during holiday seasons, looking for unlicensed peddlers. More...
February 20, 2012
Will Nevada Collect Business License Fees from Home-Based Businesses?
By: Alan Silver
The Nevada Legislative Commission deferred action on Secretary of State Ross Miller’s proposed regulation to allow for the collection of business license fees from home-based businesses. Current regulations exempt home-based businesses earning less than $27,000, from paying Nevada business license fees. More...
February 20, 2012
Fayetteville, NC
Fayetteville Auctions Assets of Unlicensed Businesses
By: Susan Fish
Shutting them down was too small a penalty, city officials felt, for incompliance with Fayetteville, NC business license regulations. Instead, city officials decided to go the extra step and sell the assets of two unlicensed businesses. More...
February 16, 2012
West Virginia
West Virginia Proposes Business License Bill to Help Curb Copper Theft
By: Alan Silver
Numerous instances of copper theft at Frontier Communications, the state’s largest telephone company, have prompted state legislatures to consider a bill that would help curb copper theft by requiring scrap metal dealers to obtain a West Virginia business license. More...
February 16, 2012
Jefferson, MO
Unlicensed Businesses may Face Larger Penalties in Jefferson City
By: Alan Silver
City officials have discovered that the number of businesses operating under the radar of city regulations is larger than what they had originally thought. They are also afraid that the problem keeps on increasing, and more and more businesses are opening without obtaining a Jefferson, MO business license. More...
February 15, 2012
San Luis, AZ
Council Candidate Challenged for Operating Unlicensed Swap Meet
By: Susan Fish
Nieves Riedel, a council candidate on next month’s primary election, has disagreed with city officials over the legality of her ‘charity’ work. Riedel has allowed individuals and organizations to use the parking lot of her shopping center as a place of conducting fund-raising sales on Fridays and Saturdays, without obtaining a San Luis, AZ business license. More...
February 15, 2012
Soap Lake, WA
Soap Lake Landlords Debate Rental Property Business License Ordinance
By: Bluma Indich
Landlords haven’t given up yet in their attempt to do away with the new Soap Lake, WA business license requirements of owners of rental properties. Rental owners will have their units subject to an inspection by a city inspector before qualifying for a city business license. More...
February 14, 2012
Richmond, GA
Richmond Police Arrest Man for Lying on Business License Application
By: Susan Fish
Patrick Walton, the owner of Magic City Club, was arrested last Wednesday by county police for lying on his Richmond County business license application. Walton filed a mercantile business license, giving false information about his ownership of a business that is non-existant, when in reality he was operating a teen club. More...
February 14, 2012
Cincinnati, OH
Will Sellers of Scrap Metal be Required to Get a Business License in Cincinnati?
By: Bluma Indich
In an unprecedented move, Cincinnati City Council’s Public Safety Committee has proposed an ordinance that would require of not only buyers, but also sellers of scrap metal, to obtain a Cincinnati, OH business license. More...
February 13, 2012
Norfolk, VA
Police Investigate Unlicensed Tax Office Franchises
By: Susan Fish
In an investigation that began with complaints from Norfolk residents about undelivered tax returns, police discovered that five of the six Mo Money Taxes offices in the city had been operating without a valid Norfolk, VA business license and shouldn’t have been open in the first place. More...
February 13, 2012
Challis, ID
Challis may Institute City Business License
By: Bluma Indich
At the Chamber of Commerce meeting last week, Mayor Mark Lupher suggested instituting a Challis, ID business license ordinance. Many other neighboring Idaho cities have recently mandated the need to obtain a city business license. More...
February 9, 2012
Berkeley, CA
Unlicensed Pizza Store Restricted in Services
By: Susan Fish
Gioia's Pizzeria, a highly popular pizza spot, has been found to be operating without a Berkeley, CA business license since 2004. The owners of the pizza store claim they didn’t know they needed to get their own business permit when they took over a spot that had been previously occupied by a different restaurant. More...
February 9, 2012
Salt Lake, UT
Salt Lake County to Grant Business License Penalty Waivers
By: Bluma Indich
County council members unanimously agreed to grant penalty waivers to local businesses who can affirm that the cause of their delay in applying for a Salt Lake, UT business license was as a result of the change in the renewal system, rather than negligence. More...
February 8, 2012
Chapel Hill, NC
Chapel Hill Institutes Mobile Food Vendor License
By: Alan Silver
After 16 months of discussion, council members voted their approval to an ordinance that will establish the Chapel Hill, NC mobile food vendor license. Chapel Hill follows in the footsteps of nearby Carrboro, Raleigh and Hillsborough who have since instituted their own business licenses to allow for the sale of food by mobile vendors. More...
February 8, 2012
Culpepper Grants Business License Reductions
By: Bluma Indich
The Town of Culpepper and the County of Culpepper have finally come to an agreement in which the Town of Culpepper will annex the commercial area surrounding the current town boundary line. As part of the agreement town officials have agreed to grant reductions to the Town of Culpepper,VA business license fees. More...
February 7, 2012
South Lake Tahoe, CA
South Lake Tahoe May Change Business License Tax Structure
By: Bluma Indich
Council members will discuss a measure today, Tuesday, February 07, 2012, that would change the South Lake Tahoe, CA business license tax structure to decrease costs for smaller businesses and increase costs for larger businesses. More...
February 7, 2012
Star Valley, AZ
Star Valley to Continue Charging Business License Fees
By: Alan Silver
Council members, last week, voted their disapproval to an initiative suggested by Councilor George Binney to do away with the Star Valley, AZ business license fees. Star Valley currently charges an annual $50 to obtain a town business license. More...
February 6, 2012
Perry, GA
Two Arrested in Perry for Selling Alcohol without a Business License
By: Susan Fish
Numerous complaints about illegal activity taking place at a home on Oldfield Lane in Perry prompted a police investigation that led to the arrest of Grover Jackson and Carolyn Jones McCants. The two were charged with selling alcohol without obtaining a Perry, GA business license. More...
February 6, 2012
Rock Hill, SC
Rock Hill to Give Business License Discounts
By: Bluma Indich
In an effort to boost the local economy and to help struggling business owners cope with the large expenses involved in running their businesses, city officials agreed to grant a 15% discount to business owners applying for their Rock Hill, SC business license prior to the April deadline. More...
February 2, 2012
St. Clair, MO
St. Clair to go After Unlicensed Businesses
By: Susan Fish
City aldermen agreed Tuesday not to take prompt action against businesses who have missed the January 31 deadline to renew their St. Clair, MO business licenses. In previous years, city officials allowed delinquent businesses a couple of months grace period before taking legal action against them. More...
February 2, 2012
Mesquite, NV
Mesquite Mayor Vows to Review Business License Fee Ordinance
By: Bluma Indich
In his first State of the City address, Mayor Mark Wier promised to continue the city’s process of becoming more “business friendly.” Included in the business issues to be addressed by city officials are the Mesquite, NV business license fees and how they are calculated. More...
February 1, 2012
Leadville, CO
Two Business Owners Pay up Four Years of Unpaid Business License Fees in Leadville
By: Susan Fish
Threats of court appearances have caused two unlicensed businesses to pay up four years worth of unpaid Leadville, CO business license fees last week. More...
February 1, 2012
Savannah, GA
Savannah Reduces Business License Fees
By: Alan Silver
In an effort to assist struggling businesses in tough economic times, city officials have agreed to cut Savannah, GA business license taxes considerably for the next three years. The cuts will only apply to businesses operating in neighborhoods that have been most affected by the nation’s bleak economy. More...
January 31, 2012
Clover, SC
Unlicensed Junk Yard Owner Loses Jury Trial
By: Susan Fish
Age and status didn’t help John Ramsay when he stood before a jury trial last week arguing for his right to keep his unlicensed business open. Jurors upheld the town’s opinion that unless Ramsey obtained a Clover, SC business license, his salvage yard will have to be cleaned up and closed down. More...
January 31, 2012
Marshall, KY
Marshall County Proposes Instituting Solicitors Business License
By: Bluma Indich
Complaints by residents about the increasing disturbances of roadside panhandlers have caused county officials to propose an ordinance that would institute the Marshall, KY solicitors license. If passed, individuals looking to raise funds on county streets would have to apply for a county business permit 48 hours prior to hitting the road. More...
January 30, 2012
Gwinnett, GA
Immigration Regulations Complicate Gwinnett Business License Filings
By: Bluma Indich
A new immigration law passed by the Georgia General Assembly last year, now known as the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act, has slightly complicated Gwinnett, GA business license applications and renewals. More...
January 30, 2012
San Bernardino, CA
Uncovering of Unlicensed Jet Refueling Facility Sparks Greater Investigation in San Bernardino
By: Susan Fish
Residents were shocked to learn that Million Air, an upscale jet refueling facility at San Bernardino International Airport, previously commended for its contributions to the growth of the airport, has been operating without a San Bernardino, CA business license for the past 10 months. More...
January 27, 2012
Delhi, CA
Mass Raid Leads to Arrest of 14 Unlicensed Contractors
By: Susan Fish
14 contractors were cited last week for offering contracting services in excess of $500 without obtaining the necessary contractors licenses and business licenses. More...
January 27, 2012
Madison, VA
Madison Residents Protest New Business License Fees
By: Bluma Indich
Residents and county supervisors debated the fairness of the new Madison County business license fees at the supervisor’s monthly meeting last week. More...
January 26, 2012
Richmond, GA
Augusta Man Charged for Operating a Teen Party without a Business License
By: Susan Fish
Patrick Walton, the owner of Magic City is being charged with operating a teen party without obtaining the requisite Richmond, GA business license. The fact that the murder of a local teen occurred shortly after his attending the teen party at Magic City, further complicates the legal issues facing Patrick Walton. More...
January 26, 2012
Colton, CA
Business License Renewal Date Changes for some in Colton
By: Bluma Indich
Not all businesses will be renewing their Colton, CA business licenses on January 1, next year. City council members have voted to divide the business license renewals to 2 separate dates. More...
January 25, 2012
Wentzville, MO
Wentzville Aldermen Debate Business License Requirement
By: Bluma Indich
At a city work session last week, the Board of Aldermen debated the pros and cons of the Wentzville, MO business license requirements. Some aldermen felt that the small financial income that the city receives from the business license fees may not justify the effort it takes to collect the fees. More...
January 25, 2012
Roanoke, VA
Owners of Unlicensed Animal Shelter Arrested
By: Susan Fish
Bonnie Sheehan and Pamela King-McCracken were arrested last week in Tennessee on multiple charges associated with the move of their animal shelter to Roanoke, VA. Included in those charges are claims against the pair for moving their animal shelter without obtaining the necessary Roanoke, VA business license. More...
January 24, 2012
Greenwood, SC
Greenwood may Impose a Business License Tax on Non-Profits
By: Bluma Indich
Financial woes have caused Greenwood city council to consider a novel idea, tax the non-profits along with the other local businesses. This is an unprecedented step in South Carolina as all other localities do not expect non-profits to pay business license fees. More...
January 24, 2012
NGIA Requests Food Permit Increases
By: Alan Silver
Across the nation, business owners have been petitioning for reductions in the fees and taxes associated with running their businesses. In a surprising twist of events, the organization that represents all facets of the food industry throughout Nebraska, the Nebraska Grocery Industry Association, has been lobbying for an increase in the Nebraska food permit fees. More...
January 24, 2012
NGIA Requests Food Permit Increases
By: Alan Silver
Across the nation, business owners have been petitioning for reductions in the fees and taxes associated with running their businesses. In a surprising twist of events, the organization that represents all facets of the food industry throughout Nebraska, the Nebraska Grocery Industry Association, has been lobbying for an increase in the Nebraska food permit fees. More...
January 24, 2012
Chicago, IL
Unlicensed Pizza Joint Shut Down in Chicago
By: Susan Fish
The City of Chicago shut down Pie Hole Pizza Joint for operating without a current Chicago, IL business license. The $600 business license could not be filed because the pizza store was behind in payment of sales tax and the city does not renew licenses for a business that is delinquent or even late in paying. More...
January 23, 2012
Macon, GA
Macon Hires Collection Company to go after Unlicensed Businesses
By: Susan Fish
Council members unanimously approved a motion to hire NCO Financial Systems of New Bern, N.C., an outside collection company, to go after businesses who haven’t yet renewed their Macon, GA business licenses. More...
January 23, 2012
Columbia, MO
Columbia Repeals Special Business License Tax
By: Bluma Indich
Downtown businesses were relieved to hear that the special tax they’ve been paying for years as part of their Columbia, MO business license fees, was repealed by council members last Tuesday, January 17, 2012. More...
January 20, 2012
Ayer, MA
Ayer Town Board Discusses Closure of Unlicensed Businesses
By: Susan Fish
Two town eateries have been operating this year without obtaining the necessary Ayer, MA victualler's licenses. Town selectmen discussed possible action that could be taken by the town to enforce the restaurants’ compliance with Ayer business license regulations. More...
January 19, 2012
Murray, KY
Murray Simplifies Business License Rates
By: Bluma Indich
In an effort to create a more business friendly environment, city officials voted last week to reduce the number of Murray, KY business license categories from 224 to 22. Business owners can now look for a more simplified business license fee structure that will be based on much fewer categories. More...
January 19, 2012
Paducah, KY
City Withholds Money from Unlicensed Artists
By: Susan Fish
The City of Paducah has withheld payment in the total amount of $1,875 for artwork sold by artists who hadn’t obtained a Paducah, KY business license before selling their wares at The Affordable Art Show. More...
January 18, 2012
Pueblo, CO
Food Charity Operating with Incorrect Business License for 13 Years
By: Susan Fish
When the director of The Cooperative Care Center of Pueblo went to renew the food charity’s annual Pueblo, CO business license, he was told that the business license they’ve received for the past 13 years isn’t the correct one that must be filed for their food distribution operation. More...
January 18, 2012
Toccoa, GA
Toccoa Delays Business License Changes
By: Bluma Indich
City officials have agreed to put on hold until next year any changes to the Toccoa, GA business license fee schedule. More...
January 17, 2012
Braselton, GA
Braselton Fines Business License Dodgers $500
By: Bluma Indich
49 local businesses were fined an additional $500 for failing to pay their Braselton, GA business occupational taxes by December 31, 2011. Braselton, GA business license fees were due by Nov. 15. After warning incompliant businesses in person about the consequences of filing late, town officials informed the businesses about the $500 fine that must now be paid in addition to business license taxes. More...
January 17, 2012
Dekalb, GA
Dekalb Institutes New Rental Business License Regulations
By: Alan Silver
Business licensing will be getting a bit more complicated for rental owners this January. Together with their Dekalb, GA business license renewal forms, rental owners will receive a letter informing them of the new regulations in place necessary to qualify for the county rental business license. More...
January 16, 2012
Layton, UT
Layton Amends Business License Ordinance
By: Alan Silver
Council members have amended the current Layton, UT business license ordinance by dividing the mobile business license into six different categories. Regulations and fees will vary dependent on the category a business falls into. More...
January 12, 2012
Lake Havasu, AZ
Lake Havasu to Change Business License Renewal Date
By: Bluma Indich
Council members will vote on an initiative that is aimed at changing the date for Lake Havasu, AZ business license renewals. While currently local businesses are required to renew their business licenses on the anniversary of the date of their original filing, council members would like to change that to one date so that all the business license renewals happen at the same time. More...
January 11, 2012
Moreno Valley, CA
Take Advantage of Moreno Valley’s Business License Amnesty Program
By: Bluma Indich
Moreno Valley’s business license amnesty program expires at the end of this month. The program, which had been aimed at getting unlicensed businesses to come into compliance has worked up to a point. More...
January 11, 2012
Thomasville, GA
Unlicensed Business Owner Caught Selling Drugs
By: Susan Fish
Police raided the home of 63 year old, Doll Armstrong, after being tipped off of illegal activity taking place in the home. Doll had been selling snacks and drinks out of a bedroom in her house on 329 Law Street without obtaining a Thomasville, GA business license. More...
January 10, 2012
Sedona, AZ
Sedona Extends Business License Requirement
By: Bluma Indich
One year after Sedona Council members instituted a business license ordinance that requires of all businesses paying sales tax to obtain a Sedona, AZ business license, the council voted to extend that business license requirement to all local businesses. More...
January 10, 2012
Atlanta, GA
Unlicensed Business Owners Arrested in Atlanta
By: Susan Fish
Police have arrested the owners of an unlicensed home bar that had been operating without both a Georgia liquor license and an Atlanta, GA business license. More...
January 9, 2012
Washington Officials Propose Streamlining Local Business Licenses
By: Bluma Indich
Washington State officials are proposing easing the business license process by eliminating the need for multiple business license filings for individual towns and cities. More...
January 9, 2012
Montgomery, AL
Delinquent Business License Payers to Face Hearing in Montgomery City
By: Alan Silver
Business owners who have failed to renew their Montgomery, AL business licenses and haven’t paid the accompanying business license taxes will now be subject to a show-case hearing by the city during which they will have to explain their inaction. More...
January 5, 2012
Belton, SC
Non-Profits can Now Obtain Free Belton Business Licenses
By: Susan Fish
Council members have passed an order Tuesday, January 3, 2012, that will allow for non-profit organizations to obtain free Belton, SC event business licenses. More...
January 4, 2012
Dewey Beach, DE
Dewey’s Audit Expected to Generate Thousands in Business License Revenue
By: Alan Silver
A recent audit conducted in the Town of Dewey Beach has revealed a large gap in the amount of rooms rented by residents and the actual number of licensed home rentals. With the town’s budget in a tight fix, town finance director and acting town manager Bill Brown has warned residents of the intentions of the town in pursuing the collection of business license fees from unlicensed home rentals. More...
January 4, 2012
Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Streamlines Business License Process
By: Bluma Indich
In an attempt to benefit the greater business community, Las Vegas city officials have streamlined the business licensing process. Business owners can now expect to get their Las Vegas, NV business license in a little over a week, a huge improvement over the previous month it used to take to get a local business license. More...
January 3, 2012
Pratville, AL
Prattville to go After Unlicensed Businesses
By: Bluma Indich
Prattville Mayor Bill Gillespie Jr. has released a warning to all local business owners of his intention to go after unlicensed businesses. His warning is aimed at owners of home-based businesses, many of whom run under the radar of city regulations. More...
December 29, 2011
Rainsville, AL
Settlement Reached over Rainsville Privilege License Dispute
By: Susan Fish
Rainsville City Council and DeKalb-Cherokee Gas District have reached an agreement regarding the payment of the gas company’s privilege license taxes. What began as a disagreement in 2010 morphed into a financial conflict that involved millions of dollars in privilege license fees. More...
December 28, 2011
Fergus Falls, MN
Unlicensed Cab Service Owner puts Drivers in Danger
By: Susan Fish
Bob Bergh, the owner of Drivers On Call has put his drivers in danger of receiving fines and/or serving prison time because he has refused to follow through on all the requirements necessary for obtaining a Fergus Falls, MN business license. More...
December 27, 2011
Roseville, CA
Unlicensed Business Owner Arrested in Roseville
By: Susan Fish
Police arrested Michele Walden, 45 for allegedly buying and selling scrap metals without obtaining a Roseville, CA business license. The arrest comes as part of a greater effort by police officers to stop the theft of scrap metals in Roseville. More...
December 21, 2011
Tucson, AZ
Tucson Collects Millions from Business License Dodgers
By: Susan Fish
Business License dodgers have paid over $5 million to the City of Tucson over the past two years in payment of unpaid business license fees and sales tax. More...
December 20, 2011
Florence, SC
Florence Officials Try to Crack Down on Unlicensed Yard Sales
By: Bluma Indich
Council members, last week, granted their approval to the first reading of an ordinance that would increase regulations in place for yard sales. City officials feel that residents are ignoring the current Florence, SC business license regulations for yard sales by conducting these sales without bothering to obtain the necessary business licenses. More...
December 19, 2011
Milford, MA
Incorrect Filing Details Leads to Loss of Business License
By: Susan Fish
GV Auto Sales lost their Milford, MA business license last week for inserting untrue information into their business license application. Town officials have discovered that the person who owns the used car dealership is different than the one given as the owner of the car shop on the business license forms. More...
December 15, 2011
Berea, KY
Berea Steps up Measures To Keep Track of Business Licenses
By: Susan Fish
In an effort to ensure that all local businesses comply with business licensing regulations, Berea city officials have voted to institute a new business license tracking system. More...
December 14, 2011
Summit, UT
Summit County Officials Agree to Increase Business License Fees
By: Bluma Indich
County council members voted last week in approval of the first increase to Summit, UT business license fees since 2004. At the same time council members agreed to lower business license fees for eligible county events. More...
December 14, 2011
Fayetteville, NC
Fayetteville Aggressively Pursues the Collection of Business License Fees
By: Alan Silver
City officials have taken strong measures in their efforts to collect unpaid Fayetteville, NC business license fees from business license dodgers. After warning business owners about the city’s intention to take every step necessary in ensuring business license compliance, city officials seized the property of two local business license dodgers last month. More...
December 13, 2011
Vienna, VA
Police Summons Business Owner for Failing to Pay Meals Tax
By: Susan Fish
Michael Paul Willis, the owner of Nielsen's Custard, received a summons from the police for being lax about paying Vienna, VA meals tax. He was charged with four class one misdemeanors for failing to pay the meals tax from July to October 2011. More...
December 12, 2011
American Canyon, CA
American Canyon Cracks Down on Business License Scoffers
By: Bluma Indich
City officials have warned local businesses that they had better get their American Canyon business licenses by June 28 of next year or they will face a criminal complaint. More...
December 8, 2011
Forrest Hills, AR
Charges Pressed Against Operators of Unlicensed Business
By: Susan Fish
Tommy Neal,65, and Antonio Neal, 42 of Forrest City, AR were charged with a misdemeanor violation for selling alcohol without obtaining the necessary Forrest City, AR business licenses. More...
December 7, 2011
Half Moon Bay, CA
Unlicensed Bar Owner Faces Possible Prison Sentence
By: Susan Fish
Neighbors of the HMB Sports Bar and Grill in Half Moon Bay, CA were happy to learn that authorities have cracked down on the bar owner and are threatening him with prison time. Although complaints about the rowdiness of the bar’s patrons have increased over the past few months, the crime that would seal Samuel "Steve" Erlich, the bar owner’s prison sentence is the fact that he has not obtained the requisite Half Moon Bay, CA business licenses for keeping his operation open. More...
December 7, 2011
Half Moon Bay, CA
Unlicensed Bar Owner Faces Possible Prison Sentence
By: Susan Fish
Neighbors of the HMB Sports Bar and Grill in Half Moon Bay, CA were happy to learn that authorities have cracked down on the bar owner and are threatening him with prison time. Although complaints about the rowdiness of the bar’s patrons have increased over the past few months, the crime that would seal Samuel "Steve" Erlich, the bar owner’s prison sentence is the fact that he has not obtained the requisite Half Moon Bay, CA business licenses for keeping his operation open. More...
December 7, 2011
Half Moon Bay, CA
Unlicensed Bar Owner Faces Possible Prison Sentence
By: Susan Fish
Neighbors of the HMB Sports Bar and Grill in Half Moon Bay, CA were happy to learn that authorities have cracked down on the bar owner and are threatening him with prison time. Although complaints about the rowdiness of the bar’s patrons have increased over the past few months, the crime that would seal Samuel "Steve" Erlich, the bar owner’s, prison sentence is the fact that he has not obtained the requisite Half Moon Bay, CA business licenses for keeping his bar open. More...
November 23, 2011
Rockford, IL
Business License Fees on the Rise Again in Rockford, IL
By: Bluma Indich
City aldermen are looking for ways to generate funds to fill a huge gap in the 2012 proposed budget. Amongst other suggestions for fee increases, city officials are hoping to impose an increase on Rockford, IL business license fees. More...
November 22, 2011
Orange Beach, AL
Orange Beach Condo License Fees Increased
By: Bluma Indich
More people, greater traffic, further upkeep equals higher costs, declared city council members last week when they raised Orange Beach, AL condo business license fees from $85 to $130 for next fiscal year. More...
November 21, 2011
Clark, CA
Clark County Cracks Down on Unlicensed Businesses
By: Bluma Indich
Clark County Commissioners are working out a way to weed out unlicensed businesses. They have found that while most businesses follow the necessary procedure of obtaining a city business license, many of them are unaware of the necessity of obtaining a county business license. More...
November 18, 2011
Madison, VA
Madison County Imposes New Business License Fee
By: Bluma Indich
County supervisors have approved an ordinance that would tack on an extra $30 to county business owners’ expenses. Beginning January 1, 2012 business owners will be required to obtain a Madison, VA business license and pay a $30 fee for the license. More...
November 16, 2011
Sedro-Wooley, WA
Frustration Expressed at Sharp Increase of Sedro-Woolley Alcohol License Fees
By: Susan Fish
Restaurant and bar owners have expressed frustration at the sharp increase of Sedro-Woolley, WA alcohol license fees. The business license fees were stepped up by more than 85% from a $35 annual fee to $250. More...
November 15, 2011
Bethleham, GA
Unlicensed Personal Home Care Operator Abandons Charges
By: Susan Fish
Relatives of four mentally unstable adults were horrified to discover that the four men were abandoned by their personal home care operators in an empty house. Further investigation uncovered that Marlo Kenneth Yarbrough, the owner of the home care, had abandoned his charges when questioned by the police as to why he was caring for adults without obtaining a necessary Bethlehem, GA business license. More...
November 14, 2011
Richmond, KY
Richmond Raises the Bar on Doing Business without a License
By: Alan Silver
City commissioners discussed the possibility of raising the bar on individuals who conduct business in the city without obtaining a Richmond, KY business license. More...
November 11, 2011
Lake Elsinore, CA
Lake Elsinore Grants Business License Fee Waivers
By: Bluma Indich
Lake Elsinore council members voted on Tuesday, November 8, to forego the collection of business license fees on all new business license applications and business license renewals that are submitted from now through January 31, 2012. More...
November 9, 2011
Residents in 2 California Cities Vote to Increase Business License Fees
By: Bluma Indich
Residents of both Redwood City and Hermosa Beach City voted to increase local business license fees yesterday, Tuesday, November 8, 2011. Both increases come after months of effort on the part of council members. More...
November 8, 2011
Galesburg, IL
Galesburg May Soon Institute a Business License Ordinance
By: Bluma Indich
City officials are discussing the possibility of requiring business licenses from all Galesburg business owners. While the business license system would generate funds for the city, an estimated $50,000 annually, money won’t be the main reason for passing this ordinance. City officials feel that requiring a Galesburg, IL business license from every local business would give them a means of keeping tabs on the city’s businesses. More...
November 7, 2011
Henry, GA
Henry County Fines Unlicensed Business, $14,039
By: Susan Fish
Henry County authorities have discovered that Premier K-9, an animal training and kennel services company, had been conducting business with a revoked business license as well as without a breeder’s permit. More...
November 3, 2011
Alabama Business License Renewals Extended to November 30
By: Bluma Indich
The Alabama State Commissioner ordered a month-long extension on all state and county business license renewals. Regulations put in place by Alabama’s new immigration law made filing for an Alabama business license just a bit harder this year. More...
November 2, 2011
Fairbanks, AK
Large Companies may Face Increased Business License Fees in Fairbanks
By: Bluma Indich
Following in the footsteps of President Obama’s ‘Buffet Rule,’ Fairbanks council members have proposed increasing the business license fees charged to ‘the rich.’ More...
November 1, 2011
South Carolina
Will South Carolina’s Illegal Immigration Act Prevail?
By: Alan Silver
The Obama Administration and the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against South Carolina yesterday as part of their effort to stop the trend of state action against illegal immigration. More...
October 31, 2011
Sanger, CA
Sanger, CA Launches Business License Amnesty Program
By: Bluma Indich
The Sanger CA business license amnesty program is a gamble that council members felt would pay off when they voted to forego the collection of old unpaid business license fees as long as business owners comply with certain regulations. More...
October 25, 2011
Philadelphia, PA
Businesses may save on Licensing Fees in Philadelphia
By: Susan Fish
City Councilman James Kenney has proposed a plan that could save businesses thousands of dollars in business license fees and business privilege taxes. More...
October 24, 2011
Buckeye, AZ
Buckeye may Increase Business License Fees
By: Bluma Indich
Town council members spent some time at a study session last week reviewing Buckeye, Arizona’s business license fees. They then agreed to vote next Tuesday, November 1, 2011 over whether or not to increase the cost for obtaining a local business license. More...
October 11, 2011
Fairbanks, AK
Master Operator’s License up for Discussion in Fairbanks
By: Bluma Indich
Fairbanks Council members will meet tomorrow to discuss the possibility of requiring a Master Operator’s license from towing companies who wish to provide services to the city. This would be in addition to the already required Fairbanks, AK business license. More...
October 10, 2011
Menifee, CA
Business Licenses now Required in Menifee, CA
By: Alan Silver
City officials announced the beginning of the Menifee, CA business licensing program last week. All local businesses will now have to apply for a Menifee business license in order to be allowed to conduct business in the city. More...
October 6, 2011
Oakland, CA
Oakland Expands Business License Ordinance
By: Bluma Indich
Council members voted on Tuesday to extend the Oakland, CA business license ordinance to allow for the sale of homegrown fruits and vegetables. More...
October 4, 2011
Morgan, UT
Morgan County Speeds Temporary Use Permit Process
By: Bluma Indich
In an effort to ease the licensing process for local business, county officials added an amendment to the Morgan, UT temporary use permit ordinance last week. More...
October 3, 2011
Madison, AL
Alabama Immigration Ruling Causes Madison County Business License Backlog
By: Alan Silver
A federal judge upheld most of the sections of Alabama’s far-reaching immigration law that had been challenged by the Obama administration last Wednesday. Madison County, Alabama was quick to feel the effects of the law as business owners scrambled to renew their Madison, AL business licenses in time of Friday’s cutoff date. More...
September 28, 2011
Vancouver, WA
Vancouver Council Candidate Caught Operating Unlicensed Business
By: Susan Fish
Local residents were shocked when they learned that the Republican candidate for the city council seat has been operating a business for 11 years without obtaining a Vancouver, WA business license. More...
September 27, 2011
St. Anthony, ID
St. Anthony Council Passes Business License Ordinance
By: Bluma Indich
Council members passed an ordinance last Thursday to institute a St. Anthony, ID business license. More...
September 26, 2011
Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg may Increase Business License Fees
By: Bluma Indich
Village board members will meet tomorrow to discuss the possibility of raising Schaumburg, IL business license fees. More...
September 22, 2011
San Juan Capistrano, CA
Illegal Immigration and Business Licenses under Discussion in San Juan
By: Susan Fish
Councilman Derek Reeve proposed an ordinance Tuesday night intended at curbing the hiring of illegal workers. He followed in the footsteps of other states and localities by suggesting the suspension of business licenses from those who knowingly employ illegal immigrants. More...
September 21, 2011
Gresham, OR
Free Business Licenses Offered in Gresham, OR
By: Susan Fish
Too many business expenses coupled with too few sales have caused business owners across the nation to close shop. Sadly, many cheerful displays on storefronts remain dark and barren as the downward cycle of our economy continues its decline. More...
September 20, 2011
San Juan Capistrano, CA
Take Advantage of San Juan Capistrano’s Business License Amnesty Program
By: Bluma Indich
The city is urging business owners to take advantage of the San Juan Capistrano business license amnesty program. Unlicensed businesses can now register with the city without being subject to penalties and fines. More...
September 19, 2011
Corvallis City may Impose Business License Fees
By: Bluma Indich
As part of a greater effort to bridge the $1 million gap in city revenue for next calendar year, council members have discussed instituting a Corvallis, OR business license tax. More...
September 15, 2011
Moreno Valley, CA
It’s Time for Moreno Valley Businesses to come into Compliance
By: Bluma Indich
Any local unlicensed business will be able to come into compliance with Moreno Valley, CA business license regulations without owing up to past penalties and fines. More...
September 14, 2011
Oceanside, CA
Oceanside may Cut Business License Administrative Fees
By: Alan Silver
Since 2003, Oceanside has charged registering businesses a business license tax and an administrative fee for processing paperwork. The business license tax is based on the gross income of each company, of which the city charges a minimum of $50 on top of the $50 flat rate administrative fee. More...
September 13, 2011
Union, MO
Union Cracks Down on Unlicensed Businesses
By: Susan Fish
Four local businesses who have not yet applied for their Union, MO business license renewals may soon land up in court. More...
September 12, 2011
Long Beach, CA
Long Beach Lowers Business License Fees
By: Bluma Indich
Council members voted last week to approve a motion that would lower Long Beach CA conditional use permit fees. The proposal was first mentioned by Council Member Patrick O’Donnell in May of this year. More...
September 8, 2011
West Virginia
SOS Threatens Thousands of WV Business Licenses
By: Alan Silver
Thousands of business owners could lose their West Virginia business licenses if they don’t file their annual reports soon. More...
September 8, 2011
Salt Lake, UT
Salt Lake Tightens Landlord Business License Regulations
By: Bluma Indich
It will now be a bit tougher, or more expensive, for landlords to obtain Salt Lake City business licenses. More...
September 7, 2011
Susanville, CA
Susanville Officials to Decide on Mobile Vendor License
By: Susan Fish
Susanville council members will discuss the city’s regulations pertaining to mobile vendors licenses tonight. More...
September 6, 2011
Flagler, CA
Flagler County Officers Arrest Unlicensed Peddlers
By: Susan Fish
Police officers arrested two non-residents for peddling goods door-to-door without obtaining either a Palm Coast, FL business license or a Flagler County business license. More...
September 5, 2011
Summit, UT
Eight Unlicensed Salespeople Arrested in Summit County
By: Susan Fish
Eight African-American salespeople were arrested in Jeremy Ranch last week for neglecting to obtain both Park City, UT business licenses and Summit County, UT business licenses. More...
September 2, 2011
Santa Fe, CA
Santa Fe Imposes Precious Metals Dealers License Regulations
By: Bluma Indich
With the value of precious metals rising, people are cashing in on what used to be worthless junk, such as catalytic converters and old tables. Santa Fe has joined countless authorities across the U.S. in imposing regulations on the sales of precious metals in order to discourage theft of these substances. More...
September 1, 2011
Summit, CO
Summit County Cracks down on Unlicensed Home Rentals
By: Bluma Indich
Many homeowners have turned to short-term rentals as a way of earning quick cash. Since this undertaking is largely a secondary income, most residents have neglected the necessary steps of applying for a local business license and paying business license taxes in order to legalize the venture. As such, government offices nationwide are losing out on the tax income associated with short-term rentals. More...
September 1, 2011
August 31, 2011
Elgin, IL
Elgin Postpones Business License Changes
By: Susan Fish
Attempts by local business owners at convincing council members to repeal the Elgin, IL business license ordinance has met with little success. Although city officials discussed the business license ordinance at a council meeting last week, they decided to hold off on any possible changes until January of next year. More...
August 30, 2011
San Bernardino, CA
San Bernardino Councilman Found to be Operating Unlicensed Business
By: Susan Fish
Business license regulations can be so complicated that even a city councilman didn’t get them right. Councilman Fred Shorett had been operating a home business doing commercial printing and packaging for four years without obtaining the necessary San Bernardino, CA business license. More...
August 29, 2011
Moultrie, GA
Four Unlicensed Salesmen Charged in Moultrie
By: Susan Fish
Police charged four Secure Watch salesmen for conducting sales in town without acquiring the necessary Moultrie, GA business licenses. More...
August 26, 2011
Vadnais Heights, MN
Vadnais Heights Council Fines Unlicensed Business
By: Susan Fish
Complaints by Labore Road residents of unsightly equipment on a neighboring property prompted an investigation by city officials. They discovered that an outside landscaping business had been storing equipment on a local property for over 15 years without obtaining the necessary Vadnais Heights, MN business license and complying with licensing regulations. More...
August 25, 2011
Long Branch, NJ
Long Branch may Increase Business License Regulations
By: Alan Silver
Getting a Long Branch, NJ mercantile license may get a bit more complicated and expensive. Health officials have suggested a step-up in police review of every applicant before granting a city business license. More...
August 24, 2011
Sunbury, PA
Sunbury Waives Business License Fees
By: Bluma Indich
Potential entrepreneurs often find starting a new business a daunting task. The myriad number of details involved in the setup combined with a need for funds to launch the enterprise often discourages even the toughest individuals. More...
August 23, 2011
Brawley, CA
Brawley City Delays Business License Increases
By: Bluma Indich
Council members unanimously voted to delay increasing Brawley, CA business license fees. More...
August 22, 2011
Phenix, AL
Phenix City to Charge Landlords Business License Fees
By: Bluma Indich
The capital improvement project planned by the Phenix city council comes with a hefty price tag; cash that city coffers do not have. Imposing a Phenix business license tax on landlords is just one way of raising funds to finance the multi-million dollar venture. More...
August 19, 2011
Fayetteville, NC
Fayetteville Auditor Collects Unknown Business License Fees
By: Susan Fish
Letters sent to local landlords this summer informing them of their obligation to pay current and past-due Fayetteville privilege license fees have set off a storm of protests within the city. More...
August 18, 2011
Crest Hill, IL
Opposition Voiced Against New Crest Hill Business License Ordinance
By: Susan Fish
A local business owner voiced his displeasure at the ordinance passed last month that would change the payment schedule for Crest Hill, IL business licenses. More...
August 17, 2011
Springdale, WA
Town Pays $34,227 in Business License Court Case Fees
By: Susan Fish
Town officials have been tied in a legal battle against a Muslim Sheik, Dawud Ahmad, for operating a homeless shelter without obtaining a Town of Springdale, WA business license. More...
August 16, 2011
Century, FL
Century to Drastically Increase Business License Tax Rates
By: Bluma Indich
Town officials proposed an ordinance yesterday that would more than double Century, FL business license rates. The town had until now been charging a standard $25 business tax rate to all local businesses. More...
August 16, 2011
August 16, 2011
August 15, 2011
Palo Alto, CA
Palo Alto Police Arrest Unlicensed Tennis Instructor
By: Susan Fish
Police arrested Song Jian Wu last week for teaching a tennis class without acquiring the necessary Palo Alto business permit. More...
August 12, 2011
Newport, OR
Newport Cracks Down on Unlicensed Businesses
By: Susan Fish
Newport, OR business license fees were due by July 1. After giving a month for local businesses to come into compliance on their own, Community Service Officer Dustin Kittel has set out to enforce payment of licensing fees by unlicensed businesses. More...
August 11, 2011
Augusta, GA
Augusta may Increase Alcohol License Fees
By: Bluma Indich
The motion to increase Augusta, GA alcohol license fees that was dismissed last year may be revived again. The proposed 10 percent increase to the already swollen license fees would bring in an additional $100,000 of revenue to city coffers. More...
August 11, 2011
Kinloch, MO
Unlicensed Business is part of Kinloch Corruption Scandal
By: Susan Fish
A corruption scandal in the dying, impoverished community of Kinloch morphed into more than just the arrest of the city mayor to involve aldermen’s rent free housing, unlicensed businesses, and exorbitant salaries for city workers. More...
August 11, 2011
Santa Monica, CA
Santa Monica Tour Bus Company Operates without PUC License
By: Susan Fish
City Sights LA, an offshoot of the popular City Sights NY has been offering sightseeing tours to visiting tourists without receiving a Santa Monica PUC License. City officials say that the Santa Monica, CA business license retained by City Sights LA is worthless unless the company acquires the necessary PUC license. More...
August 10, 2011
Chicago, IL
Illinois Officials Enforce Dairy License Regulations
By: Bluma Indich
Kris Swanberg, owner of Nice Cream, never heard of the Illinois dairy license when she began selling ice cream a few years ago. She followed the accepted procedure and applied for a Chicago, IL business license, filled out the correct forms, paid her fees and began selling an original recipe of frozen ice cream. More...
August 10, 2011
Berlin, MD
Berlin Legislatures Propose Instituting Landlord License
By: Bluma Indich
At a council meeting last month, town leaders proposed instituting an ordinance that would mandate the purchase of a special landlord license by all town landlords, instead of the currently required general Berlin business license. More...
August 10, 2011
Fair Grove, MO
Fair Grove: Swap Meet Vendors must Obtain Temporary Business Licenses
By: Bluma Indich
Franklin Hodges' plan to create a local swap meet has met with unanimous approval by the Fair Grove Board of Aldermen. More...
August 10, 2011
Fair Grove, MO
Fair Grove: Swap Meet Vendors must Obtain Temporary Business Licenses
By: Bluma Indich
Franklin Hodges' plan to create a local swap meet has met with unanimous approval by the Fair Grove Board of Aldermen. More...
August 10, 2011
Springfield, IL
Springfield Proposes New Scrap Dealer License Regulations
By: Bluma Indich
With the value of the U.S. dollar falling and the price of metal increasing, scrap metal theft has become a real issue in many cities nationwide. In an effort to try and combat the rising instances of scrap metal theft, Springfield alderman have proposed imposing stricter regulations on scrap dealer business licenses. More...
August 10, 2011
Billings, MT
Ambulance Service Operator continues to Fight for Billings Business License
By: Susan Fish
Keith Harbour, the owner of Sleeping Giant Ambulance LLC, is determined to find a way to legally operate his ambulance service in Billings. After being denied an ambulance business license by the city, Harbour applied for a temporary general Billings business license in order to be allowed to provide service to non-emergency patients in the city. More...
August 9, 2011
Seabrook, SC
Seabrook Basket Maker Defies Business License Regulations
By: Susan Fish
Lillian Huger has been selling handcrafted sweetgrass baskets at the Bohicket Marina and Market this summer. As required by local regulations, Nick MacPherson, a partner at Bohicket Marina and the on-site manager, asked Huger to obtain a Seabrook, SC business license in order to legalize her sales. More...
August 9, 2011
Carson, NV
Carson Board to Vote on Changes to Business License Regulations
By: Bluma Indich
In an effort to promote the safety of local residents, the Board of Supervisors will vote on possible changes to Carson business license regulations. More...
August 9, 2011
Summit, KY
Boyd County Shuts Down Unlicensed Pain Clinic
By: Susan Fish
Teresa Stout of Ironton, OH traveled 300 miles to Summit, KY to open a pain clinic. Ironically, she chose to set up her unlicensed clinic next door to BWH Security whose CEO, Scott Ball, also hold the Deputy position for Boyd County. Ball was surprised at the opening of this type of Doctor’s office, as pain clinics are generally not allowed in Boyd County. More...
August 9, 2011
Alaska: General Pawnbroker License Application now Available
By: Alan Silver
Alaskan legislatures have now made available the general pawnbroker license application which must be filled out and filed by all state pawnbrokers by December 31, 2011. This is in addition to the Alaska business license which has always been required of local pawnbrokers. More...
August 8, 2011
Virgin Islands
Virgin Island Eases Business Licensing Process
By: Alan Silver
The Senate Committee voted on Thursday to do away with the requirement of obtaining a tax clearance letter before receiving either a new Virgin Island business license or a VI business license renewal. More...
August 8, 2011
James Island, SC
Town of James Island Business Licenses now Handled by Charleston County
By: Bluma Indich
The South Carolina Supreme Court decision on June 20, 2011 that the Town of James Island is unconstitutional has forced the town council to stop all services provided to residents and businesses alike. More...
August 8, 2011
Sonora, CA
Sonora may waive some Business License Fees
By: Bluma Indich
Empty storefronts line commercial strips in Sonora, California. In response, city leaders have been looking for ways to boost the local economy and start the upward financial spiral. They have discussed instituting a Business Incentives Program as a means of attracting industries to choose Sonora as their preferred business headquarters. More...
August 8, 2011
St. Louis, MO
St. Louis: Convenience Store to Lose Business License
By: Susan Fish
Local police want to revoke the St. Louis, MO business license from Kenney's Food Shop after discovering that the owner has been violating licensing regulations by selling drugs in his convenience store. More...
August 8, 2011
Aurora, IL
Authorities Remove 4 Biological Children from Unlicensed Daycare Provider after Deathly Incident
By: Bluma Indich
Two-year-old Abigail Holland was found floating face-down in the backyard swimming pool of the home daycare facility she attended. The daycare did not have either an Aurora, IL business license or a state day care license. More...
August 8, 2011
Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles Police Arrest Owner of Unlicensed Business
By: Susan Fish
Prosecutors arrested three people on Wednesday in an undercover investigation on a dairy farm and the farmers market associated with it, both of which do not have state or local business licenses. More...
August 5, 2011
Black Mountain, NC
Black Mountain Privilege License Fee Hikes go into Effect
By: Bluma Indich
Black Mountain privilege license fee hikes went into effect last week, with town officials mailing notices to business owners to let them know about the increased costs in obtaining local business licenses. More...
August 5, 2011
Warrior, AL
Dewey Barber Chevrolet Requests Warrior Business License Discounts
By: Susan Fish
Representatives of Dewey Barber Chevrolet requested a discount on their Warrior, AL business license fees, in addition to requesting a sales tax abatement. With car sales on a decline, the dealer is looking for ways of lowering the costs involved in running their business. More...
August 5, 2011
Warrior, AL
Dewey Barber Chevrolet Requests Warrior Business License Discounts
By: Susan Fish
Representatives of Dewey Barber Chevrolet requested a discount on their Warrior, AL business license fees. With car sales on a decline, the dealer also requested a sales tax abatement in an effort to lower the costs of running their business. More...
August 4, 2011
Warner Robins, GA
Warner Robins: Dead Child was in Care of Unlicensed Day Care Center
By: Susan Fish
Andrew Calloway was in the care of Sister-n-Sister Family Home Day Care run by Shelia Henderson and Johnnie Mae Grayer, at the time of his death. Although the owners of the daycare do have a city of Warner Robins business license, they do not have a State of Georgia day care license for their facility. The negligence on the part of the two sisters running the daycare center led to the death of the 3-year-old toddler. More...
August 4, 2011
South Holland, IL
South Holland Creates Special Metals Dealer License
By: Bluma Indich
Village officials passed an ordinance on Monday that would mandate the purchase of a South Holland, IL business license by all local precious metals dealers. More...
August 4, 2011
Cottage Grove, IL
Cottage Grove Officials Revoke Individual’s Solicitors License
By: Susan Fish
Cottage Grove Board of Trustees revoked the solicitors license of a Southwestern Company salesman last week. The salespeople of Southwestern Company, a business selling an integrated learning system to families, are all college students who work independently and must acquire individual business licenses. More...
August 3, 2011
Fresno, CA
Fresno Officials Crack Down on Unlicensed Repair Shops
By: Susan Fish
City law enforcement officers spent two days last week pursuing auto repair shops who had been operating without a Fresno business license. Tommy Tran, an investigative reporter for ABC30, reports that numerous shops were found operating without an auto repair license or with an expired business license. More...
August 3, 2011
Morris, AL
Morris Cracks Down on Unlicensed Businesses
By: Bluma Indich
City officials will be on the lookout for businesses operating without Morris, AL business licenses. Council members discussed enforcing local business licenses as a way of generating more cash for the town. More...
August 3, 2011
Coralville, IA
Can a 4-Year-Old Apply for a Business License?
By: Susan Fish
Apparently she can. A law-enforcement officer shut down a makeshift lemonade stand run by a 4-year-old girl last Friday for making sales without a Coralville business license. More...
August 2, 2011
Fayetteville, AR
Fayetteville Launches Business License Program
By: Bluma Indich
City officials launched the Fayetteville business license program yesterday, August 1, 2011. Local businesses will have until October 31, 2011 to register for their business licenses before incurring late penalties. More...
August 2, 2011
Onancock, VA
Onancock Officials Retract Hot Dog Cart Vendor’s Business License
By: Susan Fish
After issuing an Onancock business license to Wayne Bal for three years, town officials suspended the license citing an existing zoning ordinance that does not allow hot dog carts to operate in the town. More...
August 2, 2011
Orangeburg, SC
No Business License Increases Planned for Orangeburg
By: Bluma Indich
City officials will review next year’s budget proposal at a council meeting today, August 2, 2011. Contrary to prior reports, the budget draft does not include increases on costs of obtaining Orangeburg business licenses. More...
August 2, 2011
Albany, NY
NY Legislatures Revoke Business Licenses of 8 Bus Companies
By: Susan Fish
In response to a number of fatal bus crashes, the NY Governor has decided to take action to try and prevent future mishaps. The State Department of Transportation passed a rule last week that would now allow state officials to revoke New York business licenses from transportation companies if they have failed past inspections. More...
August 1, 2011
Enumclaw, WA
Enumclaw Council Members Postpone Streamlining Business License Process
By: Bluma Indich
Council members voted last Monday to postpone voting on an ordinance that would transfer the Enumclaw business license process to the State. More...
August 1, 2011
Tulare, CA
Tulare City Taxi Service loses local Business License
By: Susan Fish
Council members have revoked the Tulare business license from United Cab Service, a local taxi company for not complying with business license regulations and not paying business license fees. More...
August 1, 2011
Berkeley Lake, GA
Berkeley Lake offers Tempting Business License Proposal to Unincorporated Peachtree Corners
By: Alan Silver
Businesses in the unincorporated Peachtree Corners have been requesting permission from Gwinnet County to create a city. Neighboring cities are trying to tempt the area to consider annexation before trying to create their own city. More...
August 1, 2011
Lewiston, ME
Will Landlords need to get Business Licenses in Lewiston?
By: Alan Silver
Some landlords look at housing rental as a miraculous money tree that doesn’t require sun or water for nourishment. They expect tenants to pay the rent on time each month, but if something goes wrong in the apartment that requires an input of cash by the landlord, every excuse in the book will be played out before the landlord agrees to pay. Since most of the landlords operate under the shade of LLC’s and corporations, city officials don’t know who to penalize for housing building infractions. More...
August 1, 2011
Evesham, NJ
Evesham Council Members Disagree over New Business License Ordinance
By: Bluma Indich
A controversial Evesham business license ordinance aimed at requiring an additional license for second-hand shops received much criticism from town officials at a council meeting last week. More...
August 1, 2011
Crossville, TN
Crossville may Require Business Permits at Yard Sales
By: Bluma Indich
Council members have approved the first reading of an ordinance that would require the purchase of a Crossville business permit by residents conducting yard sales. The explosion of home sales has prompted city officials to propose setting more governmental supervision on vendors conducting yard sales. More...
August 1, 2011
Redding, CA
Redding Officials Retract Concession License Issued to Local Entrepreneur
By: Susan Fish
An unemployed couple is incensed over the City of Redding’s retraction of their concession license which is necessary for the operation of their ice cream vending business. More...
July 29, 2011
Libertyville, IL
Libertyville may Institute Business License Program
By: Bluma Indich
Libertyville officials are considering instituting a business license program in the village in order to track local businesses’ information. Although there would be a charge associated with the Libertyville business licenses, Patch explains that the costs won’t be excessive as village officials aren’t looking at the licensing program as a source of generating more cash. More...
July 28, 2011
Columbus, OH
Columbus Officials Cracking Down on Unlicensed Vendors
By: Susan Fish
City officials have decided to pursue individuals who are selling goods on public sidewalks without obtaining the necessary Columbus business permits. While most private vendors make sure to acquire the proper vendors permits before selling their wares, individuals operating under the umbrella of farmers markets have neglected the requirement of getting business permits. More...
July 28, 2011
Springfield, MO
Springfield Residents may Vote on E-Verify Program that would Affect Business Licenses
By: Alan Silver
A group of residents called Ozarks Minutemen filed a petition last week that would mandate the use of the government E-Verify system in the City of Springfield. If passed, violators of the petition could be fined up to $500 and risk losing their Springfield business licenses. More...
July 28, 2011
Chicago, IL
Chicago Residents Complain about Unlicensed Vendors
By: Bluma Indich
Residents living near Senka Park in the south side of Chicago have been complaining about vendors selling food in the park without acquiring the necessary Chicago business licenses. These vendors are violating basic Chicago food vendor license regulations by selling home-prepared food from dirty carts and leaving garbage remnants strewn over park areas. More...
July 28, 2011
Missouri Valley, IA
Missouri Valley Store may Lose Alcohol License
By: Susan Fish
Taylor Quik Pik store violated Iowa alcohol license regulations when a cashier sold whiskey to an intoxicated person last year. After leaving the store, the drunken man, Andrew Schlichtemeier, veered into oncoming traffic and killed 4 people. More...
July 27, 2011
Beaufort, SC
Beaufort Police Raid Unlicensed Massage Parlor
By: Susan Fish
Police raided a massage parlor last week that had been open without a Beaufort business license. Authorities got information leading to the unlicensed place from an unidentified source. More...
July 27, 2011
Rapid City, SD
Rapid City may Change Street Vendor Permit Ordinance
By: Susan Fish
With 10 out of the 12 available Rapid City street vendors’ permits purchased by one vendor, city officials are considering changing the current ordinance to accommodate more sales. More...
July 27, 2011
Tustin, CA
Get a Free Business License in Tustin, CA
By: Bluma Indich
In an atmosphere of difficult economic times, one city has chosen to help struggling businesses by removing licensing fees. Anyone applying for either new Tustin business licenses or Tustin business license renewals during the next local fiscal year can obtain their licenses for free. More...
July 26, 2011
Horry, SC
Horry County to Offer Business License Fee Incentives
By: Bluma Indich
Creating a business friendly environment was in the forefront of their minds when county officials signed a contract with Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp. last week. Amongst other ideas given, the consulting group suggested offering Horry business license fee incentives to new or expanding businesses. More...
July 26, 2011
Foley, AL
Foley City Officials cannot close Unlicensed Daycare Center
By: Susan Fish
Deborah Stokes, operator of Kids Space Daycare has found a loophole to legally run a children’s care center after being denied a Foley business license. More...
July 25, 2011
Houston, GA
Houston County Shelves Delinquent Taxes Requirement for City Business Licenses
By: Bluma Indich
For the past six months, officials on the Vision 2020 committee have discussed mandating the collection of delinquent Houston County taxes from business owners as a perquisite for obtaining local business licenses. More...
July 25, 2011
Oakland, CA
Oakland Residents Discuss Requirement of Conditional Use Permits for Urban Agriculture
By: Susan Fish
The strict regulations instituted by the Oakland zoning board this March caused much contention amongst local residents. Under the new policy, homeowners owning livestock or planting vegetable gardens would be forced to purchase costly Oakland conditional use permits. More...
July 25, 2011
Chicago, IL
Chicago, Business License Denied to Bike-Powered Pub Crawl
By: Susan Fish
The owners of a Minnesota-based bike-powered pub crawl company has not taken no as an answer to their request for a Chicago business permit. After city hall denied their application for a local business license, owners of PedalPub filed a petition at the county clerk’s office to overturn the city’s ruling. More...
July 20, 2011
Spartanburg, SC
Woman Arrested for Operating a Business without a Spartanburg Business License
By: Susan Fish
Police arrested Shannon Neelands Emory for keeping her shop, Carolina Gallery, open without a Spartanburg business license. More...
July 20, 2011
Montgomery, PA
Montgomery County sets Farmers Market Business License Regulations
By: Bluma Indich
After much discussion between county officials and farmer market operators, guidelines for which vendors require a Montgomery business license have been set. More...
July 20, 2011
Bristol, RI
Bristol Council Refuses to Grant Victualing License to Violator of Local Business License Regulations
By: Susan Fish
Council members have refused to grant a victualing license to a local business owner despite his repeated requests for one. City officials claim that Shabbir Baig the owner of the Midland Farms store has repeatedly violated Bristol business license regulations and they don’t trust him with a victualing license. More...
July 20, 2011
Washoe, NV
Washoe County to Offer Regional Business License
By: Alan Silver
Northern Nevada legislatures are planning on creating a regional business license that would combine business license application for Washoe County and Reno and Sparks Cities. Business owners who do business in both cities would be able to apply at their home office for a regional business license that would cover licensing requirements for both cities and the county. More...
July 19, 2011
Hawthorne, CA
Hawthorne Officials Evict Unlicensed Food Trucks
By: Susan Fish
City officials evicted mobile food vendors last week from an unregistered food event for not carrying the proper Hawthorne business licenses. More...
July 19, 2011
Southern Nevada to Set Up Multi-Jurisdiction Business License
By: Alan Silver
Nevada legislatures passed an ordinance that calls for the creation of a unified contractors business license across parts of Southern Nevada. Contractors would be able to apply for one business license that would cover participating jurisdictions instead of having to apply for separate business licenses in each city. More...
July 19, 2011
Enumclaw, WA
Enumclaw may Streamline Business License Process
By: Bluma Indich
Council members discussed the possibility of expediting the Enumclaw business license process by combining the state and city business license applications. Business owners would only have to submit one business license form, but they would still be subject to both state and city approval. More...
July 19, 2011
Goshen, OH
Goshen Cuts Cost of Business Permits in Half
By: Bluma Indich
In an effort to attract businesses to open shop in their town, trustees voted to cut the cost of Goshen business permits from $200 to $100. More...
July 18, 2011
Midway, GA
Georgia Police Shut Down Girls’ Lemonade Stand for being Unlicensed
By: Susan Fish
Three teenagers who had opened a lemonade stand as a way of raising money for a trip to a water park were forced to shut down because they failed to obtain a Midway business license. More...
July 18, 2011
Redmond, OR
Redmond Ice Cream Vendors must now obtain a City Business License
By: Bluma Indich
According to the ordinance approved by council members last Tuesday, every local ice cream vendor will now be required to obtain a Redmond business license. More...
July 18, 2011
MillerCoors Must Stop Selling Beer in Minnesota because of Expired Alcohol License
By: Alan Silver
State officials informed MillerCoors that it must stop selling beer in Minnesota until they could apply for the necessary alcohol license. The Minnesota state shutdown halted all business license activity in the state for the past three weeks making obtaining any sort of business licenses an impossible feat. More...
July 18, 2011
Collegeville, PA
Court Upholds Judgments against Unlicensed Pennsylvania Business
By: Alan Silver
Donald Diehl, the owner of Don Diehl Reconditioning (DDR), an automobile refurbishing company in Collegeville, PA appealed a judgment imposed by the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County for failure to pay his Collegeville business license fees. More...
July 18, 2011
Texas, Proposal would Increase Pest Control Business License Fees by 57%
By: Alan Silver
The Texas Department of Agriculture has introduced a proposal that would increase pest control business license fees by 57%. More...
July 18, 2011
Crawford, CO
Crawford Trustees Follow-up on Business License Idea
By: Bluma Indich
Budget woes had let town trustees to discuss the possibility of instituting a Crawford business license ordinance as a way of garnering additional tax revenue, as detailed in an earlier post. However, at the June 15 work session, town officials decided that income from business license fees wouldn’t offset the cost of instituting the license system. More...
July 15, 2011
Plantation, FL
Plantation Considers Raising Business License Fees
By: Bluma Indich
City officials discussed the possibility of raising Plantation business license fees by 5% at a council meeting Wednesday night. The city is strapped for cash and by raising licensing fees, local businesses will help shoulder the cost of continuing to run city services. More...
July 15, 2011
Richmond, KY
Richmond may Penalize Unlicensed Businesses
By: Bluma Indich
Commissioners discussed rewriting the Richmond business license ordinance to include a penalty for unlicensed businesses. In addition to the $25 business license fee due to the city, local businesses are also required to pay a 2-percent net-profits tax to the city. More...
July 15, 2011
Vernon, CA
Disincorporation of Vernon would Result in Business License Freeze
By: Alan Silver
The many businesses located in the ‘exclusively industrial’ City of Vernon would be subject to a business licensing fee freeze for five years if the state goes through with the disincorporation of the city. More...
July 14, 2011
Fresno, CA
Fresno May Institute Peddlers Business License
By: Bluma Indich
Fresno City Council President Lee Brand is expected to propose an initiative that would require a peddlers business license from all door-to-door vendors and solicitors. More...
July 14, 2011
Hermosa Beach, CA
Voters to Decide between two Hermosa Beach Business License Increases
By: Bluma Indich
Council members approved an initiative that would place another Hermosa Beach business license increase suggestion on the November ballot. Local resident Jim Lissner had already collected the signatures necessary to put his business license fee increase proposal up for approval by voters. More...
July 14, 2011
Sandy Springs, GA
Sandy Springs Offers to Waive $75,000 in Business License Fees to Unknown Potential Business Resident
By: Susan Fish
Sandy Springs city council unanimously voted to waive $75,000 or two-years worth of business license fees, in addition to other monetary grants, as an incentive to an unknown international billionaire company if they transfer their U.S. place of operations to Sandy Springs. More...
July 14, 2011
Augusta, GA
Augusta to Conduct Business License Checks
By: Susan Fish
At a budget retreat last week, city officials discussed bringing in a bounty hunter to find businesses that haven’t been paying their Augusta business license fees. More...
July 14, 2011
Albuquerque, NM
Investigation Launched over Unlicensed Albuquerque Business
By: Bluma Indich
New Mexico Environment Department has launched an investigation into a biofuels company that has been operating in a residential area without a New Mexico business license. More...
July 13, 2011
Fredericksburg, VA
Fredericksburg City Council Grants Business License Incentive Packages to 2 Businesses
By: Bluma Indich
In attempt to gain the tax revenues of two potential new local businesses, Fredericksburg city council agreed to grant the enterprises business license tax waivers if they decide to open shop in their city. More...
July 13, 2011
Oceanside, CA
Oceanside Doubles Business License Fees
By: Susan Fish
Business owners applying for their 2011-2012 Oceanside business license renewals found that the city doubled the cost of business license fees. More...
July 13, 2011
Uah, UT
Utah County Anti-Immigration Group Trying to Promote Business License Penalization System
By: Alan Silver
A Utah County anti illegal immigration group is trying to promote an initiative that would punish businesses who hire illegal workers by revoking their Utah business licenses. More...
July 13, 2011
Nevada Legislatures to Ensure Licensing Compliance by all State Businesses
By: Alan Silver
A state audit has revealed that Nevada has been losing millions of dollars each year in business license fee revenue from businesses that either do not file for State of Nevada business licenses or who falsely claim an exemption from paying the license fees. More...
July 12, 2011
Minnesota Government Shutdown Affects Business Licensing Process
By: Alan Silver
The Minnesota government shutdown has impacted more than just government workers. Businesses across the state are now encountering difficulties with obtaining the necessary state business licenses/license renewals that would keep them from being shut down. More...
July 12, 2011
Orangeburg, SC
Orangeburg may Increase Business License Fees
By: Bluma Indich
To offset a budget deficit threat caused by state funding cuts, city officials will discuss the possibility of raising Orangeburg business license fees as a means of increasing city revenue. Some of the license fees haven’t been changed in over 20 years. More...
July 12, 2011
Santa Monica, CA
Santa Monica Fines Unlicensed Home Rentals
By: Susan Fish
Melissa Tarsky, a stay-at-home mom, received a fine of $650 for renting out rooms in her home without obtaining a Santa Monica business license. Although in the past, the city had turned a blind eye to private vacation rentals, numerous complaints by neighbors have prompted city officials to increase their attention in prosecuting unlicensed home rentals. More...
July 12, 2011
Indianapolis, IN
Indianapolis City Files Lawsuit against Unlicensed Motel
By: Susan Fish
City officials have filed a lawsuit against Traveler's Inn on the Far Southside for operating without a City of Indianapolis business license. By suing the hotel, the city hopes to recover approximately $250,000 of money spent by the police department to finance frequent law enforcement activity at the inn. More...
July 11, 2011
Louisiana Business Owners can lose their Licenses for Hiring Illegal Immigrants
By: Alan Silver
In the wake of recent action by state legislatures to combat the influx of illegal immigrants, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed a law last Thursday that threatens to revoke the Louisiana business license from anyone found employing illegal immigrants. More...
July 11, 2011
Chinatown, NY
Unlicensed ‘Vendor’ Arrested in New York
By: Susan Fish
A Buddhist nun, Baojing Li, was arrested last month for soliciting funds for her burned down temple without obtaining the requisite New York business license. Police officers found the nun handing out beads to donators and they charged her with selling jewelry without a vendors license. More...
July 11, 2011
Montgomery, AL
Montgomery: Delinquent Business License Fee Payers could Face Prison Time
By: Bluma Indich
With close to $2 million in delinquent Montgomery business license fees and sales taxes owed to the city, the Mayor has warned business owners to pay up or face serious repercussions. More...
July 8, 2011
Butte, CA
Butte County Convicts Two Brothers for doing Business without a License
By: Susan Fish
George and Kevin Snow were convicted yesterday for operating a paving business without state, county or city business licenses. More...