An updated business license ordinance is expected to be on the agenda at the first Enterprise City Council meeting in September.
At an Enterprise City Council work session Aug. 3, Enterprise City Council President Turner Townsend said that the council had each received a proposed ordinance update at a work session July 15 and had given their individual feedback to staff members. “As long as everyone is in agreement, we will move forward with a draft ordinance to introduce at the first council meeting in September. That will give us three weeks of public review.”
The best means of updating the existing business license ordinance has been the topic of council discussion for years. The year 2007 was the last time there was an update in the business licenses fees.
That update was done to align the NAICS—North American Industry Classification System—Code with what was passed by the state regulators. No business license fees were changed.
Two proposed updated business license fee schedules were presented to the council for review by Enterprise Chief Revenue Officer Tracey Brown and Chief Financial Officer LeeAnn Swartz at a previous work session. At that time Townsend asked the council to review the proposals and said that the Enterprise Chamber of Commerce will be given a copy of the proposed updates to disseminate to membership in order to obtain stakeholder feedback prior to a vote on the issue.
A new business license structure cannot be implemented until Jan. 1, 2022, Townsend said, but it could be approved now so the revenue office can have the procedures in place.
A new business license fee had been discussed by the previous administration and after months of council discussion at work sessions, two public meetings were held at the Enterprise Civic Center Nov. 13, 2019 to obtain citizen input before drafting the first proposal which was introduced at the council meeting Nov. 20, 2019 and approved in December 2019.
The new business license fee structure was set to begin Jan. 1, 2019 but was put on hold for one year after a vote by the council at the Dec. 4, 2018 meeting. The council then introduced an amended license fee ordinance set to begin Jan. 1, 2020 and approved that resolution at the Dec. 18, 2018 meeting at the recommendation of then-Enterprise City Clerk/Treasurer Bob Dean.
Dean said at that time that an additional year would give the revenue department more time to process the changes, a project expected to take some 700 man hours to complete. “That is to clean up the current business licenses, come up with fresh data and correct a lot of the misclassifications that are in the system right now,” he said at that time. “We want to be able to come up with a clean slate.”
At the work session July 15, Swartz said that she was aware of the situation experienced by the previous council in attempting to implement the business license fee changes but had conferred with the Munis software provider. “I don’t have any doubt that this can be done with Munis,” Swartz said. “Implementation-wise this should be no problem. The escalator problem is not a problem any more.”
“With the change we could be more business friendly by updating the business license application,” Brown said, adding that streamlining the system would enable enhanced online applications.
“We have heard the complaints from the citizens about small businesses paying the same amount as big box stores. We wanted to try to even out the playing field across the board,” Brown said. “We wanted to make sure we took care of the small businesses and protect them and that everyone pays their fair share based on their gross receipts.”
The next voting meeting of the Enterprise City Council is Aug. 17 in the council chambers at the Enterprise City Hall. A work session begins at 5 p.m. A voting meeting begins at 6 p.m. Both meetings are open to the public.