Plan would save 300 businesses money

Published 1:52 am Saturday, May 11, 2013

Three hundred businesses in Washington could see the fees they pay for business licenses decrease if the City Council includes a modified fee schedule in the 2013-2014 fiscal year budget.

Three businesses would pay more for business licenses (also known as privilege licenses) under the proposed fee schedule.

“That’s it — just three,” said Matt Rauschenbach, assistant city manager and the city’s chief financial officer, during discussion of the proposal.

That fee schedule has undergone modifications since City Manager Josh Kay first unveiled his recommended budget for the upcoming fiscal year several weeks ago.

During the council’s budget workshop Thursday, Mayor Archie Jennings called the proposed changes to the business-license fee schedule “groundbreaking” changes. In a nonbinding straw poll, the council unanimously voted to include the new fee schedule in the city’s next budget. However, until the council adopts the 2013-2014 budget, the proposed fee schedule remains just that, a proposed fee schedule. The council could adopt the 2013-2014 budget May 20 during a meeting scheduled for noon.

If the new fee schedule is implemented July 1, when the new fiscal year begins, the city will lose an estimated $318,547 because of the restructuring. Kay’s recommended budget for the upcoming fiscal year was developed with a business-license proposal that would have generated $367,447 in revenue. Under the latest proposed fee schedule, the city would generate $48,900 in revenues during the upcoming fiscal year.

To make up the $318,547 difference, the city will reduce general-fund expenses by about $90,000, increase revenues by about $45,000 and make other adjustments such as using installment financing to pay for some capital projects or purchases instead of paying cash.

Under the latest proposed fee schedule the following would occur:

• For a business with less than $5,000,000 in gross sales, a business license would cost $50.

• For a business with gross sales between $5,000,001 and $25 million, a business license would cost $1,000.

• For a business with gross sales in excess of $25,000,001, a business license would cost $5,000.

The maximum fee for any business is $5,000.

• Manufacturers are exempt from fees.

• Businesses providing services in several categories (retail, wholesale service) may combine the gross sales into one category and pay the respective fee.

Under the proposal, the fee for an Internet sweepstakes machine would be $1,000.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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