Council spares

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 25, 2007

real estate agents

By SAM R. HALL/The Demopolis Times

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Realtors who received a letter saying the city was assessing them a $305 business licensing fee do not have to pay, at least for now.

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Real estate agent Tammy Fendley represented more than 20 agents who filled the back of Rooster Hall last week in a show of solidarity against the fee. But the issue was quickly resolved when councilmen said the letter was mistakenly sent out.

The letter said that in addition to each broker operating in the city that individual real estate agents also had to purchase a business license. The fee schedule for the license was listed at $305.

Fendley compared the fee structure for agents to attorneys working for a firm or individual hair dressers at a salon, neither of whom are required to purchase individual business licenses.

Before the council declared the letter mistakenly sent, Fendley asked that if the fee was not waived that it be lowered. She provided comparisons to other area cities who charge a business license fee to real estate agents.

According to Fendley, the City of Linden charges $45, the City of Greensboro charges $30, the City of Selma charges $28 and the City of Livingston charges $55.

Councilman Jack Cooley said he researched the fee schedule and said the letter should have never been sent out. Cooley said that at one time the city charged real estate agents a business license fee of $125 per agent. In 2002, the fee schedule was changed, and the new schedule addressed only a $300 business licensing fee for brokers.

Councilman Woody Collins said the council had not other choice but to rescind the letter since it was a mistake.

The city is currently looking at a new business license fee schedule. It has been on the agenda for a month, but no action has been taken as the issue is still in committee.