City adopts new business-license ordinance

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 30, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &8212; After a public hearing on Thursday, the city council voted on a new business license ordinance to become effective Jan. 1, 2008. After one representative from the community came to get clarification about how the ordinance would affect his specific business, the council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance.

The ordinance is a product of the Business License Reform Act of 2006, which was passed by the state legislature as a way to create a more uniform system of levying fees on business licenses.

One of the major changes from the previous ordinance, which was passed in 2002, is in the way businesses are categorized. Under the new ordinance, a person must apply for a license for each aspect of the business.

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Section 4, item B reads: &8220;Every person dealing in two or more of the articles, or engaging in two or more of the businesses, vocations, occupations or professions scheduled herein, shall take out and pay for a license for each line of business.&8221;

For some business owners, this may mean that they will have to apply and pay a fee for several licenses to run their business.

Mayor Cecil Williamson said, &8220;This is not to penalize the businesses, we want Demopolis to be known as a business-friendly place.&8221;

Under the reform act, each municipality is allowed to set the fee schedule for each kind of license. After months of working in the Finance Committee, the city council approved the ordinance, which included a specific fee schedule for all the businesses applying for a license to operate in the City of Demopolis.

Councilman Jack Cooley said, &8220;The categorizations were mandated by the state, and the fees are decided on by local municipalities.&8221;

There were several categorizations of businesses that were added to the new ordinance, including home health/hospice/physical therapy, private club membership, recycling, utilities, vending machines, waste grease and oil and a provision for unclassified businesses.

According to Revenue Clerk Linda Smith, some business license fees are assessed based on the gross sales per year, but if the business offers a service and does not deal with taxable goods, the fee is a flat rate determined by the ordinance.

In comparison to the previous business license ordinance, only 44 of the 132 business classifications&8217; fee rates remained the same. The remaining 88 classifications experienced an average of a 20 percent increase in fees.

Some classifications had an even higher increase, such as itinerant photographers, whose fee will be raised 200 percent from $50 to $150. The classification for an amusement device also went up 200 percent from $500 to $1,500 per machine.

Smith said all of the businesses will be sent notices in October of the changes so that they can be prepared for the upcoming changes. The new ordinance will go into effect for 2008.