558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
Business license talks should leave no stone unturned
October 01, 2012
Recently, Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe expressed an interest in pursuing a licensure requirement for local businesses.
For at least the past 30 years, the City of Prineville has not required a business license, even though longtime City Council Steve Uffelman said the idea has been considered by local government from time to time.
At this point, Roppe has not officially pursued a business license requirement, and the Council has not recently discussed the topic. However, now that the idea has been broached, the City might again take a serious look at the requirement.
We see no problem with them doing so, but we feel if they do that, they should examine the idea thoroughly before making any official proposal.
The greatest concern among Council members is that the cost of a business license would discourage private sector growth in Prineville. Depending on what they charge, businesses might consider locating elsewhere.
Perhaps the City should consider a business registry. This could keep processing costs minimal while creating a reliable listing. The City could also consider paying licensing expenses out of the City budget. While it passes the cost onto taxpayers, it could benefit the City as a whole because the lack of a fee might tip the scales for a company looking at Prineville versus another community.
Ultimately, the financial question comes down to whether the change is worth the benefit.
Roppe and Uffelman both pointed out that a license helps the City government and police department track who is doing business in town. This becomes especially useful in emergency situations. Without a license requirement, they don’t know how to reach some business owners, and there are other businesses they don’t even know exist in Prineville.
We agree that the City would benefit from some type of business registry complete with contact information. What they need to ask themselves however is whether a license requirement would deliver that information. If companies are coming to Prineville and operating a business without City or police knowledge, they could probably do so whether a license is required or not.
To be effective, the City would have to devote time and money to enforcing the business license requirement. This would bump up the cost, again raising the question of whether or not the requirement is worth it.
The other issue the City needs to carefully consider is whether or not the requirement would open the door for future administrations to treat the license requirement as a cash grab. While the current administration has no intentions of going that route, and would probably keep fees at a bare minimum, another Council might decide to raise fees and reap the benefit. Without the business license requirement, there would presumably be no fees to increase.
Whatever direction the City goes, business owners and local citizens are the ones who reap the benefits and incur the costs. Consequently, now is the time for people to get involved and voice your opinions and concerns.
Because the topic has not yet generated any official discussion, the public is in the unique position to weigh in early and help steer what the City ultimately decides.
If you believe the City should pursue a business license, raise your hand and say so. More importantly, offer suggestions on how to do it effectively. If you don’t want a business license, take the time to provide sound arguments against it.
Getting involved now will undoubtedly give the City a variety of viewpoints to draw from and will help them make a more informed decision that better represents the will of the people.