558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
A license is not the way to help local businesses
December 10, 2012
Late last month, the Prineville City Council met for a special workshop to discuss the pros and cons of implementing a business license.
The main purpose in requiring licensure given by Councilors and law enforcement personnel was to create a more complete business directory in case of an emergency. If a building catches fire or somebody trips a burglary alarm for example, City officials and emergency personnel want a way to contact the owner of the business as they deal with the incident.
During the discussion, representatives from multiple local agencies including the Prineville Police Department, Crook County Fire and Rescue, the Crook County Building Department, and the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce took the floor and told the Council and public about their current business lists. All of them came to the same conclusion: Our lists are not good enough.
We don’t think requiring a license will aid in compiling a more comprehensive business directory. The only way the City might generate a better list is to increase enforcement efforts. That, of course, would cost more money and business owners have already expressed concerns about a potential fee just for processing paperwork. We can’t imagine they would want to pay even more for enforcing the license requirement.
Even if business owners willingly paid for enforcement, we don’t believe the license requirement would hit its mark. If they chose to, a new business could rent a space from an established facility and avoid the need to apply for permits. Unless they advertise or add signage to their building, how would anyone find them?
We also oppose a business license requirement because of the potential for unintended consequences. Even if the City succeeded in compiling a complete list of businesses for a small fee, it opens the door for other administrations to use the requirement for other purposes. Sure, this Council only wants a business listing for public safety concerns, and would like to keep fees as low as possible. However, a new Council could choose to use a license to control what businesses enter the community. They could also decide to turn the requirement into a revenue generator and increase the cost for businesses to apply.
Rather than require a business license, we believe the City should play a role in helping the multiple entities who have already compiled business directories to pool their resources and come up with the best list possible.
We further feel that the business owners can play a role in that effort. If they make a point to call the Prineville Police Department or Crook County Fire and Rescue now, they can ensure their business is listed and improve the business directory.
The Crook County community has historically worked together to solve problems. We feel they can do so again and eliminate the need for a business license while still providing local government and law enforcement personnel the information they need to protect businesses.