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Mon, Oct. 14

Editorial: Business license unnecessary for Prescott

The Prescott City Council continues to discuss the need to implement a business license program.

Touted by Mayor Harry Oberg as a registry that would help easily identify businesses, not all business owners and officials agree.

Councilman Greg Lazzell questioned the need for the license or registry. He pointed out that most professionals who do business in the community, such as attorneys and doctors, already have to register with their respective state boards.

A new license fee would be "just one more thing," Lazzell said, adding, "As a business owner, it is death by 1,000 cuts."

Another issue is how would this be enforced and what penalty would there be for not registering?

After the personnel cuts within the city, who would be in charge of keeping this registry current? Businesses come and go with frequency in Prescott. That position could morph into a full-time job fairly fast.

The council was told at a recent meeting that a number of these details, along with others, have yet to be worked out, including: whether the city would allow exemptions from the fee for activities such as religious or political organizations, yard sales, farmers' markets, and newspaper carriers; whether separate licenses would be required for professionals doing business under a larger business; whether each location or separate places of business would be charged the fee; and the penalty for failure to obtain a license.

Mayor Oberg said the license will be "revenue neutral," meaning the city would set the fee amount to cover the cost of administering the program, and not as a revenue generator.

If the fee is kept to $25 to $25, as was suggested by Prescott City Manager Craig McConnell, will that cover the constant updating, fee collecting and enforcement?

There seems to be more questions than answers right now. At this point in time, with other financial issues the city is facing, implementing this program doesn't seem to be a good idea for Prescott.

Future meetings of the council on the topic could take place on March 1, April 5 and May 3.

Depending on the outcome, a business-license ordinance could be in effect by June, with implementation occurring for much of the remainder of 2016.

Reach out to the council and mayor with your concerns on the creation of a business registry: Mayor and City Council, 201 S. Cortez St., Prescott AZ 86303 , 928-777-1100. Visit www.prescott-az.gov to email comments.

- The Daily Courier Editorial Board

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