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Tue, Feb. 18

Online registry opens access to licensed businesses
Prescott database expected to go live in early July

Within the next month or so, local residents should be able to peruse an online list of licensed businesses operating in the City of Prescott.

The Prescott City Council heard a presentation this week from city Budget and Tax Manager Lars Johnson about the proposed registry of licensed businesses.

Although the website is still under development, Johnson showed the council an example of what would soon be available to the public.

For instance, he said, the public would be able to search the site by type business, products or services offered, and street locations.

The businesses also will be listed under four main categories: businesses inside city limits; those that do business in Prescott but are located outside city limits; vacation rentals; and sober-living homes.

Businesses that register for a license under the city’s new business-license program are asked to provide basic information about their business, Johnson said, noting, “They provide the description, so it’s customized for each business.”

The registry was among the components that council members asked for when they approved the new business-license program in 2016.

The program went into effect Jan. 1, 2017, and since then, Johnson reported that 2,858 businesses have registered for a city license.

That is less than half of the businesses estimated to be operating in Prescott. While the city originally estimated the total number at about 10,000, Johnson said that included about 3,000 residential rentals — a category that the City Council has since exempted from the business licenses.

To get more compliance, the city has been sending letters to the businesses that have yet to register. Future enforcement could involve personal contact with the non-compliant businesses, Johnson said.

Budget and Finance Director Mark Woodfill said the website should be ready go live online by the first part of July.

Council members were mostly supportive of the plan.

Councilman Steve Blair, who was one of three members to vote against the business-license program, said the registry adds value to the program.

“At least with this, I’m getting something for my money,” Blair said.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim Lamerson, also an opponent of the business license program, questioned the value of the registry, however. “I think we’re getting something for our money; I’m not quite sure what it is,” he said.

Councilwoman Billie Orr, who supported the implementation of business licenses, pointed out that the program applies equally to local businesses and vendors that come into Prescott for events. “All vendors must have a business license,” she said, adding, “That is a real advantage to local businesses.”

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