By Lucas Vader
At the Sept. 17 Cedaredge town meeting, Town Clerk Kami Collins described the necessity and benefits of revising town code regarding business licenses.
At the current time, Cedaredge requires all entities which do any business within town limits to have a business license through the town, as specified in the code. According to Collins, the discrepancies revolve mainly around requiring nonprofit organizations to have licenses, as well as having outside vendors and contract workers purchase a license.
For nonprofits, the town does not charge for business licenses, yet it costs the town money, time and resources to create them. For this reason, Collins suggested nonprofit organizations should no longer be required to obtain licenses.
“There’s a tremendous amount of work and expense going out for nonprofit licenses when we’re not bringing money in,” Collins said. “The other problem with a nonprofit license is that a nonprofit’s board changes almost every single year and it’s a chore to keep that database up to date.” Collins said they’d be better off keeping a list of nonprofits on its website.
The advantage of business licensing, as Collins explained, is it creates an up-to-date directory for the town to be able to guide tourists and even some residents to proper places for amenities. She acknowledged, however, that while this is a useful advantage for in-town businesses, it’s less of a benefit with outside businesses which come into town.
“Pepsi Bottling Company, who delivers Pepsi to all my restaurants, has to have a business license,” Collins said. “When La-Z-Boy Furniture delivers a new La-Z-Boy recliner to Charlie, they have to have a license.”
It’s also currently written as the Cedaredge resident’s responsibility to notify all contractors that they need to have a business license before they can be hired.
“The community doesn’t know that,” Collins said. “An outside business sure as heck doesn’t know that.” She said this creates a great deal of pushback from outside businesses that arrive for a job and are told they need a business license to proceed. It’s also problematic that the code would require a license from, for example, a tree trimmer who comes in once to do a private job.
Also, the way the code is written currently, there isn’t much room for enforcement, Collins said, as the lack of code on late fees or any other penalty creates a situation where licenses are constantly renewed late, indicating that their procedure for the licenses would either need to be simplified or “tightened up.”
“When we were going over this with [Town Attorney Carol Viner], she said, ‘You can continue to do this but you’re going to have to rewrite the code,’” Collins said. “We are going to have to make our code tighter if this board wants us to continue licensing businesses that are not physically located here.”
There is little direction on what tightening the code would look like, but corrections would likely revolve mainly around the impracticality of nonprofit licenses, the lack of logic in certain outside business licensing and the lack of any sort of enforceable penalties for in-town businesses that don’t renew their licenses by the deadline.
Collins requested the board of trustees discuss the matter at a later meeting and make a decision on a direction for revising the code regarding business licensing. She stated that, while she has no preference on the direction for businesses, she wanted to heavily suggest abolishing the requirement for nonprofit licensing altogether.