The Richmond Register

Local News

September 13, 2012

City hires business-license investigator



The Richmond City Commission moved Tuesday evening to hire a “Business License Associate” who will search for unlicensed businesses.

Unlicensed businesses evade the city’s 2-percent net profits tax, and their employees do not pay the 2-percent payroll tax, officials have said.

Becky L. Randall was hired at a salary of $30,000 and would be ready to start work the next day, City Manager Jimmy Howard told the commission before the vote.

Randall was chosen from a large number of good applicants, several of whom were interviewed, Howard said. She will be supervised by city Finance Director Sharon Cain.

City Commissioner Jason Morgan voted against the hire, saying he had no objection to the candidate but was opposed to creating the position.

As part of a stepped-up effort to collect all the revenue it is due, the city commission has already hired an audit clerk to review the payments of licensed businesses.

Also Tuesday, the commission approved final reading of a revision to the city’s business-license ordinance. It allows non-profit festival promoters, including the city tourism department, to buy a single license for an event instead of requiring licenses of individual vendors. Morgan also voted against this measure.

Tourism Director Lori Murphy-Tatum reported that the city’s renamed Great American Festival and Kids Fest had a record number of vendors and perhaps its greatest visitor turnout. Inclement weather Saturday morning had cleared by mid afternoon, she said, and the weather was near-perfect on Sunday, contributing to the large number of visitors.

The commission unanimously approved three other ordinances for which it heard first reading at a called meeting one week earlier.

The city’s Sunday drink-sales ordinance was revised to clarify that restaurants licensed to serve alcoholic beverages on Sundays need not close at 9 p.m., only stop serving them at that hour.

The clarification had been requested by Tom Thilman, co-owner of Madison Garden, who also had asked that drink sales be allowed until 1 a.m., the same as the other six nights of the week.

Until the Richmond Register reported on the issue, most people in the city were unaware that drinks could not be served after 9 p.m. on Sundays, he said.

Thilman asked the commission to give a reason for not extending the hours, such as increased policing costs. Wanting downtown to “look like a ghost town” on Sunday nights also would be a reason, he said, but not a good one.

At the meeting’s conclusion, Commissioner Robert Blythe, who had voted five years earlier against allowing Sunday drink sales, said his vote to clarify the ordinance was not inconsistent with his previous vote.

Regretting that Thilman had already left the meeting, Blythe said he was unaware of any other requests, except Thilman’s, for later drink sales on Sundays. Blythe, also the pastor of a downtown church, said he resented Thilman’s assertions that “the voters deserve better” from the commission on this issue.

Other ordinances approved will:

• Require developers to include 0.8 acres of recreational green space for every eight subdivision homes or eight apartment bedrooms. Previously, only planned-unit developments (PUDs) were required to provide recreational green space, said Planning Director Jason Hart.

• Allow developers to use only letters of credit instead of performance bonds to guarantee proper completion of developments. The ordinance also would prevent companies with officers or directors who were part of a firm that had failed to comply with development regulations from starting new developments.

• Accept streets in Jergee Place and Briarwood Estates into the city’s transportation network.

The commission voted to hire Wanda Bailey as the city manager’s administrative assistant at a salary of $30,000. Bailey was chosen from 32 applicants, seven of whom were interviewed, Howard said.

In other personnel

matters, commissioners:

• Accepted the resignation of Lamar Ross from the information technology department, who Howard said was leaving for a better-paying job

• Accepted the retirement of Ray Stivers, who had been employed by the parks department.

Bill Robinson can be reached at brobinson@

or at 624-6690.

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