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July 3, 2013

Berea to consider lowering some business license fees

BEREA — The Berea City Council will be calling a special work session to discuss amending the fees for a general business license.

The decision came after David Powell, owner of Snow White Laundry, came before the council Tuesday evening to protest having to pay $100 annually for a license because his business is classified as “requiring special regulations.”

A general business license can be obtained for a one-time payment of $10.

A 1990 city ordinance classifies some businesses as “requiring special regulation.” Those include temporary businesses such as carnivals, circuses and peddlers, companies selling life insurance policies, fortune tellers, palm readers, healers, pawn shops, shooting galleries, skating rinks, laundry services and others.

The license fee for each business type is designed to cover the cost of regulation, the ordinance states. The fee also is a tax credit for the business against net profit taxes.

Powell said his laundromat doesn’t require any more regulating than most other general business.

“There’s no difference between me and the Family Dollar store next door,” he said.  

Mayor Steven Connelly said the law has been challenged before by George Wyatt, owner of the Club Arena skating rink.

Council member Virgil Burnside said the ordinance should be reviewed because the reason for some regulation may no longer apply.

“Whatever the issue was at the time, they felt like they needed that regulation. I’m not sure that's applicable today,” Burnside said.

The council agreed that a work session where all departments could weigh in on how changing the ordinance would affect the city may be appropriate. Department heads will be able to voice opinions on whether a business type should be taken off the list, or if all such classifications should be abolished.

Snow White Laundry is the only laundromat still operating in the city, and it is the only business affected by that section of the ordinance.

 Some council members also said they want to explore implementing an annual license fee for all businesses, so they could more accurately determine which ones are still operating.

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