MINUTES FOR THE STUDY SESSION
Monday, December 6, 2010
Council Chair David Chapman called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room.
Councilor Silbiger, Navickas, Lemhouse, and Voisin were present. Councilor Jackson arrived at 5:34 p.m. Mayor Stromberg was absent.
1. Look Ahead Review
City Administrator Martha Bennett reviewed the items on the Council Look Ahead.
2. Does the Council want to revise the business license ordinance?
Interim City Attorney Megan Thornton provided the staff report and explained there were two ways to approach business license ordinances. One was using a taxing mechanism to generate revenue. The other was regulating business licenses that generated revenue the same as taxation would. Either method Council chose staff recommended removing the fees from the ordinance and establishing them in a resolution to simplify the fee structure.
Strengths supporting a taxation based business license ordinance were the fees would generate revenue and it was easy for staff to administer. The approval process was faster and did not require enforcement as long as the fee was paid. Weaknesses were it would not provide criteria to deny or revoke a license. Ms. Thornton went on to note a correction to the Council Communication indicating the last fee update was 1991 when it was 2006.
Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg explained current enforcement entailed staff reviewing newspaper articles for new companies and contacting them if they were not licensed. Staff also mailed annual renewal notices with follow up reminders. The current code did not have a revocation process for a business license and the City would not cite or shut down businesses operating without a license. In 2009, there were 2,083 business licenses. Business licenses generate approximately $200,000 in revenue for the General Fund yearly.
Staff recommended adding language to the code that a City business license did not convey the business was in compliance. Additionally the current code required the business to post their license. If the City went with taxation, the license should be available upon request only and not posted. Posting implied the City endorsed the business.
A regulation-based ordinance would allow staff to deny a license. The ordinance would also tie in with State law. If Council chose a regulatory ordinance, staff would recommend adding a disclaimer to the application that everything the applicant stated was true and falsified information could be considered a criminal offense. Council could have regulation criterion that included whether a business had paid their Food and Beverage Tax, Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) or did not comply with the Ashland Land Use code.
Council expressed concern that business licenses were required for revenue purposes only. Other comments noted the fee was minimal and having business licenses added to public safety, consumer protection and did not serve as a barrier to economic development. Council and staff discussed enforcing vacation houses and the inequity in the business license exemption regarding for-profit businesses like the Artisanís market. Also discussed was the US Supreme court case that made solicitation and peddler licenses illegal. Staff would review whether that ruling extended to door-to-door sales.
The weaknesses to having a regulatory process were it added to staff time and the application would be longer and require additional processing time for compliance.
Initial enforcement would remain in the Finance Department but would depend on the underlying violation. Prior to seeking an injunction, the City would send notices, issue citations for non-compliance and failure to comply then look at contempt with the option of settlement.
Council suggested tying the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) to the business license, having a distinction for home based businesses and establishing a rental registry for rentals. Staff clarified typically an individual with two rentals was required to have a business license but in Ashland the amount was six. Other suggestions included settlement payments over time for businesses in arrears and language authorizing the City to revoke a license immediately in specific cases where public safety was threatened.
Council consensus supported using some form of regulation for the business license ordinance.
3. What direction does the Council have related to City Council Goal setting for 2011?
City Administrator Martha Bennett discussed logistics regarding the Goal Setting Session with Council who agreed on the following:
∑ Goal Setting Session will occur Saturday, January 15, 2011
∑ Council Relations/Council Team Building Session will take place the Thursday afternoon or Friday evening before the Goal Setting Session
∑ Staff will find a facilitator for the Council Relations/Council Team Building Session who will work for a lower cost or free
∑ Changing venues Ė staff will research other suitable places for the Goal Setting Session
∑ Ms. Bennett will facilitate the Goal Setting Session
∑ Council Liaisons will solicit feedback from the Boards, Committees and Commissionís prior to the session
∑ The City Recorder, the City Attorney, and Department Directors will provide input prior and will not have to attend
∑ Draft agenda for the Goal Setting was approved
Meeting adjourned at 7:56 p.m.
Assistant to the City Recorder