Business license proposal returns
September 14, 2017
It has been nearly a decade since Douglas County rejected the last proposal for a business license.
But the proposal lurks in the economic vitality and health and safety elements of the master plan revision.
Douglas County is one of a handful of Nevada counties that do not have a business license.
Instead, businesses are required to apply for a fictitious business name, which records the name and contact for a business, but not much else.
"I feel it's extremely important to find out the vulnerabilities in a business that could create a problem," Planning Commission Chairwoman Margaret Pross said on Tuesday.
"Some businesses are being missed because we don't know what is there. It is important to know our businesses. It benefits the community in so many ways, and benefits the businesses as well."
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Public safety is one of the key arguments for a business license, master plan consultant Candace Stowell said.
"Nobody's reviewing businesses when they come into the county," she said. "The only time building, fire and planning departments become involved is when a business seeks a building permit."
She said that East Fork Fire District has a voluntary incident response form for businesses to fill out.
There also isn't a way to know how many businesses operate out of the county.
"Economic development has no information," she said. "The county does not know what sort of business that is. The only data is coming from state. Not having information is not a good way to respond to businesses coming or leaving the county."
Chamber of Commerce Director Bill Chernock joked he took an oath not to say the words "business," and "license" and "fee," in a row without words in between them.
"It's a third-rail issue," he said. "We recognize the health and safety concerns, and as a chamber, we're willing to discuss it as a health and safety issue."
He suggested that the state might be able to provide some of the information collected in its process.
Jacobs Berry Farm owner Jack Jacobs said he already pays $1,000 for two state business licenses.
"In adopting any kind of business license, I want to make sure I don't get further in the hole trying to operate a small business," he said.
Douglas County commissioners last rejected a business license in 2008, after county staff suggested it might be used to generate additional revenue.
There are more than 1,000 businesses operating in the county, but many of those are in people's homes.
Planning Commissioner Frank Godecke asked if the proposed business license would be applied to home-operated businesses.
"Right now, a lot of them prefer to operate under the radar," he said. "I'm sure most are doing something legal and above board, but prefer not to be noticed by having a business license."
The county required a home occupation permit for years, but repealed it in 2012 after determining enforcing the permit cost more than it generated.
Stowell said the proposal would apply to home businesses, as well as those with a footprint.
Tuesday's hearing was the last workshop on the 20-year update of the master plan. No action was taken.