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Business license meeting Thursday

By: Greg Bird

A redrafted proposal for a new McCreary County business license is to be the topic of discussion at a public hearing scheduled for today at 5 p.m., prior to the December meeting of the McCreary County Fiscal Court.

The proposal, developed by the McCreary County Chamber of Commerce, was first introduced at last month’s Fiscal Court meeting and was initially met with both support and skepticism.

Officials from the Chamber had been working on the proposal for over a year and presented it to the Fiscal Court last month in hopes to get a first reading of the ordinance in the record. Ordinances require two readings and a public hearing before they can be enacted as law in McCreary County.

Proponents of the license say it is needed not only to protect local businesses but to also help capture occupational tax revenue from businesses located outside the county that operate at least part time in McCreary.

One example stated was contractors from outside the county repairing roofs after hail storms last summer. Most, if not all, of that contract work was not reported to the Occupational Tax Office, resulting in lost income for the county. That tax money, a Chamber representative stated, was not fair to local-based contractors who also did work, but reported the income and paid their share of the local tax.

Opponents voiced their displeasure with the ordinance, claiming it would be a burden on local businesses, and unfair.

One citizen stated he believed the law would apply only to those businesses who already follow the Occupational Tax law in place, and the county’s track record from prosecuting those who don’t report income to the OC Tax office shows this would be another unenforceable law.

Chamber representatives state language in the ordinance would allow for local law enforcement to visit businesses and issue a fine if the license was not obtained or not displayed. Also, the Occupational Tax Office would be able to issue fines as well.

Another issue of concern with the original proposal was the fees for obtaining a business license. Ranging from $25 to $200, some questioned the cost of the fees and even suggested no fee at all.

While that suggestion was greeted with a positive response, the revised proposal circulated by the Chamber of Commerce last week keeps the fee, but mainly reduced and simplified the expense.

Under the current proposal, all businesses will have to pay a $25 license fee except for temporary or itinerant businesses, which will carry a $75 fee.

As before, school and church fundraising enterprises, as well as yard sales on private properties (with owners permission) will be exempt from needing a license.

Another clause that caused concern was the requirement of individuals operating a business from their home to obtain a license if their annual sales exceed $600. Chamber representatives stated last month that federal tax laws require such individuals to file an annual income tax return on those sales, and as such, would also be required to report that income locally.

The Chamber of Commerce has been circulating the redrafted ordinance to local businesses in an effort to educate owners of the benefits of the law, and to ask for a letter of support to present to the Fiscal Court at the meeting.

The public hearing is scheduled to begin in the Fiscal Court room at 5 p.m., and any who wish to comment on the issue are encouraged to attend. The Fiscal Court meeting will begin at 7 p.m.

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