The first reading of a new business license ordinance passed the McCreary County Fiscal Court Thursday night with little fanfare and discussion.
The idea of a business license was first proposed to the Fiscal Court in 2014 by the McCreary County Chamber of Commerce, but the ordinance did not make it past the first reading after public outcry caused the Court to reconsider the action.
Now, two years later, the ordinance looks like it is on the way to being enacted, with several minor changes in the language from the original draft.
The first reading passed with a 5-0 vote, but a second reading still must be held before it goes in to effect.
A special called meeting has been set for March 23 at 6:00 p.m. to discuss the second reading of the ordinance.
The changes include a reduction in cost in the fee structure, and more detailed definitions and regulations concerning yard sales.
The ordinance’s main purpose, according to Judge Executive Doug Stephens, is to provide a “tool in our toolbox” to give the Occupational Tax Office more information on existing businesses and additional authority to enforce the occupational tax laws already on the books.
But, it also takes steps to effectively ban vendors from setting up on the side of the road or in business parking lots without permission from the property owner.
The ordinance defines an itinerant vendor as “any person engaged in a temporary and transient business,” which would include persons obtaining “pallet” goods from a wholesaler and selling those good outside of a typical business.
Also falling in to a similar category would be “peddlers,” defined as “any person not having a regularly established place of business in the County who travels from place to place or has a stand upon any public street, alley or other public place who sells or offers for sale any goods, wares or merchandise in his possession.”
Anyone operating under those conditions will be considered to be violating the ordinance unless they purchase a “temporary/Itinerant Business License” at a cost of $50.
There are several exemptions to the ordinance, including some forms of yard sales, charitable organizations and businesses that operate out of homes if they make less than $600 per year.
Yard sales will not require a permit fee as long as they are held at a personal residence, or on the property of a registered commercial entity with written permission from the owner. Yard sales that operate for more than three days a month, however, will require the purchasing of a permit.
Non-profit organizations will be required to apply for a non-profit license to be displayed when selling from store fronts, booths or special events. There will be no charge for such a license, but the organization will have to provide proof of having a state tax identification number.
All businesses will be required to purchase an annual license at the cost of $20, and the license is to be prominently displayed where customers can easily see it.
Businesses found to be operating without a license can be fined up to $5 per day of the violation, and could face additional costs due to the interest, penalties and collection of the fees as well.
A $50 fine can be assessed to any business not having the permit displayed in a conspicuous location.
That fine would be used as compensation for law enforcement agencies that would serve the citations at the behest of the Tax Administrator.
The McCreary County Sheriff’s Office, and McCreary County Constables would be authorized under the ordinance to act as an authorized agent of the Fiscal Court to inspect businesses for compliance with the ordinance and prosecute those who fail to do so.