As directed by District of Houston council back in July 2016, district staff presented a draft for a new business license bylaw,at the council meeting on Nov. 15, as an amendment to the Business License Bylaw No. 778, 1998. Provisions now include a process where mobile vendors can now operate within the district parks.
A map of these acceptable places for vendors to be placed in the district parks will be presented at the first reading.
District staff also noted that the fee structure of the business licences will need to be revisited, as it has not been changed since the bylaw was adopted in 1998.
It was recommended that the business license fees be revised as such to consolidate and reduce the number of business categories, based on the amount of the business license fee; eliminate floor area based fees for businesses, and move to a general fee for each class of business; and maintain or reduce the home based business license fee.
Reducing the number of business license categories would simplify the bylaw so that businesses would be able to more clearly understand what fees they would be required to pay when starting a business. A fee consolidation and elimination of floor area based fees could reduce projected business license revenues, and a reduction in the home based business license fee could reduce the barriers of such businesses from purchasing a license from the district. However, it was also noted that this could also reduce existing revenues.
“Do we know yet if certain businesses will see an increase or decrease as a result of this?” asked councillor Jonathan VanBarneveld.
“The proposals on the table isn’t to increase the fees for this year, because letters for businesses license renewals start going out in the next couple of weeks. So what we are proposing is to leave the fees and structure as it is right now, and then revisiting this later on to review the fees for 2018, whether to reduce, increase, or consolidate,” answered Gerald Pinchbeck,Corporate Services Officer for the District of Houston.
It was recommended that any changes to business license fee structure should be implemented and applied to the year 2018,and that fees for the year 2017 will remain the same as the year 2016 in order to allow adequate time to consult businesses in the community that could be affected by any changes proposed.
Council agreed to direct staff to bring this forward into consideration at the first reading.