Businesses and developers to pay same rates in 2013

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Business owners and those who develop properties in Morinville will pay the same rates in 2013 that they paid in 2012 after Council voted unanimously to maintain the status quo. Councillors had the opportunity to vote on maintaining the price of business licenses and Planning and Development fees during two separate requests for decision presented at the Oct. 9 council meeting.

Morinville’s Planning and Development fees were reviewed and set in place in 2011 after considerable review. It was felt those rates and fees, which are to be reviewed annually, were working well in their first year. As such, Administration felt no need to increase them in 2013.

“Since it [the fee policy] is relatively new and was based on a very comprehensive review, it is our opinion this policy is in no need of review at this point, and that the recommendation is for Council to leave it in effect for 2013,” said Morinville’s Director of Planning and Development, Greg Hofmann.

Business licenses will hold the line

Like the Planning and Development fees, Morinville’s Business License Bylaw underwent extensive review and consultation in 2011. Similarly, it was felt those fees were sufficient for 2013.

Resident businesses will continue to pay $100 in 2013, as will resident hawkers and peddlers. Non-resident businesses will continue to pay $200 in 2013. Non-resident hawkers and peddlers will pay $300 per year of $50 per day.

Penalties for not having a business license will be $200 for a first offense. Second and subsequent offenses will be $500 plus $250 for each additional day the offense continues.

Concession for part time businesses to be considered

Councillor Lisa Holmes said she was respectful of the bylaw and the work put into it; however, she believed it was missing an exception for businesses that operate largely at craft fairs or in craft-selling venues. “The stay-at-home mom that makes less than $20,000 a year and really isn’t doing much of anything other than a craft fair at Christmas and selling some handmade goods,” Holmes said, adding there should be a differentiation between that level of business operation and someone operating a full business out of their home.

Holmes advocated for something similar to Banff, a community that offers a half rate for part time or low volume business owners.

Hofmann said the bylaw already has a special license for those who participate in craft sales and that the Chamber of Commerce had considerable input into crafting the current Business License Bylaw.

It did not move Holmes off her stance. “I respect the Chamber having input into this, but I don’t feel the Chamber represents those types of business,” she said. “Those are the people who cannot afford a Chamber membership, let alone a business license. I’m hoping for next year we’ve had some consultation for that as an option.”

In a motion arising, Holmes asked to have Administration examine Banff’s approach to businesses earning less than $20,000 and to present it for consideration for 2014. The motion passed with a 4-1 vote of Council, Councillor Sheldon Fingler casting the only opposing vote.

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