Ya gotta license to Biz

By Richard Davis
TFW Staff Writer

There were a couple of dissenting voices in the crowd, but the Fayetteville City Council approved requiring a business license to operate within the city.

The ordinance passed 6-1-1 with Kyle Cook voting no and Bobby Ferrell abstaining through silence. As City Attorney Kit Williams.

Aaron Stahl, who described himself as a small business owner, and Jeff Dickey, who is a candidate for the council in Ward 4, spoke out against business licenses during the public comments section. Stahl was rational and calm but spoke vehemently and extensively against requiring business licenses. He argued the licenses are unnecessary and just another burden on entrepreneurs. He said it was a relief when he called the city to start his business, asked about a license and was told “Just go to work and good luck.”
Chung Tan with the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce’s economic development team said the information gained with business licenses will be essential to obtaining federal grants and attracting news businesses.

Don Marr, the mayor’s chief of staff, said the license fee ($32 max for businesses or $22 max for home-based businesses) will be rolled into the already existing zoning fees – resulting in only a $10 net increase. Unlike some cities, Marr said the fee will only cover the cost of collecting the information and not as a moneymaker for the city’s coffers.

Failure to get a license can be a big ouchie — up to $250 a day in penalties. But, Marr said the city will work with owners and would only be interested in those dedicated to noncompliance. He cited the pay parking on Dickson Street as a recent example, saying the city voided an estimated 80 percent of the parking fines initially as parkers and parking officials both adjusted to the system.

Alderman Shirley Lucas quoted some of Skip Descant’s articles in the Northwest Arkansas Times, saying his research supported requiring business licenses. Alderman Sarah Lewis said she has a small business and thinks the license is a good idea.

The only real spark came when Stahl asked to comment again after chamber and city staff spoke. Mayor Lioneld Jordan reminded him public comment had been closed. No city council member invited Stahl to speak again.

“Tyranny at its finest,” Stahl said loudly.

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