09 Jan Beaufort is ahead of the curve once again
As a Board Member of the Municipal Association of SC, I have been defending the rights of local government to maintain business licenses while agreeing that there must be ways to make the process more transparent, easier to understand, less complicated to apply for licenses and equitable.
For the past several years Legislators in Columbia have been looking at changing local business licenses. Some of the suggestions are terrible while others are good.
On the negative side, at one point legislators wanted to cap business licenses at $100 which means that a mom and pop small business would pay the same as Walmart even though the larger stores require more services than do mom and pop. This change, should it happen, could cost the city of Beaufort 18-20% of our revenue with no way to make it up. That would mean cutting core services not the least of which is public safety.
On the positive side, lawmakers want licenses to be more universal with a smaller number of license categories and more equitable to ensure a city does not achieve a windfall on the backs of a few.
Beaufort is taking the lead, even before the Legislature acts, to make the process less complicated, with license applications available on line, and a system that seeks to equalize the shared burden among all businesses.
When the legislature completes their plan, I think we will be ahead of the curve with much of what they will require already in place. If they do not come to agreement with a new plan, Beaufort will have done the right thing by responding to necessary and equitable reform in support of our businesses.
Either way, Beaufort businesses should find the process less cumbersome and equitable.