Proposed changes to the Business License Ordinance

City Of Beaufort SC

09 May Proposed changes to the Business License Ordinance

Two weeks ago City Council passed on first reading of two changes to the Business License Ordinance that will be considered for second and final reading at this Tuesday’s regular City Council meeting that begins at 7 PM.

Over the past week, I have heard some concerns,  many of which are based on erroneous facts. Accordingly, I want to make it clear and transparent what the proposed ordinances are intended to do.

The first ordinance change is a requirement that ALL businesses, including those classified as non-profit and charitable, will be required to REGISTER with the City like other businesses. This DOES NOT mean that non-profit organizations will necessarily be charged business license fees. Rather, it means that the City will have a complete record of all entities doing business in the City and will be required to be inspected and abide by health and safety ordinances required of all other businesses.

As an example, within the past year, a non-profit was renting its facility for private events. During those events, unsafe activities took place and the city had no leverage to stop those activities. With the proposed measure in place, the City will have leverage to prevent the non-profit from conducting such activities ensuring the safety of the organization and the surrounding neighborhood.

The second ordinance change, however, will require “non-profit” organizations that are conducting business or providing services outside of their core mission — thereby competing with for-profit organizations (that are required to pay business license fees) — to pay a license for those and only those competing business activities. A fee will not be charged to an organization that is simply operating within its core mission.

One example is non-profits that own and lease residential and business properties to the public, outside of their core mission, will be treated like businesses because they compete with other businesses that pay. This is only fair.

Another example could be that non-profit charitable organizations providing child care services (to families outside of their membership) and, thereby competing with private businesses, will pay a fee on that business.

It also means that for-profit businesses providing services to non-profit organizations on a contract basis are required to pay, as does any other business in the City, a business license.

These are changes from the past. In my view they both protect the public and level the playing field for competing businesses. They bring fairness to the business license process.

Let us hear you views. Remember there is no net effect on non-profits whose business activities remain within their core mission. They will be required to register but not pay a fee.