Friday, August 19, 2005

Ketchum council voices business licenses support

Express Staff Writer

Business operators in Ketchum may be required to obtain a license if a proposed ordinance continues to gain steam in City Hall.

City Council members Monday, Aug. 15, discussed implementing a $25 annual fee for every business operating in the city.

"It gives us a wealth of information but doesn't impair their ability to operate," said Mayor Ed Simon, who said he favored issuing a one-page questionnaire.

The Fire Department could use the information to notify business owners in case of an emergency, noted Councilman Baird Gourlay.

"It's an additional way of tracking people down," he said.

City staff support the idea as a way to inform new business owners of city requirements and codes, said Planning Director Harold Moniz.

"The price of it makes it easy to justify," said Councilman Ron Parsons.

Carol Waller, executive director of the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau, said the chamber board supports the concept, as long as the fee is minimal.

"It's important to have a handle on what types of businesses are opening in your city," she said Thursday.

Some companies, such as Internet service providers, operate "under the radar," or less publicly than others, she added.

"A business license fee would be a good way to get the data to see what types of businesses are out there," she said.

The city of Hailey charges $125 for an initial license and $50 per year, according to a Ketchum staff report.

Current software used by the city could be modified to track the licenses. The $3,300 cost of that is included in the city clerk's fiscal year 2005-2006 budget.

City staff will draft a proposed ordinance, which would have to be approved by the City Council.

The measure could go into effect by January 2006, Simon said.

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