The Prineville City Council opts to form a committee to research the idea and develop a draft ordinance for review

More than a year after discussions ended regarding a City of Prineville business license, the topic was given new life this past week.

Prineville Police Captain Michael Boyd approached the City Council in hopes of convincing the governing body to again consider the idea after talks stalled in late 2012.

"There are some challenges by not having a business license," he said. "First is the lack of information on businesses. We have responded to businesses in the past because of burglar alarms, because of break-ins, etc. We have no idea who owns the building, no idea who rents the building, and no idea what they sell inside of the building."

Boyd added that a business license would help responding officers know what is kept in the facility, whether it is hazardous materials or resources they could utilize in an emergency like shovels or gas cans.

"Our second challenge," Boyd continued, "is controlling the illegal or unethical businesses." He noted that after a major hailstorm, many auto body shops came to town and scammed local residents.

"We have no way to control that or even know who owns the place."

Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe responded first, acknowledging that she has long supported a local business license, but has heard mixed reviews thus far.

"I have talked to a lot of businesses in our community, and I would say it's about 50/50 as to whether they think there should be or shouldn't be," she said. "Those who believe that there should be, think they would reap a lot of benefits. Those who think there shouldn't be, they think it is just an additional tax."

Roppe added that although she would want to institute a minimal license fee, some business owners worried that future council members would increase the fee to generate revenue.

Councilor Jack Seley expressed his support of a business license, and Councilor Dean Noyes said it made sense to move discussion of the topic forward. However, Noyes added that the council had initially considered a business registry as opposed to a business license, and said that it might be a better alternative.

Councilor Gail Merritt also favored a business registration system over a license, and added that she was troubled by charging businesses a fee, however small it is.

"I think it is difficult enough for them," she said. Meanwhile, Councilor Jason Carr spoke against the business license concept, saying it adds another layer of government and another mechanism for the city to collect fees. He noted that businesses already provide much of the information Boyd referenced when they navigate the local permitting process.

"I feel like it's unnecessary," he said.

Following the discussion, the council elected to form a committee to investigate the business license proposal in more detail. That committee will report their findings to the council at a future meeting.

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