The decision comes more than a year after business license discussions emerged

For more than a year, the City of Prineville has considered a new business license or registry, but has never acted on the idea.

That changed this past week as the council decided to proceed with creating a business registry for the community.

In 2012, the council launched discussion of a possible business license that generated mixed reviews among councilors and business owners alike. After the council held a well-attended public workshop on the matter, talks of the license stalled and were not renewed again until earlier this spring.

The topic was revisited by Prineville Police Captain Michael Boyd, who was pushing for a license or registry system to provide law enforcement and fire personnel critical information about businesses in the event of an emergency. He explained that police or firefighters often have no way to contact business owners, nor do they know what sorts of hazardous materials are housed in the buildings.

The discussion prompted the circulation of a business license survey in hopes of gauging how businesses felt about the idea. Boyd returned with the results of that survey this past week.

“Toward the end of March, we sent out a (business license) survey,” he said. “It was out there for about two weeks and we got about three responses from businesses in the community.”

Boyd said he implored the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce, who circulated the survey, to send it out a second time. That time, 83 businesses responded out of a possible 550.

Of those surveyed, 54 opposed a business license, and 30 percent favored it. By contrast, 51 percent favored a business registry.

“Do we send the survey out to the community in general?” Boyd asked the council. “Do we begin working with a committee toward drafting something that would be acceptable based upon these results? Or do we stop?”

Councilor Dean Noyes was first to answer, saying that he feels it is time to stop waiting and move forward with something.

“We have had conversations from ‘What’s Brewing?’ to workshops here, to surveys,” he said. “We have done our diligence in terms of seeking public input on this process ... I think we need to move ahead and get something done.”

Councilor Gail Merritt agreed that the city had spent ample time seeking public input and discussing the topic, but expressed reservations over the low participation in the survey.

“Not that many people participated, so we don’t know what they really think.”

Having recently launched his own business, Councilor Jason Beebe said he had no problem with paying a small fee to get his information out there.

“I am in favor of something,” he said, “probably something more toward a registry.”

Jason Carr, however, was the lone councilor who opposed a new business license or registry. He not only philosophically disagrees with the idea, he feels the survey lacked a “no” option on its questions.

“Basically, it was set up to pick one or the other (license or registry),” he said. “There wasn’t a third option to say absolutely, ‘No, I don’t want this.’ For me, it calls into question how valid the yes votes are.”

After discussion the matter, the council directed Boyd and city leaders to move forward with developing a business registry.

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