In yet another potentially business-friendly move, the Lacey City Council on Thursday night weighed the benefits of having the state handle its business licensing.
And after Thursday’s work session, the council appeared likely to approve that step in August, with implementation sometime in 2015. Once approved, the state Department of Revenue’s business licensing service would take on those licensing duties.
Eric Jones, a state Department of Revenue business licensing service management analyst, provided an overview of the licensing service to the council, while Lacey Finance Director Troy Woo made himself available to the council to answer questions.
Woo said later that the chief goal with the proposal is to offer Lacey business owners more convenience and provide some administrative relief for the city. The city, too, doesn’t offer business licensing services online, unlike the state, he said.
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The biggest convenience for Lacey business owners is for those that do business in other jurisdictions. Olympia and Tumwater already use the state’s business licensing service, so a Lacey business owner can take care of licensing needs in those two cities online but then has to make a separate arrangement for a license in Lacey.
“And time is money for business owners,” Woo said.
The state charges a onetime $19 business licensing application fee and a $11 renewal fee per business location, according to a handout at the meeting. That’s on top of Lacey’s business licensing fees.
The council recently made a change to those fees. In April, in addition to the initial business license fee of $25, the city added a $10 annual renewal fee. That also takes effect in 2015.
So, using the state system, plus Lacey’s fees, makes for a total of $44 for the Lacey business owner, plus a total of $21 on a renewal basis if it’s one location.
Lacey council member Michael Steadman asked if city jobs would be lost due to the switch, but Woo said no: Staff would be dedicated to other areas.
Some other business-friendly moves made by the council:
• April: The council approved a three-year business and occupation tax exemption for small, startup businesses that takes effect Jan. 1, 2015. However, the council approved the $10 renewal fee to offset the revenue lost by the B&O tax exemption.
• March: The council approved reducing the city’s gambling tax rate on social card games to 7.5 percent from 10 percent to help Hawk’s Prairie Casino stay in the community and employ about 140.