This isn’t the right time

Published 9:30 pm Monday, March 30, 2009

On a 5-2 vote last week, Chilton County’s Commission asked the county’s representatives in the Alabama Legislature to pass legislation that would charge businesses a license fee to operate in Chilton County.

That bill is being prepared for introduction in the House of Representatives and can pass into law without a vote of the people.

The bill will set out a plan where the commission will choose a license schedule currently being used by any one of the four towns in the county on which to base the amount businesses will have to pay. Once the choice is made, businesses will be charged 75 percent of what they would pay under the chosen city’s license fee schedule.

As an example, if the commission selects the City of Clanton’s fee schedule for its basis, businesses in Clanton would pay 75 percent of what they now pay for a Clanton business license to the commission annually. And, as we understand the proposal, if the Clanton schedule is adopted, all businesses in the county (including those outside Clanton’s city limits) would pay to the county 75 percent of what they would pay if they operated in Clanton.

A business that now pays $1,000 for a business license, based on the City of Clanton’s schedule, would begin paying the county $750 for a license.

We have to assume any licenses levied by the commission would be due at some point after the bill is voted by the legislators into law, but we can only guess when. Therein is our problem. Businesses, especially in the current economic times, need to know how much additional money they will have to pay to do business.

We hope the county commission will provide additional information about their county license bill prior to the bill being introduced in the Legislature. Knowing which municipality’s license fee schedule they plan to use for their base is important to businesses that will have to compute what they will have to pay based on that schedule.

Recent articles in this newspaper have pointed out that the commission expects a $1.3 million shortfall this fiscal year. We would have hoped the commissioners would have considered the businesses in the county that will not meet their own budgets this year when they decided to ask the Legislature to tax businesses during one of the worst economic downturns in the history of our country.