License details missing

Published 10:53 pm Monday, April 13, 2009

Chilton County’s commissioners voted 4- 3 Monday to continue their effort to have a local bill passed this legislative session that, if passed, would allow the commission to put into operation a plan to sell business licenses to all businesses in the county.

The vote to continue the quest came at the end of a public hearing in Monday’s meeting, at which several voiced opposition to the idea. The opposition was not as much against the possible license fee but against the fact that the commission has asked the bill to be passed without knowing what the county plans to charge for the proposed business licenses.

The commissioners favoring the passage of the bill said they wanted to make sure the local bill would pass the legislature before working out the details of how much to charge.

Therein is our problem with their proposed business license bill.

The proposed bill only specifies that the commission can charge up to the same amount a municipality in the county now charges a business. If the county commission chooses the City of Clanton’s business license fee schedule as its basis, it can charge businesses throughout the county a rate up to the amount charged by Clanton. The proposed local bill does not specify any rates and would leave it to the discretion of the commission to set the rates.

The commissioners supporting the local bill said the rate structure for the licenses would be set by a resolution of the commission, and they would work to keep the rate structure fair and reasonable. We believe this commission would do that.

Of course, such a resolution could be changed by this or a future commission if additional funding is needed. Backed by the local bill, future commissioners could determine businesses throughout the county should pay the same rates charged by the City of Clanton even though the businesses do not operate within the City of Clanton.

It is a fact that the county commission needs additional funds to meet its obligations this year. The majority of the commission believes the only avenue they have to meeting these obligations is to charge a license for businesses to operate within the county.

We hope the commissioners will meet soon and determine what businesses will have to pay. Had they done so before they passed the resolution asking the legislature to pass the local bill and advised businesses, tradesmen/women and others who will be required to purchase a county business license of their plan, we all wouldn’t be in the dark on the subject as we are now.