Business

Poulsbo may revise business license system, fees

POULSBO — The City of Poulsbo wants to make renewing and getting a business license easier for local business owners.

City Council members on Wednesday unanimously approved looking into contracting with Washington state Department of Licensing's Master License Service. Council members are also considering changing license fees, charging new and existing business owners the same amount.

The Master License Service program provides the administrative components of the licensing process, such as applications, insurance and renewals. In addition, it performs follow-up contact with applicants and licensees for missing information or fees, refunds overpayments and maintains a record of any filings.

There are 44 cities using the program, including Gig Harbor, Port Orchard, Port Townsend and Sequim.

Mayor Becky Erickson said the system would help business owners and the city.

"This would increase the city's licensing enforcement, give us better reporting and auditing capabilities and it would be a one-stop shop for business owners as they could easily renew or receive a license online," she said.

Administrative costs to the city are minimal and include credit card processing fees and fees for some of the online reporting features. The city would spend about $30 per month on the program.

"We have been working hard as a council over the last year to try to bring down the cost of new businesses," said Councilman Ed Stern, who chairs the city's Economic Development Committee. "We want to be as business-friendly as possible, while still trying to be active in economic development."

City Council members believe implementing standardized license fees for existing and new businesses will be beneficial to owners and the community.

In the past 20 years, new-business owners paid a fee of $75 and existing-business owners paid $50. Under the new plan, both would pay $65.

"This seems small, but this little action could have a bigger effect," Stern said. "We will be watched carefully by the state and other cities, as we could be a formula for stabilizing other cities' (licensing fees)."

The city also wants to give $5 of the collected business fees to the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance. The alliance assists local governments and businesses in marketing and business recruitment, local business retention and expansion, product development, and community relations and public policy.

"I think it is important for us to support the alliance because they support our county and give us essential data we need to continue to do well," Erickson said. "They are a great resource for new businesses in our community."

If approved, the fee would take effect in January.

 

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