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Council OKs break for home-based businesses

Holiday from permits and renewals will last until June 30, 2013


In an attempt to get a more accurate number of home-based businesses in West Linn, during its June 25 meeting the West Linn City Council approved a one-year holiday from permits and renewals.

The council adopted a one-year program that forgives all home occupation permits and renewals from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013. The permits and renewals will still be required, but the fees will be waived. On top of that, the city will grant amnesty to those who are delinquent.

Heading up the proposed program is Chris Kerr, who was appointed as the city's economic development director at the beginning of June.

The reason behind the proposed program is to get a grasp of how many businesses really are in West Linn, especially the number of home-based ones.

To get at that number, during a June 4 city council work session, Kerr originally proposed a one-year amnesty from licensing fees for all businesses that have not obtained a license or have lapsed on renewals as well as the home occupation permits. The hope is that more people will step up and register their businesses.

However, city councilors balked at the $41,000 potential loss in revenue and suggested a hybrid model, which is what was approved Monday. The new option would result in a loss of about $6,800.

By removing all the penalties, Kerr hopes to encourage compliance from those businesses that are not currently in the city's system.

The city currently requires licenses for all for-gain businesses within city boundaries, with the exception of garage sales. Also, all home occupations need a permit and pay an annual fee to the city. All home occupations must renew their licenses annually. It is $100 for a new permit and $10 a year to renew.

As of today, there are 1,245-licensed businesses in West Linn, and 423 of them are home occupations. The city expects to collect $38,000 in revenue from those businesses this year.

The reason behind the fee holiday is that the staff thinks the licensing program is being underused as a resource to serve the business community.

The waiver, during the current recession, could be beneficial to home businesses. It will also expand the city's inventory of businesses and help the city get a feel for what kind of businesses are operating in West Linn.

As a result of the vote, the city will need to modify the Master Fees and Charges Schedule, which the council approved June 11. The modification would reflect zero revenue for home occupation permits.