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Should the City require a business license?

City has discussed the possibility in the past, but has so far shied away adding the requirement
Companies who choose to do business in Prineville will likely encounter a list of requirements from local government as they prepare to open their doors.
   However, unlike many communities, they won’t need to obtain a business license — and it has been that way for at least the past 30 years.
   “We have talked about it a couple times in the past,” said Prineville City Councilor Steve Uffelman, who has served on the Council since 1985. “We have tended to shy away from business licenses.”
   He explained that the City wants to encourage businesses to locate in Prineville and consequently wants to eliminate as many fees and hoops as possible.
   Nevertheless, the possibility has again received some attention as Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe indicated she would like the City to require a business license.
   “I like to know what businesses are coming to town,” she said. “If an alarm goes off in a business, the police department doesn’t know who to call. How would they?”
   At this point, Roppe has not officially brought forth a business license requirement for Council consideration. However, she has discussed the possibility of a business license with several local companies.
   So far, the idea has generated mixed reviews. While some see value in it, others consider it an attempt to generate more revenue.
   “They said that in reality, it’s really just a business tax,” she said.
   While Roppe understands that viewpoint, she stressed that the point of the requirement is not to make more money for the City.
   “As far as I am concerned, it can be anything from $5 to $25,” she said of the potential license fee.
   Uffelman is not completely averse to requiring a business license, but feels the City needs to consider all of the consequences first.
   “We looked at the benefits (in the past) and believe me there are significant benefits to having business licenses, one of which is . . . we at least know who has what business. Therefore, when there is a problem, we have a name of somebody to contact,” he said.
   At the same time, he feels that concerns over cost and other issues could arise.
   “Once you open the magical box, what sorts of restrictions and limitations come out of that?” Uffelman asked. “What sorts of costs are incurred by the business owners so that we can maintain all of that information?”
   Book and Bean owner Joe Becker said he could go either way on a business license requirement. He feels the current system leaves business owners one less hurdle and one less expense to deal with. On the other hand, he feels the requirement would help the City ensure that companies are following the rules.
   “(Without a business license) they don’t have that checks and balances system or the investment of having to have that license and knowing that they are being watched,” Becker said.
   One thing that does not factor into his feelings on a business licenses is the fee. As far as he is concerned, the fee would serve to fund the paperwork process, not supply additional revenue for the City.
   Whether or not the City chooses to implement a business license at some point in the future, Becker hopes they discuss the matter thoroughly before making a decision.
   “It may be at the point where it makes sense, but it may be at the point that we’ve done without it long enough, it isn’t really necessary.”