City to consider business licenses

City council resolution will be introduced on April 8

The City of Homer will begin consideration of establishing a city business license.

According to Community Development Director Julie Engebretsen, the Homer City Council will introduce a resolution at their next regular meeting on April 8, requesting that the Economic Development Advisory Commission provide input on a business license program.

Currently, Engebretsen wrote in an email to Homer News, the expectation is that an ordinance will come before the council in June.

The EDC will begin preliminary business license consideration at their meeting on April 9, after the April 8 council meeting. A city website with information and meeting dates is tentatively scheduled to launch on April 10, according to Engebretsen.

Further dates for business license consideration currently include a potential luncheon panel with the Homer Chamber of Commerce sometime in May, as well as the EDC regular meeting scheduled for May 14.

According to a March 12 memorandum from Engebretsen to the EDC, the city council spent time over the winter identifying priorities that they wanted to work on, including a city business license program, and assigning council members to each task.

The license topic was introduced at the March 11 city council meeting in a report from council member Caroline Venuti. Homer is reportedly “one of the few communities that lack business licenses,” excepting food trucks, taxis and itinerant businesses.

“Seward is a good example of a city that seems to work well with their business licenses,” Venuti said at the March 11 council meeting. “It’s a user-friendly application online.”

According to a March 1 informational memorandum from council member Venuti to the mayor and city council, business licenses can provide an effective way to collect data for addresses and zones of Homer businesses, as well as emergency contact numbers that can be used by the fire or police departments. Venuti also noted that business licenses could provide further safety components including ADA compliance, and a potential increase in sales tax compliance and collection if the business is not paying borough tax or does not have their license through the State of Alaska.

At this time, city staff is gathering information and holding discussions about what establishing a city business license would entail and how it would impact Homer business owners. The EDC and staff will hold community conversations before sending comments back to the council, leading up to the city council’s introduction of a business license ordinance.

On March 11, Venuti said that in discussion between herself, Mayor Ken Castner and EDC Chair Karin Marks, they agreed that “the way to have an ordinance pass is to clearly get it out for public (feedback).”

In 2011 the city proposed Ordinance 11-01 requiring a business license to engage in business in Homer. The ordinance was defeated.

The next Homer City Council regular meeting will be held on Monday, April 8 at 6 p.m. in the Homer City Hall Cowles Council Chambers.

The next EDC regular meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 9 in the Cowles Council Chambers.