City to continue considering business license program

The Economic Development Advisory Commission is researching the merits and impacts of a city business license at the City Council’s request

The Economic Development Advisory Commission will continue their investigation into the merits and impacts of implementing a city business licensing program at their next regular meeting in August.

Homer City Council and commissions typically take a break for the month of July, but will resume work the following month.

The council passed Resolution 24-039(A) at their April 8 regular meeting, giving direction to the EDC regarding the creation of a city business licensing program, which Homer does not currently have. The resolution was sponsored by Mayor Ken Castner and council member Caroline Venuti, and purports interest in a city business license for the purposes of “enhancing public safety, ensuring compliance with existing regulations, and providing opportunities for connections between the City and businesses.”

The investigation into business licensing was originally begun by Castner and Venuti, as well as EDC Chair Karin Marks, acting as champions for the project. However, according to the resolution, they also “wished to have the EDC take time to discuss and develop the idea further.”

At their last regular meeting on Tuesday, June 11, community development director Julie Engebretsen also noted that there was “a lot of hesitancy” from the council, when considering Resolution 24-039, whether or not to keep moving forward on the issue of a citywide business license. In the end, the council was largely interested in hearing further information on the subject, Engebretsen said.

The EDC is currently planning to hold a work session in August to put together their recommendations to be submitted to the council. A date for the work session has not yet been scheduled.

Prior to the work session, EDC members divided a list of tasks among themselves to investigate and bring back their findings. These tasks or topics for investigation include:

the proper level of license requirements;

the potential costs of licensure for Homer businesses;

the potential costs for the city to administer the program;

conducting outreach to the Homer Chamber of Commerce and business community;

looking into how the city can engage with the State of Alaska Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing and not duplicate the services available and information collected by that entity;

determining the pros and cons of a city business licensing program, consideration of a “no cost program” for data collection purposes only;

the challenges and benefits of local business licensing programs in other Alaska communities;

considering enforcement plans;

and investigating what are the other existing licenses required in city limits, and how those licenses will be effected, changed, streamlined or overlap.

There was also discussion during the June 11 meeting of the Homer Chamber of Commerce coordinating with the EDC and potentially conducting a survey or forum with the public on the city business license issue.

The next regular meeting of the Economic Development Advisory Commission will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 13 at 6 p.m. in the Homer City Hall Cowles Council Chambers, and by Zoom.