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03.09.07 -- REPORT: McIntosh to drop occupational license ordinance

By CHER PHILLIPS

New legislation opened to the door for the McIntosh Town Council to drop their occupational license ordinance, voting to let it expire. The Florida League of Cities sent McIntosh a notice that if they wanted to keep an occupational license, they would need to write and adopt a new ordinance.

The council voted 3-2 against keeping the town's ordinance. Marion County dropped their business licenses last year. Council President Frank Ciotti and Councilwoman Eva Jo Callahan voted against letting the ordinance expire.

Occupational license is now going to fall under a new code, called a local business tax. To continue with an occupational license, McIntosh would have to write a new ordinance and the costs for advertising it would be more than $800.

Currently, a McIntosh occupational license costs $5.25.

In the past, Councilwoman Eunice Smith said former councils have wanted to raise this license fee to $25 but ran into problems, because past laws only allowed incrimental hikes. Smith voted for letting the ordinance expire.

Attorney Scott Walker explained that the new occupational license would allow municipalities to charge at the most $25 a year.

"They've opened the door, you can still only establish a $25 license and then only increase it a small amount every year thereafter," Walker said.

"I think it'd be a very viable way to earn money in the town. why not take advantage of an income opportunity?" Ciotti said. He thought it that since the Florida League of Cities had already written most of an ordinance, it would be cost effective for the town to create a new ordinance now rather than later.

But several other council members disagreed.

Council Vice President Howard Walkup said he would rather let it expire now and take it up in two years if they needed it.

Councilwoman Eva Jo Callahan was in favor of creating a new ordinance now, rather than later, noting that it could cost more to advertise and create the ordinance later. Callahan suggested that the expense of creating the license now could be made up in time.




Listen to the discussion about letting the occupational ordinance expire:
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Town Clerk Debbie Miller said that she looked it up and the town only made $297.50. Yet, she said in the meeting that the town only issued 25 business licenses.

In the McIntosh yearly budget reports, the budget line for business licenses has been combined with permits. If there are only 25 permits in McIntosh, at $5.25 a license, the town's current occupational license yield would be closer to $131.25.

However, if the town does make $297.50, as Miller said, strictly in license fees, then the number of licenses in town would be higher -- as many as 56 -- making a new $25 more lucrative for the town. Fees for 56 licenses at $25 would be $1,400 and easily recouping the fees for passing a new ordinance.

"The question is in my mind, coming from a business background and not a governmental background, is why are we doing this?" Miller said. She said it takes her two days to write the business licenses out and that made her want to ask if keeping it was worth it.

Walkup and Walker agreed that historically, previous councils wanted to raise the fees to $25 but it was too much of a hike, and that they'd kept the occupational license in town as a way of controlling who had businesses in town.

Walkup suggested it might be a way of controlling who did businesses during the 1890's Festival.

"In this day of sexual predators, I'd like to know who's in town," said Councilwoman Eva Jo Callahan.

Deaderick argued against keeping an ordinance, because the town couldn't deny anybody a license and he said did not see a reason for it and motioned that the council take no action and let the current occupational license expire.

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posted by Cher @ 12:17 PM,

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Editor and Publisher:

I'm Cher From McIntosh, FL I'm a graduate student at the University of Florida working on a master's degree in Mass Communication. While I was finishing my undergrad degree in journalism last year, I reported on McIntosh, Fla. for an in-depth reporting class. I figured that the reporting and the public record files should go somewhere people can access them. Reporters don't report to keep the information they find to themselves. Some of that reporting is included here in a forum that allows response. McIntosh suffers because with no news coverage, the local government and the rumor mill have too much potential to run rampant over residents. I moved to McIntosh in the fall of 1999. My profile

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The primary purpose of this blog is to accurately reflect what happens in town public meetings and dispel rumors. I record the meetings and make them available for download. One of the goals of this blog is to offer residents a place to voice opinions. The comments, views and opinions expressed there are not necessarily those of the editor.

 
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