Business owners in the community gave a mixed response to having a business license in the city.
Fifty-three, or roughly 20 percent, of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce's members, responded anonymously to a survey sent through www.surveymonkey.com that sought feedback on whether business owners were in favor of a business license.
"A lot of them felt they already pay taxes ... ," the Chamber's executive director Debbie Vandeberg said. "So why couldn't the city get the information off of that?"
Another concern was the speed of the process.
"They feel that the process is moving quickly and that maybe not a lot of thought is going into the process," Vandeberg said.
Others were in favor of the license, with one respondent saying that they should have been implemented years ago, she added.
Mayor Tim Solomon said that, although survey comments seemed scattered, it also seemed that there is a lot of support for the licenses. "But there was definitely favorable and opposed," he added.
The city is working to formulate a business license to help with zoning code revisions to incorporate medical marijuana businesses and newly annexed properties from Hill County, where zoning codes are different.
"Zoning is the biggest reason," Solomon said about why the city is working toward the license requirement.
"That we're trying to update our zoning ordinance and districts.
"Medical marijuana is just another reason ... . It's not the sole reason," he added.
The Planning and Development Committee has discussed the license several times and is still working on details as far as what types of businesses will be required to register and what, if any, fee will be charged.
The committee is considering exempting some home-based businesses and requiring owners with businesses based near and who do large amounts of business in the city to obtain a permit instead of a license.
"For our purposes for zoning, we don't need to know somebody that's doing CPA work at home," committee Chairperson Janet Trethewey said this morning. "There's no impact on the neighborhood."
But home-based businesses like a beauty salon in a basement would need to register because of community impacts such as traffic, she said.
Businesses based near Havre often provide services in the city, and the committee is discussing how best to register those.
"We've got to cover all these bases," Trethewey said.
Committee discussion pertaining to a fee has varied, but the concern has been to keep it reasonable.
Ten survey respondents said that they were willing to pay a $25 fee, while 11 said no fee, Vandeberg said.
The remaining responses were mixed, with some giving a range they would be willing to pay and others giving specific amounts.
"So it was all over the map," she said.
Fifty percent of the people saying they would pay a fee and that they would like to see that money used for streets and sidewalks repair, according to the survey results, and 18 percent responded that the money should be used for the greater good of the community.
Concern also existed that the fee would be raised in the future, Vandeberg said.
Solomon said that his perception was that as long as the fee is reasonable, "there's not a lot of opposition."
If a fee is charged, part of it will be used to cover administrative costs, he said, but if there is an excess, it can be used for a number of projects.
An example of a project would be planting flowers in planters along 1st Street, he said.
"It helps the local businesses to beautify the area," he added.
Also, updating the website would allow business owners to renew registrations online instead of by paper, he said.
"But I think (the thing is) to keep it low so we're not looking at a big excess," he said.
T h e P l a n n i n g a n d Development Committee next meets Tuesday, July 13, at 5:15
p. m. in City Hall.