Another chapter in the epic saga of Havre’s business license law was quietly unfolding at Wednesday’s meeting, as the committee took another look at the ordinance which members hope will finally get a business license established.
Andrew Brekke, councilman and chair of the Ordinance Committee, has been a part of this discussion for years and feels it’s time to stop talking and do something.
“Havre is a Class One city and it’s time to start acting like one,” Brekke said after the meeting.
The committee members agree that a business license is necessary for future planning and responsible growth in Havre.
The way the ordinance is set up now would require businesses to register with the city and pay a $25 licensing fee.
If businesses do not register within 90 days of the ordinance taking effect, as has been the case with the current voluntary registrations, they face a $100 fine.
If businesses still don’t register after 120 days, the ordinance says they will be ordered to cease and desist and face prosecution.
Councilman Cal Long said he didn’t want to view business owners as criminals. Agreeing with Long, the rest of the committee agreed that for the first year the 120-day penalty should be another fine of $250.
The committee wants to hear everyone’s thoughts on the concept while it is still in committee where changes can be made, handing it now to city attorneys and city employees. They hope to avoid situations similar to some they have run into lately in which they've recieved e-mails voicing concerns after the law has already been read over and edited repeatedly, then voted on twice.
The hope is to hear people’s thoughts over the next week, take these into consideration at the next meeting, the date and time of which will be announced at the Council meeting on Monday, Nov. 15.
Then the hope is to have a final draft for the first meeting in December and have it pass final reading at the second meeting and go into effect early in 2011.
Brekke thinks it won’t be easy, but it is important.
“Once people get into the spirit, so to say, it will work itself out,” Brekke said. “But it’s going to be impossible for the first year.”