Will a leader step forward at City Hall
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Harry S. Truman defined leadership as "men making history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better." In many cases though, leadership needs to be distinguished from posturing.
There has been a lot of posturing by the Havre City Council members regarding business licenses and their decision to put the business license proposal on the back burner. Last week the Planning and Development Committee failed to submit an ordinance to the Council requiring businesses to apply for a business license with the city. Instead, the committee acquiesced and proposed a voluntary "business registry." The idea of a voluntary "business registry" is so farfetched that it's laughable not only in theory but in reality.
Sometimes someone needs to stand up and say we need to do this because it's right, regardless of what others may think. Leaders lead, make tough decisions and build consensus to get the job done. The interests of a few can't override what's good for the whole. In this case the whole, i.e. residents and city, are better off when businesses are required to have a license in order to operate within the city limits. Perhaps the advantages of requiring a license could have been communicated better.
A voluntary informal poll conducted by the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce, while offering some insight on the issue, should not be the basis for determining whether businesses should be required to have a license to operate within the city. It's the City Council's job to do what's in the best interest of all concerned, and in this case, the residents and the city are better off when business licenses are required. No one wants more local regulation, including the Havre Daily News, but we see this ordinance as protecting our business interest as well as that of our business neighbors.
The city should know the number of businesses operating within the city limits, as well as the number of people they employ, if anything, to gage the economic health of the city. Required licensing would clarify a wealth of information, such as: Is the city growing economically or retrenching, and does the city have a vibrant retail and employment base? The information acquired by the city can also be used for tourism and promoting the area, attracting new business to the city and families looking to relocate. The issue of requiring business licenses is the right thing to do on so many levels that it cries for a leader to step forward and see it through to completion.
Based upon public input at several Pl a n n i n g a n d D e v e l o pme n t Committee meetings, an overwhelming majority of residents want to know, and be reassured, that no new medical marijuana growing or dispensary operations will be allowed to set up shop in residential or school areas. Requiring a business license, as well as updating the city's zoning map, will ensure that these businesses and other businesses can only operate in areas zoned for their type of operation. Residential areas need to stay residential; proper zoning will ensure that this happens, while preserving home values and neighborhood appeal. Every new business coming to town should have to apply for a business license in order to ensure compliance with building codes, sign ordinances, parking requirements, etc. The city should know what's going on within its boundaries and enforce compliance with city codes and ordinances for the good and safety of everyone.
The question remains, who on the City Council will step forward to lead the business license ordinance through the enactment process?