Houston & Peach

Warner Robins aims to lower temporary business fees

The Warner Robins City Council is preparing to pass a measure that will make it cheaper for transient vendors to open up shop in town.

Currently, businesses operating in the city limits for less than 12 months are required to pay a minimum licensing fee of $100 per day, according to city code.

Though it has been in place for years, the fee structure recently became an issue when a Halloween costume store applied for a license to do business in Warner Robins for 61 days, said City Clerk Bill Harte.

“The way the code section is written now, their transient vendor permit license would have been $6,100,” said Harte, who suggested the ordinance change. “We kind of thought that was a little unfair. ... I don’t want to discourage any kind of business from coming to Warner Robins.”

The amended ordinance, first read Monday, would make the cost of licenses for transient vendors equal to the flat-rate occupation tax that permanent businesses pay annually plus $15 per day for every day of operation, Harte said. The amount of occupation tax a business pays depends on the type of business and number of employees.

If the Halloween costume store opened for business for at least a year, its occupation tax would have totalled $365, Harte said. If the ordinance is adopted, with the added $15 per day fee, the store would pay a little more than $1,000 as opposed to paying $6,100.

The new fee structure would apply to fireworks vendors and other temporary businesses.

“We want businesses to come here even if it is on a temporary basis (because) maybe they’ll open up full-time, you know? Who knows?” Harte said. “The other side of the argument was, we don’t want to make it overly easy for transient vendors to come in because ... we want to have businesses yearlong. So, (the city wants) to protect the permanent businesses and to make the fee structure a little more fair for transient vendors.”

A second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for Sept. 8.

Harte said there was no indication the council opposes the measure.

“If there’s no issues, I don’t see it not passing,” Harte said.

In a separate matter, the council unanimously passed an updated version of its sanitation ordinance. Sections of the ordinance were reorganized. There were no changes except the fee for tree disposal, which increased from $81.11 to $100.

To contact writer Laura Corley, call 744-4334 or follow her on Twitter@Lauraecor.