Business license haggling continues

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Revisions include enforcement by sheriff


Questions remain over who will or won’t have to purchase one, but one thing is certain: enforcement of the county’s business license ordinance could soon be conducted by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.
During its meeting last Tuesday night, the Anderson County Fiscal Court held a first reading on the ordinance that included a lengthy debate on whether commercial and residential landlords, and a list of others, should be required to buy a business license.
They also discussed having the ordinance enforced by Sheriff Troy Young, whose office would receive 30 percent of the revenue generated by the licenses.
That would be a significant change in policy. The licenses are now dealt with by the county clerk’s office, which collects the fees, and the fiscal court’s code enforcement officer, who enforces compliance.
Having Young oversee enforcement would put the ordinance under one roof, and could result in more businesses complying with the ordinance.
Deciding who will and won’t have to purchase a license, though, dominated the bulk of last Tuesday’s meeting, which included an ill-fated attempt to set a scale for commercial and residential landlords.
Judge-Executive John Wayne Conway proposed a scale ranging from $15 to $60, based on the number of units a landlord has.
That idea passed 5-1, with Magistrate David Ruggles voting no.
Conway then proposed the same scale for commercial landlords, which failed after ending in a 3-3 tie. Voting for it were Conway, magistrates Forest Dale Stevens and Juretta Wells. Opposed were magistrates Ruggles, Buddy Sims and Kenny Barnett. Magistrate David Montgomery was absent from the meeting.
That sparked a debate over determining how many units a landlord actually has, followed by questions as to why, unlike other businesses, the fee isn’t set by the number of people landlords employ.
Magistrates then voted to overturn their previous vote on residential landlords, including Ruggles, who has voiced his disdain over business licenses several times in recent months.
The ordinance, which was enacted in 1981, has seen several revisions over the years as the fiscal court attempted to make it easier to enforce and more fair for business owners.
Objections to enforcement surfaced last year when some businesses claimed they didn’t know it existed but were forced to pay hundreds of dollars for not having licenses.
The revision doesn’t make changes to the list of exempt businesses, which includes farmers, wholesale businesses, trade shows or conventions, catalogue sales, sales offered by religious, charitable or public service organizations, vendors at the 127 Yard Sale, handmade items, locally grown agricultural products and “sales made by a seller at a residential premises pursuant to an invitation issued by the owner.”
The revised ordinance adds a $25 administrative fee for those who pay late or not at all.
A second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for April 16.

Address changes OK’d for Ballard Road
The Anderson County Fiscal Court approved changing street numbers for four homes on Ballard Road in an effort to make it easier for emergency responders to locate them.
The requested change came from code enforcement officer Doug Ingram, who said those residences were numbered in the 2000s despite being between houses numbered between 1500 and 1600.
“It’s a public safety issue,” Ingram said, adding that it’s very difficult for fire and EMS to locate those residences because of their out-of-sequence numbers.
Another problem is that those residences, because of where they are, have Salvisa mailing addresses, an issue Magistrate Kenny Barnett said he wants changed, too.
Judge-Executive John Wayne Conway said the court worked years ago with post offices to get that changed, but were unsuccessful.
Barnett, who represents Ballard Road as part of his magisterial district, said he told one resident there that he would try to get the mailing address and house number issues changed at the same time, saving those affected from changing their addresses more than once.
Conway said he’d like to do the same, but told Barnett that the only thing the fiscal court could do is change the house numbers. He said the fiscal court could request address changes, but suggested changing the house numbers that night to address immediate safety concerns.
Barnett, citing his discussion with that resident, cast the only vote against changing the house numbers.

Loose horses on Crooked Creek Road
Conway informed magistrates that animal control is dealing with horses that have been turned loose on Crooked Creek Road.
“The owners just let them run because they’re worth nothing,” Conway said.

Ingram resigns
Code enforcement office Doug Ingram has resigned, Conway announced at the end of Tuesday’s meeting.
Ingram, who was hired by Conway shortly after he took office in 2011, will be missed, Conway said.

Recycling truck racks up repair bills
The fiscal court grudgingly approved $6,200 in repairs to the county’s recycling truck, which was purchased used last year.
The truck, which had engine problems, is used to pick up recyclables from city residents as well as businesses.

Funds for senior center, adult program
The fiscal court unanimously approved keeping funding levels the same in the coming year for the Anderson Adult Day Program ($4,500) and the Anderson County Senior Center ($33,500).

Jailer’s budget approved
The fiscal court unanimously approved Jailer Joani Clark’s proposed $794,735 budget for 2013-14. The total amount is the same as the current budget, and includes $623,600 to house inmates in other counties.