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Business licenses to bring in $87,000

Money raised goes to the General Fund
By: Stephanie Dumm, News Messenger Reporter
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Home-based businesses make up a majority of 10 to 15 business license applications received by the city each week. That’s according to Lincoln’s Assistant City Manager/Chief Financial Officer Anna Jatczak. She cited the economy as a reason for most of those 10 to 15 applications being for home-based businesses. “We think that since a lot of them are for home-based businesses, that people are maybe getting laid off of work and trying to start something from their homes,” Jatczak said. Currently, 2,000 business licenses are issued in the city of Lincoln, Jatczak said, and revenue from the business license tax goes to the General Fund. For this fiscal year, Jatczak said, the city has “projected approximately $87,000 in revenue” from business licenses. For a business with a storefront, a new business would pay $60 for the first year and $35 a year to renew, Jatczak said. The $60 is comprised of a $30 business license tax and a $30 business license application fee, Jatczak said. A home-based business pays $65 annually, Jatczak said, which is made up of a $30 business license tax and a $35 home business application permit. “The business license application process is something that goes through development services,” Jatczak said. “The planner will check for the appropriateness of the business that is requesting the license, check to see what area they are doing business in and see if the business is an appropriate use of zoning.” Jatczak said “there is no active enforcement” to collect on unpaid business license fees. “Neither the police department, administrative services or code enforcement is staffed to do that,” Jatczak said. It has been at least two years since the police department “has helped in the business license arena,” said Lincoln Police Chief Paul Shelgren. “We did assist City Hall with going out and verifying that businesses were still in business and give them a letter to go to City Hall to update their business license,” Shelgren said. “We haven’t done that this fiscal year because we don’t have the staffing to do it.” Jatczak said unpaid business license fees mean “lost revenue for the city.” The News Messenger asked Jatczak how much money is missing from businesses that have not paid their fees for the year. “We recently sent out approximately 2,000 business license renewal letters,” Jatczak said. “Hypothetically, if we only received 1,800 back, we would have no way of knowing if the business had ceased to exist or if the owner decided not to pay, especially with the home-based businesses.” The News Messenger polled downtown business owners about the fees. “I think it’s fair,” said Alma Guzman, Alma’s Bridal Boutique owner. “I don’t have experience from other places but it’s affordable.” Leslie Campbell, The Green Goat owner, said the “city could benefit by raising the prices even 10 percent.” “Business licenses in Lincoln are quite affordable and the renewals aren’t taxing,” Campbell said. “I don’t know what other cities charge but I think it’s affordable.”