Crowsnest Pass council approves business licence payment plan

·3 min read

Licence to Kill, the 16th James Bond film produced, was initially titled Licence Revoked. Producers decided to change the title after test audiences in the United States thought the title referred to having driving privileges removed.

As a result of government-mandated shutdowns, businesses across the province likely felt their own business licences were revoked as many were forced to temporarily close.

Crowsnest Pass council considered altering the cost of renewing business licences during its Feb. 23 regular council meeting after a local business owner submitted a letter requesting fees for the 2021 business licence be reconsidered.

General, resident business licences cost $125. General non-resident licences are $360. The municipality typically collects about $68,000 each year.

With establishments like hair salons, barbershops and restaurants being unable to operate for the full term their 2020 licence permitted, Mayor Blair Painter said adjusting expectations for 2021 was not unreasonable.

“There’s already a big enough hardship on them,” he said.

While acknowledging some municipalities in the province have outrightly waived licence fees for small businesses, council was unsure how it would best determine if a business actually needed support.

“I would have no problem with the approach if a business could show a certain amount of loss,” said Coun. Dean Ward, “but I know several businesses that had their best year ever and collected $60,000 from the federal government, 20 of which they don’t have to pay back. I don’t want to see us get into that kind of situation.”

With over 75 per cent of businesses having already purchased their 2021 licences, Coun. Sygutek added, waiving fees for the whole community just wasn’t feasible and probably wouldn’t make much of a difference.

“If 125 is going to make or break your business, then you got problems from Day 1,” she said. “Reimbursing 300 business licences would also be a tremendous amount of work.”

Rather than forgiving fees, Coun. Sygutek continued, council could simply forego charging interest on late payments until the summer.

Chief administrative officer Patrick Thomas suggested a route similar to overdue taxes could also be an option.

“If someone requires or needs it for this year, we look at a payment plan [for licence fees] instead,” he said.

“We do that with taxes, utilities — when someone gets behind you set up a payment plan so someone else can identify that they’re at least paying towards it and they’re not just ignoring it,” CAO Thomas continued. “If they are just going to ignore it, they’ll fall under the normal processes that we’ll try to pursue to deal with it.”

Council accepted the suggestion and approved creating an option for businesses to utilize a payment plan for their 2021 licence fees.

The next regular council meeting will be held Tuesday, March 9, at 7 p.m. at the MDM Community Centre in Bellevue. Agenda packages are available online at https://bit.ly/CNPagenda.

Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze