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City handles business license compliance

A recent letter to the editor commented on city business license practices, and the Boulder City Review went to Jim Petrie, the utility billing and collections supervisor and license officer, to look into the practices.

As of 2013- 14, business licenses are renewed annually in June. The installation of software from Tyler Technology changed billing from semi-annually to annually.

According to Petrie, who has been in his position since December 2008, a renewal notice is sent to all business-license holders before June 1 each year. Renewal fees must be paid by June 30. If licenses are not renewed by this time, the customer is sent on July 1 a past-due notice that includes a $10 late fee. The next city communication to a license holder is a revocation notice sent Aug. 1. At that time, a $20 one-time revocation fee is added .

In addition, Petrie said all revocation records are sent to code enforcement in the Community Development Department for further enforcement.

It has been Petrie’s experience since 2008 that the majority of license renewals, he estimated 80 to 90 percent, reach the city in June. He has only experienced one business license holder ever owing a substantial amount in fines, which can amount to $20 per day.

That particular license holder owed the city money, and according to city regulations, a license cannot be issued if the business owner is in debt to the city for anything other than utility payments. This license holder also had pending issues with Nevada’s business license process but has since come into compliance with the city and is working with the state.

Unfortunately, there is no Internet communication or notification between the city’s license division and the state’s license division to inform each entity of delinquencies.

According to the city’s website, the licensing division “has the authority to investigate complaints regarding licensed and unlicensed businesses within the city limits of Boulder City only. This authority generally relates to a determination of whether a business has a Boulder City business license and whether that license is the proper license for the business activities being conducted.

The department has no jurisdiction to investigate alleged criminal activities, the general business practices of a business, quality of workmanship, pricing of goods or services or monies owed.

“We do get quite a few phone calls of people asking: ‘Is so and so licensed?’ ” Petrie said.

Residents also will ask the license division for a list of licensed businesses and hire from that list, according to Petrie.

He acknowledged that business license enforcement is reactive and not proactive. He said he is unaware of a business without a license until it is brought to his attention.

It is only then that Petrie can act on business license compliance.

“The best way to be proactive is if you have a business license or code enforcement officer in the field,” Petrie said.

C ode enforcement only works eight hours a week. Petrie supervises the city’s utility office and serves as license officer. There is one clerk in the utility office who handles business licenses and utilities.

“We do not have the manpower or time to go out into the field and try to enforce on the proactive side,” he said.

For years, the license division posted a document on the city’s website listing current business license holders. Petrie decided to remove the list at the first of the year because new software was being installed.

The list needed to be manually prepared to keep it current. Petrie made the decision to take the list down because not only was it problematic, but it took a considerable time.

By July 1 the software allowing a business license list to be posted on the Web, among other features, will be in place and “will be fully live,” Petrie said.

As of last Thursday, Petrie said the system was going live, but can’t be “fully live” until next July when the 2014- 15 payments are billed and then received.

Petrie said if any businesses come to the city as of Aug. 19, “They will be processed in the new system and then we still have to convert all of our old files from the old system to the new system.”

Petrie said he encourages residents to call his office at 293-9219 to report businesses that are not licensed.

According to Petrie, the city issued 1,895 licenses for 2013- 14 for $269,239 in revenue.

To find out how to apply for a business license in Boulder City, a potential business owner can go to the city’s website at www.bcnv.org, click on the “Department” tab and then go to “Licenses-Fees.”

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