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Salt Lake County modernizes business license ordinance

Published February 20, 2013 7:39 am

S.L. County • Updated ordinance eliminates 45 fees, aims to encourage entrepreneurs.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Bagatelle halls no longer have a place in Salt Lake County's business license ordinance.

Draymen are out, too.

Both were excised — along with shooting galleries, scavengers and chicken hatcheries — from the ordinance as it was trimmed from 281 pages to 132 by the county Planning and Development Division.

The yearlong editing process also eliminated 45 fees for specialized business licenses — such as $30 for an indoor, year-round miniature golf course or $150 for a slaughterhouse.

"They weren't really relevant to business owners or to us in regulating them," said Brittany Grimes, division permitting and license supervisor.

And that sits just fine with leaders of two local chambers of commerce that helped county officials to remove provisions no longer relevant in the modern business world.

"The main goal was to simplify, and they've done that," said Magna Chamber of Commerce President Bennion Gardner. "We've had businesses that tried to open in Magna, but getting business licenses sometimes was difficult. They had to spend a lot of money and time getting licenses before they could open their doors. So they would start out in the hole immediately — which is hard for a small business to do."

Now was the time to update the document, added Alan Anderson, president/CEO of ChamberWest Regional Chamber of Commerce, which covers Kearns, West Valley City and Taylorsville, and the East Valley Regional Chamber in Millcreek.

"With any rebounding economy, it's the entrepreneurs of the world who come into play," said Anderson, whose chambers represent about 3,000 unincorporated-area businesses. "It should be easier now to start a business in Millcreek or Kearns."

Gardner said the old ordinance often confused county officials as much as licensees, a criticism not disputed by Grimes' boss, Division Director Rolen Yoshinaga.

"It was just running us around in circles, trying to effectively apply and enforce the ordinance," he said, noting that his staff frequently came away from readings of specific provisions saying, " 'This is crazy. Why are we doing this?' At the time some of these provisions were added [to the ordinance] I'm sure there was a good reason. But, over time, they've become non-issues."

Like the requirement for a drayman to have a license.

"I had to go to the dictionary to find out what a drayman was. It's the driver of a sled or cart to haul cargo around," Yoshinaga said, noting it might apply these days only to the "guy driving the Budweiser Clydesdales when they're in town. We're not going to make the Clydesdale driver get a license. It's just silly little things like that that have been around for a while."

He has no idea when Salt Lake County had its last bagatelle hall. But there was a time when the county saw fit to charge an extra $30 per table to regulate businesses where people played the billiards game in which nine balls had to be directed through a series of wooden pins and into a hole.

No more. Nor will the county require a special business license for rooms where people play "backgammon, cards, checkers or other games of similar nature, or any game played with beans, buttons, dice or similar devices."

Yoshinaga cited several other oddities removed from the books. Laundromat owners will be spared a fee of $6 per washing machine — and county officials won't have to put stickers on machines to show the fee was paid — while grocery stores won't be charged an extra fee based on the gallons of milk in the store.

"We scratched all of those," he said.

All that remains in the ordinance are chapters dealing with businesses regulated by state or federal governments — establishments selling alcohol and tobacco, massage parlors and sexually oriented businesses, residential solicitors, taxi companies, check cashers and alarm businesses.

Chamber leader Anderson was pleased that the consolidated fee schedule was revenue-neutral for the county. "If it costs $150 to process it, the business license should cost $150, not $200. Don't turn it into a revenue center."

The County Council voted 6-1 last week in favor of the revisions. Council member Randy Horiuchi cast the lone nay vote, citing concerns about the appeals process, but most council members shared the perspective of Arlyn Bradshaw.

"I'm glad we're simplifying things but not neglecting our necessary oversight," he said.

mikeg@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltribmikeg —

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