Some business license fees and fines in the city of Las Vegas will increase next year, but the Las Vegas City Council nixed a pair of tax increases, agreeing with business leaders that the measures would amount to kicking businesses when they’re already down.
“Today, I’d like this bill to die, and that’s my motion,” said Councilman Steve Ross.
“The bill’s going to die. The problem’s not going to die,” said Mayor Oscar Goodman, who added that while he was uneasy with the proposed increases, the city will need to find revenue for its cash-strapped operating budget.
“We’ve got to find ways to raise money,” Goodman said. “Unless we find ways … the services that we provide to all the folks in the community are going to start to erode.”
On a 6-0 vote, the council threw out an ordinance that would have slightly increased the business license fee paid every six months by businesses. The fee is based on gross sales.
Also tossed was a proposal to require commercial property landlords to get a business license, which is not required in the city now. Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian was absent.
Real estate professionals and the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce weighed in at Wednesday’s meeting.
“The timing couldn’t be worse,” said Kevin Higgins, senior vice president of Voit Commercial Brokerage and president of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors. “The reality is that owners and tenants are hurting in this town.”
Kip Cooper of the Las Vegas Association of Realtors noted that 8.1 million square feet of commercial space is in danger of going into foreclosure and urged the council not to do anything that would make leasing commercial space in the city harder.
“It’s a tax on investment,” he said.
Jim DiFiore, the city’s business services manager and the one presenting the proposed increase, noted that Clark County has a licensing requirement for commercial lessors on the books that’s more expensive than the one proposed for Las Vegas, and had a list of 119 entities that were paying it, a number that made Higgins scoff.
“They’re not collecting the fee,” he said. “There are thousands of owners and businesses. To bring up 119 is ridiculous.”
Council members said they each had received hundreds of e-mails opposing the measures.
A separate ordinance containing “cost recovery” fee increases was approved. It had several changes, including:
• A charge of $90 if a business doesn’t fix licensing violations by the first reinspection and $120 for subsequent checks until all violations are fixed.
• Upping the fee for applying for a new license or charitable solicitations permit, or changing ownership, corporate officers, business location or name, to $50, a $20 increase.
• Setting an initial fee for a license based on gross sales at $100.
• Licenses more than 30 days delinquent would be deemed expired, not just suspended. Licensees would have to pay a $50 reinstatement fee.
• Applicants for a privileged business license would have to pay a $250 or $500 temporary license fee, depending on the type of business, as well as a $100 processing fee.
• Reducing the real estate developer fee, currently 1 percent of sales, to the rates that other gross sales businesses pay.
Contact reporter Alan Choate at email@example.com or 702-229-6435.