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Commission vote stops business license plans

A second vote on a business license ordinance yielded similar results to the first during the McDuffie County Commission meeting Tuesday night.

During the March 2 meeting, commissioners voted 2-1 with one abstention to deny the ordinance that would have required all businesses in the unincorporated area of the county to register and pay an occupation tax in order to operate.

A review of the laws that govern commission votes indicated that two votes were not enough to kill the proposed ordinance and that the abstention was invalid.

At Tuesday's meeting, Commission Chairman Charlie Newton asked for a role call vote on the issue. This time a 3-1 vote officially shot down the ordinance. Commissioner Sammie Wilson cast the only vote in favor of the business licenses.

The original push for the ordinance came from Planning Board Director Fred Guerrant, but soon thereafter it was followed by a request from Sheriff Logan Marshall who said the program would help deputies keep up with problem-causing businesses.

Commissioner Fred Favors stated that after his recent discussions with Sheriff Marshall, the same effect could be accomplished without implementation of such a program.

"All we would need to do is tweak our current ordinances," Rev. Favors said during the meeting.

Commissioner Darrell Wester said the main need for the ordinance, as he saw it, was to keep and eye on businesses like tattoo parlors and pay-at-the-door parties which he said was currently being accomplished.

"Ordinances are already there to regulate those businesses," he said, referring to alcohol licenses and health inspections.

Dr. Wester also questioned the need for what he said "looks like bigger government." He said the money produced from the program would not justify it.

Mr. Guerrant said a conservative estimate on revenue that the program would produce falls between $42,000 and $45,000 per year. He also said the program would require between $27,000 and $30,000 to operate.

County Manager Don Norton said after the initial push for all business to register, the program would have required only a part-time employee who could also help with much needed code enforcement at the Planning and Zoning office.

According to Mr. Guerrant, this is the fourth time the commission has denied the implementation of an occupation tax in 15 years.



Web posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005











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