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Business license proposal goes back to commission

Just 15 months after the McDuffie County Commission shot down a proposal to begin requiring business licenses in McDuffie County, commissioners have agreed to reconsider the program.

That comes after the discovery of several businesses operating outside the knowledge of county officials charged with monitoring them. Planning and Zoning Director Fred Guerrant told commissioners the program would help stem that trend.

"There have been another two or three issues that have arisen that could have been caught had we had business licenses," Mr. Guerrant said.

Commissioners will study the Occupation Tax Ordinance in preparation for a vote during the July 18 meeting. Should it pass, all businesses in the unincorporated area of the county will be required to pay a fee - depending on the number of employees - to be allowed to operate the business.

County Manager Don Norton said most counties in Georgia already have such a program in place. He added that there were not many progressive counties that don't have one. Several commissioners originally opposed to the idea have since reconsidered.

"I don't like this either, but everybody I've talked to cannot believe that we don't do this. They think we're going to get burned if we don't," said Commissioner Darrell Wester.

Commissioner Fred Favors, who also voted against the measure, said he didn't want the county to have to enforce professional licenses for the state by creating the program. He added that now he does "see the positives of it."

"I think some folks are realizing they may have missed an opportunity there," Mr. Norton said.

Should the ordinance pass, the Planning and Zoning Department would create a position in late 2006 to administer the program and also handle some code enforcement duties. According to a proposal from Dr. Wester, business owners would be required to receive their licenses by the first quarter of 2007 for the program's first year.

Business licenses are already required in both incorporated areas of McDuffie County.

Web posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006

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