McDuffie County businesses may soon be going through the same motions as those in other counties nearby.
Business licenses are currently required only in the incorporated areas, but the County Commission is considering a plan that would require all businesses outside of Dearing and Thomson to be licensed as well.
Commissioners had considered the program during budget planning sessions in August, but no action was taken. Problems with a party business in the old Helig-Meyers building prompted law enforcement officers to request that the program be reconsidered.
"They were opening those things up and conducting unauthorized business without us even knowing about it," said Planning Board Director Fred Guerrant.
According to Mr. Guerrant, several other factors played into the decision to bring the idea back. For example, some business owners cannot buy wholesale items or participate in shows out of town because they do not have a business license.
Also, surrounding counties require McDuffie business owners to have a license when doing business in their county. Since no license exists in McDuffie, other counties can charge higher prices for out-of-county fees. This has some owners upset that licenses aren't required in McDuffie.
Mr. Guerrant said inspections can't be done on businesses that no one knows exist. The addition of the program would also allow existing and new businesses to be monitored and would give the county an enforcement tool. That's one point Commission Chairman Charlie Newton is weighing while consider the program.
"From what Fred's put together, he's going to show us what the ordinance looks like," Chairman Newton said. "We're going to take a look at that ordinance and decide how much of a hindrance that would be to business, and how much headache that would cause people versus the other side, the public benefit of knowing who's out there."
One problem several commissioners had with the license program is that some small business owners in the county, such as hairdressers, may not be licensed with the state. Implementation of the program would require them to get a state license but would allow time for classes and registration.
Mr. Guerrant is currently formulating a draft of the ordinance that will come before the commission. With the final commission meeting of the year canceled due to schedule overload, Chairman Newton said it was unlikely that the program would start by the new year.
To run the program, the county would have to hire another employee, but projected revenue from license fees would more than offset the cost of a salaried employee.
Once the program is started, all businesses outside of the incorporated areas of the county will have to register at the Planning Office on Railroad Street. The cost of the license, according to Mr. Guerrant, will be according to the business' number of employees.