Council votes to cut fees for smallest businesses
Council voted to cut fees for photographers, accountants and other minor home-based business operators Tuesday and launch a review to re-examine what it charges all other businesses.
These small businesses — which have less than one visit a day from a client and no visual impact to the neighbourhood — were being charged the highest startup costs in the region.
“I saw an urgent need to reduce those fees,” said Mayor Don Iveson, who campaigned on reducing or eliminating fees for these small businesses. “We’re charging too much. It’s a barrier for people starting businesses.”
Starting in 2019, city officials will eliminate the $125 development permit requirement, leaving the $235 annual business licence and $53 home-based business fee in place.
They will also consult with business owners to see what incentives they would like to encourage them to register, whether that’s simply reducing the fee or offering more startup support. That work will likely take two years, with changes to the business fee structure coming in 2020.
Edmonton currently makes about $10 million off its business licence fees, several times what it costs to run the program.
When that news about Edmonton’s high home-based business fees broke two weeks ago, many other business owners piped up on social media, frustrated Edmonton charges what it does.
That annual $235 fee in addition to property tax is just irritating, said small business owner Dana DiTomaso, following up on her social media comments with an interview.
“I get taxes. I’m not against paying money, but what am I getting for it?”
Her marketing business with seven employees requires no inspections; it didn’t need a licence when DiTomaso ran a similar business in Hamilton or Toronto.
City officials said they need the licence to ensure people register and they know what types of businesses are operating in the city.
When the owners apply for a licence, it also gives officials an opportunity to review other rules and permits a specific type of business might need.
Requiring a licence also means it can be revoked if a business is operating in a way that causes safety or nuisance issues for the neighbourhood.
That extra fee for home-based businesses is meant to ensure fairness with business owners who choose to open an office or shop outside their home.
Coun. Bev Esslinger said that’s also something Edmonton should review. Home-based businesses have other benefits for the city, including using less resources.
“We have people working at home, not (commuting) on the roads.”
I saw an urgent need to reduce those fees ... We’re charging too much. It’s a barrier for people starting businesses.