Tuolumne County Moving Forward With $32 Business License Fee
Sonora, CA — After hearing concerns from some members of the business community, notably in agriculture, the Tuolumne County Supervisors approved the first reading of an ordinance to create a new business license program.
The vote was 4-1 with Supervisor Anaiah Kirk in opposition. A required second vote will occur at the next board meeting ahead of its implementation. The $32 annual fee will be required for all businesses within the unincorporated areas of the county. The City of Sonora already has a business license program for its jurisdiction.
It was noted that the fee will only be used to cover the costs of running the program and will not go to other purposes.
County staff noted that the idea initially gained steam when the County’s Director of Innovation and Business Assistance, Cole Przybyla, faced challenges in compiling a list of businesses that could be eligible for relief funding during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, it was noted that some businesses have reached out to the county desiring a license when applying for things like bank loans or insurance. It will also help county fire officials know which businesses are operating locally so that they can help ensure everything is in compliance.
Supervisor Kirk expressed support for the overall concept of a business license program, but only if it would be optional and not mandatory. The program will be required for all businesses, with some minor exceptions.
Several members of the Tuolumne County Farm Bureau spoke in opposition to the program, and noted that their organization is strongly opposed to it. They argued that it creates new levels of bureaucracy and paperwork and goes beyond state rules and regulations already in place. They also cited the tight labor market and the strains placed on business owners. Filling out the additional paperwork will take them away from the work at hand.
Once fully approved, the fee will be required by January 1st of each year.