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Posts Tagged ‘business license amnesty’

Orange Councilman Jon Dumitru Proposes Business License Amnesty Program

Posted by OC Insider on May 2, 2012

On April 24, Orange Councilman Jon Dumitru proposed a business license amnesty program after being approached by a business that was being sued by the City of Orange.

The strangest thing about this business was that it had never actually opened – it only got the license because it was considering opening a branch in Orange but decided to let its license expire when it did not open the Orange branch.  However, the City of Orange is now threatening to sue the business.  Talk about bureaucratic insanity!

Dumitru proposed an awesome idea: a business license amnesty program.  This would allow businesses that have fallen behind on  license payments but not be forced to go to court.  In other words, if the businesses just pay their back fees, they won’t be pursued by the City.

Councilman Fred Whitaker supported the idea of allowing closed businesses to just let their licenses lapse without having to file any other paperwork.  Whitaker also seemed interested in Dumitru’s business license amnesty program.

Mayor Carolyn Cavecche supported Dumitru’s business license amnesty program.

Kudos to the Dumitru and the Orange Council for trying to ease the burden of government on small businesses during these challenging economic times.  It’s actions like theirs that get government out of the way and help start our economic recovery.

Here’s a transcript of the discussion from the April 24 Orange Council meeting…

Councilman Jon Dumitru: And real quickly, and I know you’ve [Mayor Carolyn Cavecche] been approached and I was approached last night. That’s why this is kind of last moment, but we have a business owner actually from the city of Tustin that approached me. It’s a traffic school, and I guess they at some point in time, were considering opening up a branch office here in the City of Orange.

They had pulled a business license but they had never actually opened, and in the process of the last year, their business license, of course, in Orange they let expire since they no longer operated, or ever operated, and now they’re being threatened with some legal action from the City.

I know we need to kind of get this fast-tracked. Their attorney reached out to me yesterday, Mr. English, about the procedure that has been going on.

But it, really overnight, as I’ve been thinking about this more and more, is we have a number of businesses actually that don’t pull or don’t renew their business licenses and then they start falling further and further behind, and the fees start mounting, and then there’s threats of court action. And I really think, it might behoove the City if we offer sort of a business license amnesty.

You know a number of times during our budgets, budget cycles, have asked to eliminate business license fees, but if we offered amnesty and allow these folks and these businesses to really get kind of government off their back. And the ability to come back and become compliant with what the city requires. It will also get their business licenses up to date and will end, also end, some of the City Attorney work from having to go to court and pursue these small businesses that are struggling these days, but I know – and it’s, I wrote it down, I wrote it down – Times Traffic School, but I think there’s another word to it. And I know, I think they’ve reached out to you [Cavecche], as well.

Mayor Carolyn Cavecche: Actually, I met with one of the City Attorneys on this today…

Dumitru: Oh perfect.

Cavecche: …already, so…

Dumitru: I just thought I’d bring that forward and maybe we can get staff to kind of put together a list or at least a kind of a rough number of how many businesses in our city are non-compliant with the business licenses. And maybe kick around the idea here in the near future of an amnesty program to really allow these businesses to succeed.

Cavecche: Any comments at all? Mr. Whitaker.

Councilman Fred Whitaker: Well, I think there’s kind of two elements. The first would be we need to really look at our code and see if somebody simply doesn’t renew because they’re no longer in business, how do we make sure that we just let that go? I mean somebody should have the freedom to not renew and not have to do anything about that.

And then the second would be, you know: how many folks are actually in business and not compliant and then, you know, just like a code enforcement thing, is there an amnesty program that we can have for those people to help them through and get back to the program? To me, it’s two different things we need to look at.

Cavecche: Any comments? Mr. Bilodeau?

Mayor Pro Tem Denis Bilodeau: Not on this one. Something else.

Cavecche: Okay.  You know, I’m fine with that too. So, Mr. Dumitru, why don’t you sit down and work with Rich Jacobs, our finance director, and kind of get a feel for what we have as far as, or with Mr. [City Manager John] Sibley, and if you’ll take care of that and work with him on that and…

Dumitru: Absolutely…

Cavecche: …kind of get a feel for what we’ve got going on that and then staff can bring that back at a future date, or brief us on it to kind of get a feel for how much is out there as well.

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