A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Albany considers a registry of businesses

Written October 12th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

The council listens to Seth Sherry, bottom right, talk about a business registration program Monday.

Unlike many other towns, Albany has never issued business licenses. Now the city council is being asked to create something that may or may not be similar, a program of business “registrations.”

The council talked about this at Monday’s virtual work session with Seth Sherry, the city’s economic development manager. The topic came up at a previous work session, and Sherry was following up.

The idea is that if the city had a list of businesses, it could more easily reach out with helpful  information, such as the availability of aid in the current Covid crisis. The fire department could benefit from a list of businesses and what they do. And the city could better work with companies on regulatory matters such as wastewater treatment.

There is no firm proposal at the moment, though. Sherry said he would work on one “aggressively” because the city might be able to use federal Covid grants to help pay for setting up a registration system.

Councilman Dick Olsen, alone among those who attended, asked what this would cost businesses. The answer was vague, and Sherry said he’d propose a range of fees, perhaps based on the number of employees.

There was talk about what information the city would ask for. Councilman Mike Sykes preferred just name and address and nothing else.

Councilor Bill Coburn did not want this to become the type of license that businesses would be required to have in order to operate.

Councilor Alex Johnson II said a registry available on the city’s website would be helpful to businesses, presumably those that don’t already have their own presence on the web.

I wish the council had asked more questions. Among them: Would registration be required or voluntary? Would information in the registry be public? And what type of businesses would be affected — all types large and small, from one-person tax preparers to manufacturing plants with a big staff?

For these and other details, we’ll have to wait till the council gets a definite plan and either accepts it or not. (hh)


12 responses to “Albany considers a registry of businesses”

  1. Anon says:

    Businesses are already required to register with the Secretary of State. Redundancy or step one in creating a business tax?

  2. Bea says:

    It would be helpful to legitimize small business but is this just another tax, permit or fee being imposed? Define the purpose of the benefit to the public and then JUSTIFY any fees imposed if at all. City should be verifying State licenses when applicable

    • Craig says:

      Spot on, What is the purpose of such a registry? The council failed to answer that basic question. Yet the council was already discussing the questions on the form.

      Only in Government…

  3. Cheryl P says:

    First it was the ‘rain tax’. Then the city wants to add [another] Utility Fee. Now they want to requires business to be licensed with said cost to be based on the number of employees, which depending on how much they charge for each employee, may cause some businesses to not hire or let employees go (bet you didn’t think of that Sherry).

    But why stop there. How about requiring residents to have a City of Albany sticker on their vehicle…it’s a very popular money maker in Illinois since it has to be renewed every year?

    How about plates for bicycles? Not counting adults, there are thousands of little kids who’s pockets you can pick.

    How about a Parking Permit to park your vehicle on the street in front of your home?

    Oh…I know. A residential street light assessment…that’ll help pay the electric bill.

  4. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Coburn is on the right thought path.

    Registering your business name in a particular jurisdiction is not the same as getting a license.

    Licensure is essentially asking local government for permission to conduct business.

    Both will probably be redundant with what the state already requires, charges for, and tracks.

    Don’t be surprised when city government imposes both – a registry and a license requirement. That way the city gets two revenue streams instead of one.

    This is not about the city providing an essential service or a social benefit that does not currently exist.

    It is government theft – taking people’s money without their consent under a threat of force. Pure and simple.

  5. Sean says:

    This is just an attempt to tax businesses for something we are already required to do by the state.

  6. thomas cordier says:

    So the City’s economic Manager’s job is to find new ways to get more money for the City?
    So City Manager hired a FTE, at taxpayer expense, to find new ways to get more fees?
    This is an example of self sustainability for local gov’t
    Fire the City Manager and the FTE. Come on Council–protect the taxpayer.

  7. H. R. Richner says:

    Note the federal Covid grants, they are doing their inevitable job of destroying what’s left of our union of sovereign states. Federal funds are the poison that kills our freedom.

  8. Mac says:

    Can they not get that info from the state without a fake tax?

  9. Mike quinn says:

    Seth sherry has all the answers , why isn’t he the city manager or is he doing the city managers job. Seeking out new taxes. Everyone has to get reall we need a major shift in our political stage in albany or this show continues unedited. 24 years for a mayor that can’t get the job done right for prosperity in our city. But back to our economist mr sherry. What are his qualifications for this job. Revenue through fines and fees are literally the wrong way to run albany. VOTE

  10. Rick says:

    The state would not have a list of businesses that operate under their individual name. (Many sole proprietorships) The Tax department might be able to provide a list of people filing business returns with Albany addresses. (But I’m not sure if that would be legal)!

    The city better find a way to show value to businesses before adopting a business registry fee.

    As for not hiring additional employees because of a “per employee” fee, this would not be an issue. Businesses that need employees are not going be concerned about the difference in the fee. If a fee existed.

  11. John Robinson says:

    Obviously Mr. Sherry never owned a business. If he did he would know first hand how expensive and ridiculous government regulations, fees, permits, taxes and other assorted extortion are on small businesses. Imagine a simple $50 annual fee and call it registration or a city business license. Then imagine you are a Contractor doing work in several county’s and many cities. And each of these city’s and counties have a similar fee. Now you have $500 or more in fees just to do business- and every year they want more money. Last time I worked in Lincoln City they had and required a business license to work there. So don’t think this can’t happen. I thought my various licenses with the State of Oregon allowed me to work anywhere in the state. I cannot believe that during a once in a lifetime pandemic and economic slowdown this idea is even being discussed. Shame on you.


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