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)