Stettler town council decided against hiking its business license fees after a debate at the Nov. 15 regular meeting of council.
Councillors read several memos provided by staff that are usually treated as formalities at this time of year: the business license fee, dog/cat registration fee and the business tax bylaw.
The business license fee was the first item discussed and it was presented by Director of Planning and Development Leann Graham and prepared by Roxann Anderson.
“Each year Town of Stettler council sets the business license fees for the upcoming year,” stated the memo, which noted that the Town of Stettler issued 445 commercial business licenses for a potential revenue of $66,750 in 2022 and 46 home occupation licenses for a potential revenue of $6,900.
The memo also noted Stettler issued 62 non-residential business licenses in 2022 for a potential revenue of $21,700.
Anderson compared Stettler’s business license rates with other Alberta communities such as Ponoka, Olds and Camrose which revealed Stettler sits mostly in the middle of the pack.
Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Greg Switenky reminded councillors that revenue from business licenses is traditionally used to support the Stettler Regional Board of Trade (BOT).
The staff memo also noted business license rates, $150 a year for resident and $350 for non-resident, haven’t changed since 2013.
Coun. Gord Lawlor asked if councillors would consider increasing the town’s business license rate by $10 per year.
Coun. Cheryl Barros stated she would prefer to see the rate stay as it is for another year, citing stresses on local business ranging from COVID and very high utility expenses.
Coun. Travis Randell stated that if the BOT needs more revenue the town could ask that organization for advice first.
Coun. Wayne Smith stated that an extra $10 isn’t much but the act of raising fees in a high inflation economy may not give a positive appearance.
Mayor Sean Nolls stated the BOT has revenue streams of its own which it can increase if the organization desires.
Councillors approved leaving Town of Stettler business license at their existing levels for 2023.
Every year the Town of Stettler considers a business tax which is somewhat similar to the business license fee but applies to certain businesses, including professions, which don’t fall under the license umbrella.
In 2022 the Town of Stettler charged $150 a year tax on such businesses, 41 of which were affected which raised $6,150 in revenue.
The staff recommendation was to leave the business tax rate the same in 2023.
Councillors unanimously approved that recommendation.
Staff also presented a report written by Anderson containing information on dog and cat licensing, fees in the Town of Stettler in preparation for councillors setting the 2023 rates.
The report noted in 2022 the town issued 664 tags for altered dogs and 62 tags for unaltered dogs, while in the same period the town issued 272 tags for altered cats and one tag for a lone presumably more satisfied unaltered cat.
It was noted potential revenue from dog and cat tags if left at 2022 rates was estimated to be $26, 550.
The memo noted dog and cat registration fees have not changed since 2014. In her memo Anderson compared Stettler’s rates to five other Alberta communities and found Stettler again falling somewhere in the middle.
Staff recommended fees be left at their 2022 levels and councillors unanimously agreed.
Local Journalism Initiative reporter