HEFLIN — Business owners spoke in generally favorable terms Tuesday night about a proposed amendment to the city’s business license ordinance which would raise the fees for some businesses and lower them for others.
The owners addressed their comments to members of the Heflin City Council during a work session.
If passed the ordinance would also institute fees for residential and nonresidential contractors and subcontractors who do business in Heflin and real estate rentals.
The city had proposed a business license fee increase last year but area merchants were actively displeased by it and the ordinance was rescinded in December.
Terry Hendrix, owner of NAPA Auto Parts Cleburne County Parts, said the new fees will primarily affect business in the middle of the proposed business license fee schedule.
“Mine will go up, but I’m not going to complain about it this year — I mean, I did last year for what y'all were proposing” at that time, Hendrix said.
“I’m not complaining I mean if that’s what it is, I’m happy with that if you don’t come back next year and do it again,” Hendrix said.
Councilman Travis Crowe asked Ricky Cobb, owner of Rick’s Backhoe and Dozer, if he would have to go up on what he charges customers if the ordinance is approved.
“From what I can determine I think it’s fair, I think it’s a lot better than it was last year. I think we could live with that. Anytime things go up we have to go up, somebody’s got to pay the price,” Cobb said.
City Clerk Shane Smith said he projects a overall increase in business license fees to be $25,000 if the council approves the ordinance next month. Smith said that the last time business license fees were addressed was 10 years ago.
Heflin Mayor Rudy Rooks said the business license fees will be based on the businesses gross receipts and be more uniform for all of the city’s businesses.
“It’s more about bringing the business license schedule into a fairer approach than the way it was. Before it just all over the board. You had some folks paying a $65 business license and doing a tremendous amount of business and you had one paying $400-$500 business license and not doing as much business,” Rooks said.
Smith also told the council about the upcoming city budget for fiscal year 2019 and said that the process is still ongoing. He illustrated the differences in the expenses and revenue for 2018 and 2019 by using slides. Smith said the total revenue for the city in 2018 was $3,238,265 and for 2019 the amount is $3,184,234 — down $54,031.
Smith has proposed budget cuts which include no pay raises, cutting appropriations to the chamber of commerce and cutting education training budgets in half.
During the regular meeting the council unanimously approved a contract with Pioneer Broadband Service to handle the city’s internet and phone services.