At the December 11 2017 Regular Council meeting in Sooke, Councillor Bev Berger put forward a motion that Sooke develop a business licensing fee program where a one-time in-perpetuity fee option could be implemented.
Elected officials have been toying with the structure of the local business license for some time now. At one point, they discussed eliminating it all together. After a local business owner came forward with a request for a business licence for insurance purposes, it became clear to the Councillors (most of whom—possibly none—are full time business owners) that licences were a legitimate requirement.
In introducing her motion, Councillor Berger noted that both Colwood and Langford both have perpetual business licenses where only there is only a one-time fee on business start-up, at the time of District approval. She sought a Sooke-centric similar option.
Councillor Rick Kasper was strongly opposed to this, and passionately presented his case. A consequence of eliminating this fee would mean that the rest of the taxpayers have to pick it up those lost funds. Sooke does not have the luxury of a huge commercial tax base that both Langford and Colwood have. The bulk of Sooke’s tax revenue come from property owners. In a way, Kasper argued, this would be residential taxpayers in Sooke subsidizing local businesses.
Previously, funds collected annually from business licensing went to the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce. In August, 2016 the Sooke Chamber discontinued their fee-for-service agreement from the District, saying the Chamber could not be the primary driver of economic development in Sooke, a service for which they received $28,150.
In our research, we have found the average salary of an Economic Development Officer (EDO) to range from $65,000 to $100,000 per year for areas similar in size, economic maturity, and scope of need. They then can have budgets ranging from $50,000 upwards of $250,000 per year to execute an economic development plan. See Chamber of Commerce breaks from the District of Sooke for more details.
While the original intent behind collecting business licencing fees was to provide value to local businesses, the funds collected from business licenses have since gone into Sooke’s general revenue.
Kasper’s passionate argument against the perpetual business licence had impact. When the motion was put to a vote, only Councillor Bev Berger voted in its favour. Councillors Parkinson, Logins, Kasper, and Pearson, and Mayor Tait were opposed.
The motion failed.
The December 11 2017 meeting
All elected officials were present: Mayor Maja Tait, Councillors Brenda Parkinson, Berger, Ebony Logins, Kerrie Reay (left early due to illness), Rick Kasper, Kevin Pearson
December 11, 2017 Full Agenda
- Council to consider bylaw amendment in January, allowing mobile homes on residential lots
- Condos coming to Maple Avenue South
- Sewer continues to plague Sooke Council
- Public Hearing: Sooke narrowly approves another higher density rezoning application
- The notion of a perpetual business licence nixed for Sooke
- Want to do business with the District? Then a business licence from the District will be required
- Proposed Murray Rd staircase to Boardwalk replacement may cost taxpayers $75,000
- Sooke Council will issue apology letters, revisit Memorial Dedication policy early in 2018