Las Vegas Sun
Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011 | 2 a.m.
Business licensing is still a problem in Clark County. More precisely, many people who set up shop do not pay for a required business license, costing the county millions of dollars.
That point was made once again during the County Commission meeting last week, supported by some surprising dollar figures.
What prompted the discussion this time?
The vending machines at the airport. One vending operator, NCV Southwest Inc., is selling its assets to First Class Vending Inc.
The sale was such a routine matter that it was part of the commission’s consent agenda, which is generally a place for multiple items that are approved in one motion without debate or discussion.
But a sentence at the end of a summary caught the eye of Commissioner Steve Sisolak.
What did it say?
“First Class Vending Inc. will obtain a Clark County business license prior to the start of operations …” Sisolak noted that means the business currently has no business license.
It’s an issue that comes up at almost every commission meeting. In most cases, businesses have no idea they need a county license because they have already paid for one with the cities of Las Vegas or Henderson or North Las Vegas.
It never used to be a big deal because no one asked about it. This commission, however, asks because money isn’t pouring into county coffers the way it did during the boom. This commission counts every penny.
Is a license expensive?
They range from $100 to $1,000 a year. The type of business determines the fee. For example, pawnshops pay $550, tattoo parlors pay $150, advertisers pay $300 and vending machine operators pay an amount based on gross revenues.
Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Commission is working on a unified business license. Business owners would file one form and pay one fee for a license that would be valid in all jurisdictions in Clark County.
The fee amounts seem small. Are they?
Individually, sure. But for the county they add up. In fiscal year 2011, Clark County collected $27.3 million in business license fees.
What’s being done to collect this revenue?
As a matter of fact because of repeated complaints by commissioners, the county is cracking down on businesses that don’t pay these fees, said Sisolak. In fiscal year 2011, Business Licensing investigated 1,027 businesses, collecting fees from 721 for a total of $1.3 million.
“They’re listening to us,” Sisolak said of county staff.
County Quote of the Week
“Do you want the whole thing read? It’s graphic.”
Exchange Wednesday between Sisolak and county staff, when the commissioner asked for a definition of “adult use” before approving a pool/cabana/hot tub area next to Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club. (To judge whether it’s graphic, read it for yourself in Chapter 30.08-6 of the county’s zoning rules.)