Camas to require license for businesses

Council votes for $10 annual fee to help city track local sales tax collections

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Camas joined other Clark County cities this week after the Camas City Council unanimously approved a city of Camas business license during its regular meeting Monday.

The new ordinance requires any business with an annual gross income of more than $2,000 to pay $10 annually for a city business license. Nonprofits and businesses earning less than $2,000 a year are exempt from the requirement.

“The original intent was not to make revenue but to see who the businesses are that are doing business within Camas,” said Camas Mayor Shannon Turk Monday.

Businesses are required to pay city-specific and state business license fees and can pay the $10 Camas fee online, when they’re filling out state-required forms.

“They would be using the same system at the same time. It’s very easy,” Camas City Administrator Pete Capell told the city council on April 1 during a council workshop discussion about the proposed business license. “There would be no extra work for business owners.”

Camas’ finance director, Cathy Huber Nickerson, told city councilors the intention of the proposed business license is not to impose another tax on local business owners, but rather to give the city a way to link into a state database and gain information about who is doing business in the city limits — and how to contact the business owners.

“We don’t want to burden our business community,” Huber Nickerson said at an April 1 city council workshop. “This would allow us to get information as to who is legally operating a business within the city and get information on sales taxes.”

At a public hearing held Monday, Camas City Councilman Steve Hogan said the $2,000 annual maximum income proposed for exemption from the requirement seemed too low to him and proposed raising it to perhaps $4,000 per year.

Councilwoman Bonnie Carter agreed.

“I’m thinking that might be the neighborhood kid mowing the lawn or taking care of pets,” Carter said. “I would agree to raising the limit.”

In the end, however, the councilors agreed to exempting businesses that earn less than $2,000 from the new city business license requirement.

The new license won’t cost the city, as there is no charge to the city for using the state system, Huber Nickerson said in April, and the $10 annual fee would come to the city of Camas.

“It’s a win-win for us,” Huber Nickerson said.

The city councilors have tweaked the proposed ordinance language to make the penalty for failing to obtain a Camas business license a civil, instead of criminal, offense — and one that would be punishable by a maximum fine of $500.