Council to consider more business license regulations

City of Ashland staff members are recommending changes that would allow the city to deny a business license to a company that is violating city rules — such as land use laws or requirements that certain businesses pay Ashland's meals tax and hotel tax.

The Ashland City Council will discuss the issue during a study session at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Siskiyou Room of the Community Development Department Building, 51 Winburn Way.

The study session is open to the public, but it is up to council members whether they will allow public input at the meeting. Council members can't make decisions during study sessions, but they can give directions to staff about how to proceed on issues.

"There have been a number of enforcement cases from different departments that have suggested that changes to the business license may be important for the City," staff members wrote in a memo to the City Council. "For example, business licenses are currently issued to applicants even if the business is in violation of the land use code, food and beverage tax, or the transient occupancy tax. Council should discuss whether it wants to license businesses in violation of other city codes."

Staff members said business license fees have not changed since 1991.

To get a license for the first time, a business must pay an application fee of up to $110, which includes the first two employees. There is an additional charge of $5 per employee after that. Each worker is counted as one employee, whether the person is temporary, part-time or full-time. The number of workers is counted when the business starts.

To renew a license, a business must pay $75, which covers the first two employees, plus $10 per additional employee. Workers are counted in July — traditionally one of the busiest months of the year for tourist-related businesses in Ashland.

Over the years, some businesses have fallen behind or not paid the city the 5 percent sales tax they collect from customers who buy prepared food and beverages. Some businesses have also run into trouble over the city's 9 percent transient occupancy sales tax, which covers hotels, motels and inns.

Typically, those businesses are charged fines, although the City Council has been lenient in some cases when business owners have experienced hardships, such as medical problems.

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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