In response to a request for a reduction in the City of Salmon Arm’s 2021 business licence fee due to the effects of COVID-19, city council said that won’t be happening.
Evelyn Johnson with Smooth As Silk Electrolysis Studio wrote to council on Feb. 1, stating she was extremely disappointed to see her bill was for the full $200.
She pointed out that in 2020 the provincial government ordered all personal care businesses closed in March and they were not permitted to open until the end of May. She said insurance companies and professional associations offered rebates or discounts on 2021 rates and asked why this was not offered for business licences.
“I believe this is an example of where you can disburse some of your COVID-19 Relief Funds,” she wrote.
Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond acknowledged Johnson’s concerns, adding that, as a small business owner herself, she knows times are tough.
She explained that the city can’t pick and choose which business licence gets a discount and for what reason because rules are strict regarding assistance to business.
She pointed out the city can, however, ensure that the city’s economic development society is well equipped to deliver a number of services of great value to businesses, everything from a digital recovery program, to workshops on social media and more.
“I feel it’s important to offer confidence, extreme confidence, that there is good value in those business licences including things like fire inspection and business development services,” Wallace Richmond said.
She added that it’s possible, in the long run, with all the services being provided, businesses are getting more for their $200, post-Covid, than they were before.
Coun. Kevin Flynn agreed.
He noted that, unlike a lot of the city’s contracts, fees for service and everything else that has a cost of living increase, he doesn’t think the city has changed its business licence fee in more than 10 years.
He said a business licence fee review is long overdue and suggested Salmon Arm’s fee would likely be low if compared to other communities. He also agreed the city can’t look at every business individually to see how they were impacted by the coronavirus.
“I empathize but I don’t see anything we can do.”