Okotoks: Substantial increases made to late fees
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013 01:28 pm
The deadline for local businesses to renew their annual license with the Town of Okotoks is looming and anyone who misses it will face a higher penalty this year.
Businesses operating in Okotoks must renew their businesses licenses by Jan. 31. The penalty for paying after the deadline is $30 for home businesses and $50 for all others. Until recently, the penalties ranged from $2 to $10.
“The penalties were not significant enough for people to have incentive to pay on time,” said Shane Olson, Okotoks economic development team leader.
He said delays in getting licenses renewed can impact some of the Town’s economic and tourism initiatives. Business license fees cover the cost of all economic development initiatives, including major events downtown like the annual parade.
“We can’t implement a lot of our projects until we have all the licenses paid,” he said.
All businesses operating in Okotoks must have a business license, regardless of whether they are based out of a storefront location or a home.
License fees will remain the same this year. The fee for a home-based business is $140, and $70 for home businesses in their first year. Fees range from $180 for businesses with up to five employees to $475 for businesses with more than 50 employees. Licenses are also available for shorter periods ranging from as little as one day, to one week or for three or six month periods.
Fees are higher for businesses located outside of Okotoks wanting to work in the community, including contractors and trades people.
License fees brought in $408,000 in revenue in 2012, up from $377,000 in 2011.
Olson said the increase was largely a result of the number of trades people working on projects in town.
“The new emergency services building was under construction, there was a lot of commercial under construction last year and that’s what accounted for the increase,” he said.
Olson said 2012 was a good year with 380 new businesses licenses issued.
There were 1,675 licensed businesses in Okotoks last year, including 630 home based businesses, 492 with locations in town.
The number of businesses grew by 4.3 per cent, even after factoring in businesses that closed over the course of 2012.
“After all the closures and all the openings we still had 4.3 per cent business growth, which is healthy,” said Olson. “It’s in line with population growth.”
He acknowledged almost half a dozen downtown businesses closed or relocated last year. Olson said he expects the spaces will fill over the course of the year. He said April is typically the busiest month of the year for new licenses after winter is over.
As well, of the 52 new businesses that opened in retail, office or business space in town last year, 14 were in the downtown area.
For more information, visit www.okotoksventure.ca. The Town also offers an on-line payment option at www.vth.okotoks.ca. Business owners can pay with a credit card and people will need their invoice number to pay on-line.