Horry County Council will soon consider revamping and updating its business license structure, which may include an automatic consumer price index increase every three years.
But not if one councilman has his way.
Wes Covington, deputy county attorney, said Horry County has been under the same rate structure for business licensing fees since 1999.
“The problem, as I understand it, is the treasurer’s office, who administers this ordinance, will have a business come in and they will be dealing with 1999 or 2000 classification schedules,” Covington told the county’s administration committee at a meeting earlier this month.
Covington was referring to business licenses issued to businesses that weren’t licensed at the turn of the century, like vaporized cigarette shops, tattoo parlors and internet cafes.
Horry County uses what is called the Standard Classification Manual System, which classifies businesses in more general terms, and a lot of the newer shops are under a miscellaneous category. The county will eventually consider updating to a system called the North American Industrial Classification System, or NAICS.
An update would also allow the county to address changes made to business types, like firework sales regulation and the outlaw of video poker machines, that have been enacted at the state level since the ordinance’s last major update in 1999.
“We’re dealing with an ordinance that hasn’t exactly kept up with changes to our own code of ordinances,” Covington said. “Let’s update as much as we can while we’re updating.”
Another proposal, which struck a chord with Councilman Harold Worley, is to change the ordinance by including an automatic adjustment to the business license rates every three years to account for changes in the consumer price index.
Worley, a business owner himself, said he will vote against the ordinance if for that only reason.
“The biggest thing in the ordinance is a fee increase,” Worley said. “I’m not going to vote for that. The rest of them can if they want to, but we as a council have to have an opportunity to sit down and debate that issue.”
First, however, it will come back to the administration committee later this fall. It would then go to full council for three readings before it would go into effect.
Projections of how much the proposed new fee structure would bring to the county’s coffers were not available late this week.
Either way, Worley said the automatic adjustment is not justified.
“Not only business owners, but as taxpayers, we’re taxed enough,” Worley said. “I’m not going to vote for just a willy nilly, at that, tax increase. A tax increase that we don’t even need.”