Council to vote on Hermiston business permits

By on Monday, July 8th, 2024 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

HERMISTON – The Hermiston City Council holds its regular meeting at 7 p.m. today (Monday). One of the items on the agenda is setting fees for business licenses. While the council approved requiring annual business permits at a meeting in January, it did not settle on an amount. Instead, it established the Hermiston Business License Fee Committee to study and provide recommendations. That committee is comprised of city council members, representatives of the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce and local business owners.

Here are the committee’s recommendations to the council:

After several meetings throughout the spring, the committee voted on June 10, 2024, to recommend that the City Council adopt the business license fee schedule as originally proposed. The proposed fee structure is designed to be straightforward and is modeled after the fee system used in Pendleton, Oregon.

Fee Structure and Administration

The proposed business license fee schedule includes the following components:

  • Base Fee: $85
  • Additional Fee per Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) over 5 employees: $15 per FTE
  • Example Calculation: A business with 9 FTEs would pay a base fee of $85, plus $60 for the additional 4 FTEs, totaling $145.

Several key points of interpretation have been established for administering the fee:

  1. Remote Workers: Employees working remotely for a company outside Hermiston, without local business operations, are not considered as ‘doing business’ in Hermiston.
  2. Employee Definition: Includes business owners, with FTE calculated based on total employee hours.
  3. Duration Proration: The fee is annual and not subject to proration for short-term businesses.
  4. Separate Licenses: Required for each separate business entity within a larger organization.
  5. Exemptions: Include individuals under 18, certain beauticians and realtors, garage sales under specific conditions, special events, and non-profit or government entities.

Financial Impact

The City of Hermiston anticipates grossing approximately $100,000 from business license fees in calendar year 2025. This estimate is based on Hermiston’s slightly lower fee schedule compared to Pendleton and accounts for initial adjustments businesses may need to make.

Implementation and Goals

The implementation of the business license fee is planned to take effect on January 1, 2025, with renewals occurring annually. The revenue from this fee is intended to support public safety by funding increased police staffing, aligning with the City Council’s goal to improve traffic safety and community resource allocation.

Alternatives and Recommendation

The staff report detailed various specific topics and questions anticipated to arise regardless of the fee structure. Therefore, it is recommended that the City Council accept the committee’s recommendation and adopt the proposed fee schedule. The Council retains the authority to amend the program as needed following its implementation. The meeting will be held in council chambers of Hermiston City Hall. It will also be streamed live on the city’s YouTube channel.