Berlin approves business license ordinance

·2 min read

Jun. 23—Beginning next year, businesses that operate in Berlin will be required to obtain a municipal business license, thanks to the town's formal adoption of its first-ever licensing ordinance at its regular council meeting this week.

The Berlin town council approved the 21-page ordinance after weeks of discussion and tweaks to the original draft. The version that passed this week contains no changes from the most recent version of the document, which saw its first reading at the council's regular meeting in May.

The final version of the ordinance establishes an across-the-board fee, currently set by the State of Alabama at $12 per year, for any business that generates receipts within Berlin. Passed at the council's Monday meeting, the ordinance won't take effect until January of next year, with businesses paying their 2023 fees based on the revenues they generated in 2022.

Mayor Patrick Bates said the council focused on adopting a business-friendly licensing ordinance; one that assesses lower fees for most types of business than those assessed by many area towns. "It's fair to say that most of the fees are below the average," Bates said Wednesday. "The vast majority of our rates will be lower than what you'll find in other places, and they're generally below the state maximums."

With a small handful of exceptions, most of the businesses that currently operate in Berlin fall under the broad category designated in the ordinance as "Schedule A," which covers most providers of retail goods and services, as well as most types of manufacturing.

Businesses that fall under the Schedule A category will be assessed an annual licensing fee that collects .0005 of all an entity's gross receipts over the course of a fiscal year. In the case of a Schedule A business that generates $100,000 in annual gross receipts in a given year, for instance, the town would collect $50.

Fees for businesses of other types are assessed according to a sorted schedule extending through the remaining letters of the alphabet, though Berlin doesn't currently host businesses that fall under many of those remaining categories.

Bates said the ordinance comes as a logical and necessary step as the still-young municipality — which first incorporated following a 2018 vote — codifies a standardized set of licensing requirements to cover existing and future businesses.

"This isn't being done for the purposes of revenue; it's being done for the purposes of activating some aspects of state law that we need to have in place as a town," Bates told The Times in May. "In our ordinance, we've consolidated everything down that we could into one single schedule."

Benjamin Bullard can be reached by phone at 256-734-2131 ext. 234.