City council updates business license regulations

Sam Galski, Standard-Speaker, Hazleton, Pa.
·2 min read

May 5—Beginning next year, businesses and most rental property owners in Hazleton will be required to get a business license under new licensing regulations that were adopted by city council.

Council voted 3-2 recently to approve final reading of revised business licensing regulations that keep the licensing fee at $100 but would require owners of rental properties that are not owner-occupied to get a business license.

The revised ordinance has been in development for more than a year and was presented as the administration consolidates existing codes that pertain to restaurants, manufacturing, food trucks and other regulations into one ordinance, Mayor Jeff Cusat said.

Rental property registration and inspection regulations will remain in place. The business license ordinance differs from those regulations because it recognizes most rental properties as businesses, he said.

"This business license ordinance is (required) to have that rental business," Cusat said. "We want to classify a business as a business."

Administrators will likely revisit rental registration and inspection regulations as they continue updating city code, Cusat said.

Council narrowly approved the updated business license regulations on final reading last week, with President Jim Perry and council members Tony Colombo and Lauren Sacco voting "yes." Council members Allison Barletta and Jack Mundie voted "no."

Cusat said that under the revised ordinance, LLCs or other entities that own rental properties are not classified as owner-occupied. Each of those entities must secure a business license. However, a single LLC that owns multiple rental properties would need just one business license.

A restaurant owner who has more than one location in the city must get a business license for each location, he said.

A property owner who rents to a business would need a business license to rent the property and the business would need a license to operate in the building, according to the mayor.

At council's request, the administration added an exemption for "legacy leases," or scenarios where a property has been transferred from one family member to another and allows the original owner to occupy the property without financial consideration.

Charitable organizations are exempt from the licensing fee but would have to file forms with the city. Exemptions would also apply to a person who rents part of a duplex or has another structure on the same deed as their primary residence, Cusat said in April.

The updated ordinance is effective this year but will not be implemented until Jan. 1.

Council approved the ordinance last week after hearing concerns from business owners and landlords at a work session.

The business license ordinance passed as administrators are looking at ways to eliminate the mercantile tax. Council has been reviewing the ordinance since at least February.

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