UPDATE: The City Council had a tie on the business fee ordinance — 4 to 4 with Pelletier not voting. Here is a link to the article in the Projo.
Geoff Schoos has done us the favor of providing a well-formed opinion on the proposed regulation of all businesses in Cranston being considered by our City Council:
Cranston City Council Alert
Maybe you saw this in Wednesday’s paper, maybe you didn’t. But on Monday, the Cranston City Council will vote on a resolution to request that the General Assembly grant permission for the city to impose a new “regulation” on all local businesses.
You can read the projo article here: link to Projo article.
Or the Cranston Herald article here: Link to Herald article.
Associated with this regulatory scheme is a “Fee” of an undetermined amount. We’re assured that it will be “modest” but modest is in the eye of the beholder. If you’re a small business struggling to keep the doors open, the last thing you need is a “modest” fee associated with a “regulation.”
In the interests of full disclosure, I no longer operate a Cranston-based business. Last month, I relocated to the “dark side”. That’s right, I’ve moved my agency to Warwick. As a result, I have no “skin” in the fate of this resolution one way or the other.
Currently, this regulation/fee will affect all businesses. So, if you run a non-profit agency, you might be lumped in with the for-profit businesses. Mom & Pop stores, auto mechanics, doctors, lawyers, fledgling counseling businesses all could be brought under the regulation.
While I think I understand the motives of the proponents of this regulation, I assert that this is the wrong move at the wrong time. When small businesses are looking for help just to stay open, this amounts to a kick in the slats. Maybe some time when things are better, for a purpose more clearly defined, such a proposal could have some merit. But not now.
If you are a small business owner, you should go to Monday’s council meeting and tell them what you think. This is your opportunity to make yourself heard before the enactment of a new ordinance/regulation instead of complaining about it after it is implemented.
My own personal opinion, and yes I do have a dog in the fight as a fledgling business owner in Cranston, is: please, no new forms to fill out and things to file and charges to pay! As a health professional and a school certified social worker, small businesses like mine are already heavily regulated — to the tune of about $800 a year in associated licensing, malpractice, and organizational fees. There is no reason for paying another fee to Cranston.
If the Cranston City Council wants to help business development by setting up a free online registration for Cranston businesses, that might be a relatively easy and inexpensive way to keep track of things and possibly help promote the wide variety of services available in the city. Beyond that, I think our local government should let us churn our little wheels of employment without added fees.