Fee increase report is ‘not a final decision’ says mayor

Fee increase report is ‘not a final decision’ says mayor

Input wanted on Mission business licence fee increases, some of which were more than 1,000% higher

The district and council have been flooded with calls and emails from business owners since a letter was sent out Friday regarding proposed increases to the business licence fees in Mission.

The increases in some cases are more than 1,000 per cent higher than last year.

The letter suggests changing the current yearly charge of $148 to a five-tier system ranging from $250 to $10,000 per year.

A large number of businesses appear to fall into the level-three price range. which is $1,490 per year.

At the highest range – $10,000 per year – are businesses that include casinos, escort services, marijuana shops, methadone clinics, pawn shops, gold traders and cheque cashing centres.

According to the letter, district staff have been reviewing business licence fees and have found that “the current licence fees do not align with the actual service cost to the district.”

Service costs include fire inspections and fire rescue services, RCMP and crime prevention, engineering, bylaw enforcement and more.

The new rates are proposed for implementation in January 2019. An annual increase of 1.5 per cent has also been proposed.

Mayor Randy Hawes addressed the issue at council on Monday, saying the intent was to create discussion to garner comments from the business community.

“It was sent out for input.This is not a final decision … Alarm bells should not be ringing, but they are.”

Hawes said they need to “work on stopping some of the panic that’s out there and some of the anger that’s out there,” in order to get feedback and create a discussion.

“I don’t think we (council) did enough of our own screening prior to this going to the public. And so, if there is alarm out there, I have to apologize. Certainly I should have been more alert. As mayor, I should have been much more alert.”

He stressed that the proposal is not finished and that council will be going over it in detail.

At the original public information meeting regarding the fees, only five members of the public attended.

Hawes suggested a second meeting be held.

“If we hold another one of those information meetings, I think a lot more people will show up.”

He said the whole proposal “requires a great deal more explanation.”

Special meeting:

On Monday, March 26, council is holding a special meeting at 1 p.m. in the training room of Fire Hall #1 (33330 Seventh Ave.) to further debate the issue. No public input will be taken at this meeting, but the public is permitted to attend. Public input will be taken at a further meeting, to be scheduled at a later date.