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Holmes Beach to hike business fees 5 percent

By Kathy Prucnell, Islander Reporter

The Holmes Beach business tax receipt fee appears to be on its way up in price.

    On first reading July 12, city commissioners approved an ordinance to increase the tax on all businesses, including merchants, financial institutions, professionals, residential rentals, hotels and motels, restaurants and others.

    The measure is expected to pass a second reading in August.

    If it does, the city will increase the fees 5 percent and also increase the administrative fee to process the receipts from $15 to $25.

    The new schedule for the fees ranges from $16.54 to $165.38, with the higher fees for restaurants that seat more than 51 people, and motels with more than seven units.

    Commission Chair David Zaccagnino called the business tax receipts “minimal fees” to keep track of businesses.

    He said most businesses will see a $26.25 tax receipt increase to $27.56 or a $78.75 fee increase to $82.69.

    Florida statutes authorize a maximum 5 percent annual increase. According to Zaccagnino, the city has not increased its fees since 2001.

    For a second consecutive year in 2012, state legislators proposed bills aimed at eliminating local business tax receipts.

    The city commission opposed such a move by resolution in January. The state senate and house bills died in separate committees in March.

    The tax brought about $80,000 to the city in each of the last two fiscal years, and protects citizens from potentially unscrupulous businesses, according to Zaccagnino.

    “The ordinance serves two purposes,” said Mayor Rich Bohnenberger after the meeting. “It serves the purpose of a revenue stream and allows the city to monitor businesses and make sure they’re in the right zoning district.”

    The proposed ordinance also would amend the code to clarify a section on professionals. It requires a fee from all state-licensed professionals, unless he or she is a salaried employee.

    The code provides that the fee is collected from every person who maintains a permanent business location or branch office within the city, manages any business or profession or occupation within the city limits or transacts any business or engages in any occupation or profession when such tax is not prohibited by federal law.

    It was not made clear if the fee applies to people who work from home.

    Commissioners voted 4-0, with Commissioner John Monetti absent, to approve the first reading of the fee ordinance.

    In other matters, commissioners approved the mayor’s recommendations to reappoint Michael Klotz to the code enforcement board until April 2015 and to reappoint Gary Hickerson to the planning commission until July 2015.

    Commissioner Jean Peelen said that while she voted for the reappointments and others in the past, the city should advertise any open committee positions when terms expire.

    The city is “very fortunate” to have people who continue to serve on committees, as well as people on waiting lists, said Zaccagnino.

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