The city began with a sample of its more than 6,000 business license holders whose agreements had expired and initially recovered $65,000 from more than 600 businesses, according to City of Sparks Community Relations Manager Adam Mayberry. He said there are a couple reasons for people not paying their renewal license fees on time.
“Often times these folks don’t pay on time because they are too busy, they discard their renewal fee or they don’t want to comply,” Mayberry said. “What we are trying to do is remind them and let them know those fees must be paid.”
Mayberry said proper inspections and state requirements are all incorporated into a business license with the city and keeping a current license saves potential problems, such as city and state fees being assessed. He also said that the issue of cracking down on delinquent licenses is a matter of fairness to those who pay their fees.
Stephen Driscoll, assistant city manager for the City of Sparks, said the enforcement of delinquent fees is being head up by City Attorney Chet Adams. Driscoll said a list of businesses no longer in compliance is being followed closely to uncover whether business is still being conducted.
“We need to have the most accurate, current information on what businesses are doing in Sparks,” Driscoll said. “We want to have all the zoning codes and business practices showing good standing.”
The City of Sparks has released their fully operational program designed to increase public awareness and track the standing of each business license held by the city. Currently, the city shows 6,043 licenses, 155 licenses in the grace period (one month late on payment) and 463 delinquent licenses. Driscoll said the efforts of the city in providing statistics of active and delinquent business licenses was directed by the city council.
“The City Council made it very clear that they want to make it easy for people to do business in Sparks,” he said. “We need to help people do things quickly and as pleasantly and positively as possible. They also made it clear they want it to be a level playing field, meaning everyone follows the rules and pays their fees.”
Driscoll said the city has been working on a regional software system in collaboration with Washoe County and the City of Reno. If adopted, the new system would streamline communication and information processing to business license holders in Sparks.
“We need to be online,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is push information to the customer. Rather than have to print, fold and mail, we would like to be electronic and let businesses know they need to renew right away.”
Driscoll said the collaborated software request will go out to companies within a month and, if there is an affordable software for their specifications, it will be implemented within the next year. If the software cannot handle their requests or is too expensive, the current city online module will be updated to handle the needs of the city.
“When we began looking into the online process we found that the Reno and Washoe County were doing the same thing,” Driscoll said. “We are trying to standardize that process and use a centralized system, which will use a permission-based online form that will need to be filled out by our customers. We will try the regional approach first, and if we need to we will do it as an individual entity.”