Friday, October 21 , 2016, 4:14 pm | Fair 80º

  • Follow Noozhawk on LinkedIn
  • Follow Noozhawk on Pinterest
  • Follow Noozhawk on YouTube

Local News

Santa Maria to Raise Long-Dormant Business License Taxes

The tax to obtain a business license in Santa Maria will increase this summer for the first time since 1984.

The Santa Maria City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to incrementally raise the business license tax to flat-rate levels established before 1984 — when a resolution reduced the taxes by 50 percent — to help supplement the city’s general fund.

According to City Manager Rick Haydon, the modification is long overdue and is expected to generate an additional $150,000 each year over the next two years.

All this while keeping rates well below other Central Coast cities, most of which tax based on gross sales in addition to a flat rate, Haydon said.

Businesses can take whatever they’re paying in license fees now, multiply that by 50 percent, and tack that onto renewal payments beginning July 1.

Another 50 percent would be added come July 1, 2015, returning rates to pre-1984 levels.

“We pale in comparison to what other jurisdictions charge because we have a flat rate,” Haydon told Noozhawk. “For the last 20 years, businesses in town only had to pay 50 percent of the business license tax rate.

“I don’t think it was on anyone’s radar. This is just correcting, I think, an oversight the city has not taken a look at in a number of years.”

Santa Maria currently takes in about $300,000 annually in business license taxes, falling far short of revenue collected by surrounding cities — $2.3 million in Santa Barbara, $2 million in San Luis Obispo and $320,000 in Lompoc, a city half its size, Haydon said.

An accounting firm or attorney’s office, for example, pays just $40 annually to operate in Santa Maria. That will increase to $60 in July and again to $80 in 2015.

In February, the City Council directed staff to find alternative revenue sources after discussing the general fund’s dependency on one-time revenue.

Staff proposed increasing business license taxes, and saw no resistance from the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce or the City Attorney’s Office.

In its seventh year of structural budget deficits, Haydon said the city must explore all avenues to put forth a balanced budget.

“We still stand by our commitment to be not only business but development friendly,” he said.

Santa Maria will continue charging a flat rate at least through 2015, instead of asking for additional fees based on gross sales.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >