State bill could eliminate one tax, potentially add more

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – State Representatives Bill Sandifer from Seneca and Kirkman Finlay from Columbia introduced a bill earlier this month that will keep businesses from having to pay a fee for their business license.

The money collected from business licenses usually goes to a city’s general fund. That money is used for everything from people’s protection to their entertainment.

“In the short term, it sounds great that we would be saving a little bit of money,” said Emily Dallam, the co-owner of the Chocolate Moose Bakery.

Dallam pays the city a fee based on how much money she makes.

“For us, it’s something we’re willing to pay for what we get in return,” Dallam said.

Critics of the bill say the way it’s currently written could have some pretty negative effects on cities.

“The city has to either raise that money elsewhere or cut services,” said Chief Ken Miller of the Greenville Police Department.

Chief Miller says the money from business licenses is about $8 million dollars of Greenville’s general fund. In Spartanburg, it equates to around $3.5 million.

“To take away that revenue from cities seems like we may lose as a result something like the Saturday Markets,” Dallam said.

Miller added, “There is going to be an impact on police and fire and public safety in our community.”

Cities could raise property taxes to make up the difference.

“All of the people who come in and consume the services of a city aren’t people who live in that city, but the burden is then placed on the people who live in that city,” Miller said.

The bill is meant to standardize business licensing which business owners agree needs to be done, especially larger businesses or businesses that may be in more than one city.

“It’s not unreasonable to ask for a more stream line process and easier way to pay for a place that might do business in five or 10 municipalities, and I think that absolutely needs to change,” Dallam said.

Spartanburg City Council addressed the impacts of the bill at their meeting Monday night.

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