“My privilege license fee has tripled from last year.”
That’s what Debbie Smith, owner and operator of Quarter Lady’s Variety Store told the Evarts City Council on Tuesday night in response to the council’s newly revised Privilege License Ordinance.
“I’m complaining but not complaining — I want to meet you half way on this,” said Smith. “How many of you have been in my store? Last year when Kristi (Lamb) issued my privilege license I was listed as a flea market store. This year when I received my bill it had me listed as a new and used clothing store. It’s not a new and used clothing store. I’m a consignment store. Very little of the stuff I sell is mine — it belongs to the community. I just sell it for them. I get one-fourth and the owner get three-fourths of each item I sell.”
Smith said she classifies her business as a “junk store.” She did say she does have “some clothing” in her store, along with many other odds and ends items.
“My privilege license went from $50 to $150. I understand you all passed an ordinance doing away with the city stickers and I understand that,” said Smith. “I would agree with it if it had just doubled, but mine tripled. I talked to other business owners and theirs didn’t, theirs just went up $25 to $50. Why did mine triple?”
Mayor Eddie Manning said when council members updated the Privilege License Ordinance it had not been updated since 1986. He said this action was not to close or deter business in the city.
“All we were trying to do was update something that needed updated,” said Manning. “By taking out the city stickers for citizens the city lost about $2,000. City privilege license fees are 100 percent deducible on your taxes each year. We knew this and knew this would not hurt our business owners. I want you to know we didn’t personally come out and try to attack our businesses. We tried to update ourselves with other cities in the area — price wise, because businesses here in Evarts are just as important as anywhere else.”
Smith said six years ago she operated a bar in Cumberland and only paid $150. She said it has now been raised to $200.
“I’d not be in here if mine just went up $50, but my fee tripled,” said Smith.
After a lengthy discussion, Manning told Smith each business has to fall under a certain category and some “like” businesses fall under the same category.
“Our job here is to make sure we paint every single person with the same brush in this town,” said Manning. “We have to make sure that if John Smith is selling this product and paying this amount then the next person who sells that also pays the same amount.”
Council asked City Attorney Otis Doan to visit Smith’s place of business within the “next few days” to make an evaluation and bring that evaluation back to them for a decision.
“You need to go ahead and pay the $150, and if the council finds you are entitled to a refund, one will be made back to you,” said Doan.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510, ext.115, firstname.lastname@example.org