Berlin Adjusts Business License Ordinance Wording

BERLIN – Businesses that operate in Berlin will soon all be charged business license fees.

On Monday, the Berlin Town Council voted unanimously to update the code to give the town the ability to charge business license fees to all businesses that operate in town, not just those with physical locations in town.

“It now requires those businesses to apply for and get a business license from the Town of Berlin,” said David Gaskill, the town’s attorney.

Earlier this spring, town officials agreed to double the business license fee, which hadn’t been adjusted since it was created more than a decade ago, from $75 to $150. As that change was being made, Councilman Steve Green brought up the issue of a trader’s license, something in place in many other jurisdictions.

“The contractors expect it. I have personally even had a contractor doing work at my house even ask me how much the license would be,” he said at the time. “I think it’s a missed opportunity to help offset some expenses.”

With a trader’s license, businesses operating in town, such as plumbing and HVAC companies, would have to pay a fee to do business in town whether they have a physical location in town or not. Historically, business license fees in Berlin have been charged only to businesses that have physical locations in town. Service companies and contractors, however, typically expect to pay some sort of business license or traders license fee when they do work in a new town. In Ocean City, for example, contractors are charged business license fees based on their number of employees. A contractor with six to 10 employees has to pay a license fee of $233 to work in the resort. In Rehoboth, it’s $310; in Lewes, it’s $360; Milton, $145; and Millville, $10.

As a result of that discussion, in May the council introduced an ordinance to amend the chapter of the town code related to business licenses.

“That amendment is going to change the definition to ‘business or business establishment means any retail, service, rental or professional business entity operating within or providing services within the town, regardless of whether said business or business establishment is physically located within the corporate limits of the town,’” Gaskill said last month.

At a public hearing for the proposed change on Monday, no citizens spoke up regarding the change. While a merchant did express interest earlier in the meeting in a compromise on the business fee, perhaps by making the increase a smaller amount than 100%, officials explained it had already been doubled.

With no further discussion on the proposed code changed, the council voted unanimously to approve the new language.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.