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Berlin discussing non-local businesses and rental fees

The Berlin Mayor and Town Council tabled a motion to raise the business license fee to $150 from $75. The fee, which has been in place since 2009, will be looked at further to see if it is feasible to make the fee more expensive or cheaper depending on a business’s location and/or category.

(May 25, 2023) Possible new practices for issuing business licenses in Berlin became a little clearer at Monday’s mayor and Town Council Meeting.

Town attorney Dave Gaskill read over definition changes to the business license ordinances that ultimately will require more businesses to obtain licenses, which were recently doubled in price from $75 to $150.

“Business” or “business establishment” will now include any retail service, rental or professional business entity that operates or provides services within Berlin’s limits, regardless if there is a physical location in Berlin.

In other words, a landscaping company based in Ocean City would need a business license.

The definition of “vendor” is no longer in the ordinance, since “vendor” was open to any business that simply did business in town. Vendors had been exempt from having to get a business license.

“We’re going to require businesses who provide services in town to get business licenses from the town even though they’re not physically located in the town,” Gaskill said “That’s what this ordinance is intended and will do.”

Councilmember Steve Green, piggybacking off the general premise that the town is looking to generate more money to cover costs associated with handing out businesses licenses — the $75 fee was more than a decade old — proposed that rental licenses be raised from $10 to $100.

“That seems really low,” Green said of the current fee. “I just feel that the amount of licenses we have in town, the amount of income potential, it seems like a logical change to me.”

Green pointed out that the rental license fee in Salisbury is $120 and in Ocean City, it’s $116, so a $100 fee would not be outlandish.

“Since fees have to be attributed to direct costs, the costs of managing those licenses have increased,” Mayor Zack Tyndall said. “As (Gaskill) noted over the past 10 years, we haven’t moved on the fee itself. So to bring that in line with some of the costs that we have already, $100 may be reasonable.”