Many small businesses in the city have struggled to pay licensing fees due to sagging revenue and various reopening restrictions mandated by the county and state during the pandemic.
As of February 1, the city has received only 60% of late business license payments and 43% of late fire permit fees, according to a city memo.
All businesses in the city are required to carry a business license and pay an annual renewal fee or face a monthly penalty fee. Many businesses are also required to pay annual fire permit fees.
4,323 businesses were billed for business license taxes and related fees that were due on January 1. The average license tax and related fees came to $116.90. 1,030 businesses were penalized for late fire permit fees, at an average amount of $753.10, according to city numbers.
The fee waivers are the latest in a series of actions taken by the city to help small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic. In June, the council approved a $200,000 loan program for city businesses.
Many businesses also applied for the Payment Protection Program, the federal government’s COVID-related loan initiative. Small business owners are anticipating a new round of funding from Congress as part of President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, which could be signed into law as early as next month.
Late fees for both fire permits and business licenses will be waived until May 31.