Northwest NEWS

January 10, 2000

Local News

City may require businesses to register

by Marshall Haley, staff reporter

   WOODINVILLE--The City Council will discuss pros and cons of implementing an ordinance requiring all Woodinville businesses to register with the City, during their meetings of Jan. 10 and Jan. 24. The Woodinville Chamber of Commerce has enthusiastically endorsed the idea, City Finance Director Jim Katica told the Council at their Jan. 3 meeting.

   Registration would be free, unless business owners did not register within a prescribed period or gave incorrect information about their business. A maximum fine of $5,000 for each day a violation occurs could be levied and imprisonment for not more than 12 months, or both, could be imposed. The penalty is designed to inspire compliance.

   Katica said the rapid growth and turnover of Woodinville businesses has outdated many City records. An updated database would tell the City whether or not businesses have properly reported taxes, and would tell emergency services about any potentially dangerous materials stored within businesses, such as flammables. Police would also have business owners' names and contact information.

   Most cities require business licensing, rather than registration, said Katica. A license connotes the right to do business within a jurisdiction, whereas registration would primarily give the City a business directory database. Registration would involve much lower administrative costs and would help the City precisely identify the composition of the Woodinville business population. That would provide decision makers vital information for enhancing development, incorporating land use, and other regulations.

   The City could also alert owners to upcoming events, such as street repairs adjacent to businesses. "We could give them timely notification and consideration of their resources," said Katica.

   Katica said his staff will begin a comprehensive, door-to-door survey of all Woodinville businesses in the spring. The ordinance would allow inspections by any authorized representative of the Finance Director--including the Code Enforcement Officer, fire, and police personnel--"to enforce the provisions of any business registration or regulation ordinance," the ordinance draft reads.

   Registration exemptions include casual or isolated sales, such as garage sales; businesses located outside of Woodinville that only make deliveries within the city; minors who baby-sit, deliver newspapers, mow lawns, wash cars; and most non-profit groups.