FLOWERY BRANCH - Flowery Branch City Council Thursday night voted to go easy on small businesses by not increasing the business license fee or Occupational Tax and by matching Hall County's tax for larger businesses.
The vote was unanimous after hearing three options from Finance Director Jeremy Perry, who said 'Option A' keeps the one employee rate at $60.
"That's versus what Hall County's is at $116 and businesses with two employees will remain the same at $120; that's pretty much the same on up until 10 employees and after that it's a mirror to what Hall County has," Perry said.
Both Perry and City Manager Bill Andrew said that will be friendly to businesses outside the city considering annexation.
"The goal was to work with larger businesses on the outside of the city to see about them annexing into the city and not having to do so with a larger occupation tax," Andrew said.
Council's choice to not increase the tax is going to cost the city about $16,000 but Andrew expects that will be made up with growth.
"I think the main concern with that was 44 percent of our business licenses in the city are people with one employee in their business, so they wanted to take care not to raise that rate and try to be friendly to the smaller business community."
Andrew, however, told Council members that the city's occupational tax or business license had remained the same for nine years.
Councilman Joe Anglin said he had a 'real issue' with raising the business license and was opposed, while Damon Gibbs, who eventually made the motion to approve Option 'A', said he saw nothing wrong with any of Perry's options, one of which would have raised the tax on one person businesses while charging bigger employers less.
Mayor Mike Miller said that option sent the wrong message.
"We're lessening the burden on big business and increasing the burden on small business," Miller said.
Council member Mary Jones, with one employee, did not think it would hurt to raise the tax $10 or $20. Councilman Fred Richards, concerned about the city losing revenue, said business owners should be able to stand a slight increase.