City of Bothell is considering business-license fee increase | Update

For the last few weeks, Bothell Mayor Mark Lamb, Deputy City Manager Steve Anderson and Greater Bothell Chamber of Commerce officials have been visiting with some of the city’s 2,800 businesses to inform owners that a big change may be in store for them.

For the last few weeks, Bothell Mayor Mark Lamb, Deputy City Manager Steve Anderson and Greater Bothell Chamber of Commerce officials have been visiting with some of the city’s 2,800 businesses to inform owners that a big change may be in store for them.

At its June 19 meeting, the City Council will discuss raising business-license fees to help make up for a loss of $1.5 million annually due to a struggling economy and the Supreme Court eliminating the city’s streetlight and broadband utility service fees over the last few years.

“Council has hundreds of decisions they make every year. With this one, we’re trying to do as much outreach as we can and see the reaction and try to craft a proposal that council could adopt that incorporates the feedback,” Anderson said.

After meeting with a few business owners and chamber officials, Anderson added about their reactions: “They understand what’s going on. It hit them, ‘Oh my gosh.’ They’re worried about the impact on others — because it’s substantial.”

Fee increases could impact Bothell businesses as follows:

 

• Large company

Current — $5,098

Proposed — $7,544

(800 employees, 60,000 square feet of office space, $10 million annual revenue)

 

• Medium retail store

Current — $234

Proposed — $952

(25 employees, 10,000 square feet, $1 million annual revenue)

 

• Small independent business

Current — $39

Proposed — $55

(2 employees, 1,500 square feet, $100,000 annual revenue)

 

Anderson said that Bothell annually lost $750,000 on the broadband tax, about $1.05 million on the $19-per-household streetlight fee and about $450,000 in business activity and development services during the recession.

The city has dipped into its reserves to help cover the shortfall, Anderson said. Bothell started 2009 with $7.3 million in reserve and it entered 2011 with $4.5 million in reserve. In July of 2011, council authorized the staff to use $1.5 million of those $4.5 million reserves to balance that shortfall.

“Bothell’s lean organization and ability to draw on reserves has given the city the ability to weather the difficult economy better than most cities,” city officials said in a newsletter, adding that Bothell would put itself at financial risk if it continues to draw on reserves to make ends meet.

Bothell has also been able to maintain one of the lowest property tax levy rates in the state: among 281 Washington cities, more than 230 cities have higher tax rates than Bothell’s, the city says.

Also, according to Bothell finance studies, even with the proposed fee increases, businesses still pay less license fees in Bothell than they would in neighboring cities.

J.D. Davis of Sundance Energy Services in Bothell, who has met with Anderson to discuss the proposed fee hike, said that no one likes to see that happen, but the city has to make a financial move in order to stay on course.

Money raised from the business-license fees will go into the Bothell general fund to be used for road improvements. Davis is pleased with this part of the plan, especially with the city’s downtown revitalization on the horizon.

“We have 25,000 employees in Bothell, and the businesses attract customers and employees and deliveries, so that has a tremendous impact on our streets, as do residents, people leaving town to go work someplace else,” Anderson said.

Council could make its decision by June 19 or later, Anderson said. The city sends out business-license renewals in June, and owners return them with their fees by July 1. Changes will go into effect with this renewal.

“Once they make the decision, whatever rate it is will go out — we’d understand if they can’t turn it around by July 1,” he said, noting that the city is not yet sure how they’ll deal with those businesses. “If it’s increased, we will have an insert explaining what happened and why.

“I’m sure that out of 2,800 businesses, some are going to be surprised, (and say) ‘What is this?’ and others are going to say it’s the cost of doing business,” he added.

This might be the first time Bothell business-license fees are raised this high, said Anderson, noting that fees are upped by a small percentage annually based on the Consumer Price Index. In 2002, council had staff look at a head tax ($60 per employee with 20,000 city employees at that time), but they didn’t adopt the proposal.

The Greater Bothell Chamber of Commerce’s Business Advocacy Committee will meet and discuss the issue from noon to 1 p.m. June 19 at the Bothell Police Department, 18410 101st Ave. N.E. The City Council meeting begins at 6 p.m. at Bothell Municipal Court, 10116 N.E. 183rd St.

More in News

President’s emergency declaration sparks immediate legal backlash

Attorney General Bob Ferguson said his team will sue the White House if federal funds originally intended for Washington state are interrupted.

Bill targets sexual health curriculum in Washington schools

Senate Bill 5395 is co-sponsored by 17 Democratic representatives and introduced by Sen. Claire Wilson, D-Federal Way.

According to King County’s Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) annual report, Seattle had the highest rate of people using services at 36 percent of the total, followed by 31 percent from South King County, 18 percent from the greater Eastside, and 7 percent from north county including Shoreline.
Study shows King County’s treatment funding is making progress

A document on the county’s .1 percent health sales tax was accepted Wednesday by the county council.

Children’s play area at Seadrunar. Photo by Lauren Davis via Facebook
Seedy side of Seadrunar: Drug rehab center accused of neglect, exploitation

Public records reveal that Seattle facility was accused of neglecting children and clients in its care.

Russell Wilson and Ciara spoke Friday at the Tukwila Library to Foster students and other attendees as their Why Not You Foundation joined forces with the King County Library System and JPMorgan Chase to launch the DREAM BIG: Anything is Possible campaign. Photo by Kayse Angel
Russell Wilson and Ciara launch DREAM BIG campaign

Partnership with King County libraries dovetails with scholarship program for local students.

David Baker. Photo courtesy of city of Kenmore
Kenmore’s Baker continues regional service on board for Sound Cities Association

Baker has served on the Kenmore City Council for 14 years.

Southbound traffic backs up as northbound drivers cruise on with ease on the Highway 99 viaduct on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
WSDOT hopes ‘Viadoom’ habits continue

The department credits commuters with adapting to the closure and mitigating impacts.

Somali community faces SeaTac displacement

Proposed redevelopment threatens the heart of the Somali business community.

Snow delays 228th Avenue construction project in Bothell

Work began on Jan. 31, but construction was delayed due to inclement weather and conditions.

Most Read