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City reduces business fees

Decision is designed to retain, attract merchants.

January 21, 2010|By Megan O’Neil

La Cañada Flintridge City Council members unanimously approved Tuesday a temporary 50% reduction of four city fees affecting local businesses. The decision, effective for one year beginning Feb. 1, is designed to foster local commerce in a difficult economic climate.

Reductions apply to minor conditional use permits, conditional use permits for projects of less than 5,000 square feet, and fees for design review of signs and buildings.

City staff estimated the fee changes will reduce the city’s general fund by $25,000 to $30,000, but stated that the city is capable of absorbing the reduction in revenue.

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“There was the intent to sort of maximize the positive trade off of helping businesses within the city to thrive and balancing that with the concern over city revenues and any lost services that any such fee reduction might result in,” director of finance Daniel Jordan said.

Staff also analyzed two addition business-related fees and decided not to recommend reductions in those fees, Jordan added.

“We are not recommending a reduction in the business license fee,” Jordan said. “It would be a very small reduction for a lot of different retail businesses which would have a fairly significant impact on city revenue while at the same time doing very little to change the behavior of any potential or existing retailers.”

Councilman Don Voss said he supported leaving the business license fee untouched. He did question, however, how the city would measure the effectiveness of the reduction in fees.

“The purpose of this is to encourage businesses to expand current operations or locate their businesses within the city,” Voss said. “Certainly that makes sense to me. What kind of processes, though, will be use to measure success of this program?”

City manager Mark Alexander said it will be difficult for the city to know exactly what role the reductions will play in helping to retain or attract merchants to La Cañada, but that staff was depending on response from the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce and local businesses.

“I think the single most obvious measure will be the input and feedback from the community itself,” Alexander said.

Mayor Laura Olhasso noted that when she mentioned the reduction of business fees at the annual chamber installation dinner last week she drew applause.

“[Business owners] were really thrilled that we would even entertain this idea I think it will go far,” Olhasso said.

Chamber CEO Pat Anderson said the chamber is looking forward to working in partnership with the city to publicize the newly reduced fees.

“[The reductions are] definitely something the business community has rallied around and I think it shows that what the City Council and city says they will do, they will actually do it,” Anderson said. “Anything we can do to stimulate business, within reason, is something the chamber embraces.”


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