Mercer Island City Hall. File photo.

Mercer Island City Hall. File photo.

City amends code related to business licenses

Licenses now obtained through state online system.

The process of getting a business license on Mercer Island is now a little smoother. The city council at its Oct. 15 regular meeting adopted amendments to chapter five of the city code relating to business licenses.

In 2017, the state passed engrossed house bill 2005, which simplifies the administration of business licenses for municipalities. A requirement is that cities with business licenses must administer business licensing through the Washington State Department of Revenue’s Business License System (BLS) or the state’s FileLocal system.

Assistant to the city manager Ali Spietz, who presented the ordinance, explained that staff, after review, chose BLS because it is a free service while FileLocal is not.

Spietz said the changes have been communicated to each license holder via a mailer and also were noted in the city’s MI Weekly newsletter and on the city website. BLS began administering Mercer Island business licenses on Oct. 10.

Now people apply online and pay the fees, which remain at $30, for business licenses through BLS. People can no longer apply in person at City Hall.

The agenda bill explained that working with BLS also simplifies the process for businesses with multiple locations who need licenses in multiple jurisdictions, as they can now apply online for all of the needed licenses at one time.

The change also removes the city’s late fee but adds a new late renewal penalty through BLS. BLS also establishes license expiration dates on a rolling basis instead of on the city calendar year.

To renew a license, a person must apply and submit all fees due on or before the expiration date. Failing to renew by the license expiration date will result in a late renewal penalty. Failing to renew within 120 days of license expiration will result in license cancellation and the holder must submit a new application for a license to conduct business in the city.

So far there has not been any negative feedback, city clerk Deb Estrada and Spietz reported.

“No complaints on the process,” Spietz said.

Currently, there are about 4,000 business license holders on Mercer Island.

The ordinance passed unanimously.

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