Madison considers raising occupation tax rate

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By Tia Lynn Ivey

managing editor

A public hearing on raising the occupational tax between 30-40 percent will be held during the Madison Mayor and City Council meeting on Monday, June 13 at 5:30 p.m.

The city has been toying with the idea of raising the occupational tax, the annual cost for business owners to operate within city limits, for the last year, noting the rate has not increase in over 25 years.

Currently, the City of Madison charges a $50 base fee for a business license and then charges an additional $8 fee for each employee up to 10 people and a $4 fee for 11-plus employees.  According to Ashley Hawk, the city currently brings in over $37,000 annually from the occupational tax, but surrounding communities garner more than $70,000 in revenue from the yearly tax.

The council is considering raising the current base fee of $50 to $60.  The employee fees would increase to $12 per employee up to 10 employees, and then up to $8 for every employee after. According to Karen Stapp, the city’s finance officer, and Ashley Hawk, the city’s business specialist, if this model is passed, it will generate an extra $16,000 annually for the city. Stapp and Hawk have been compiling research on neighboring communities’ occupational taxes and fees, as well as various models for the council to consider since last year. Revenues from the Occupational Tax will go towards paying for the city’s new fire truck, which was specifically purchased with downtown businesses in mind because of it’s three-story reaching ladder that could better service commercial business buildings in case of a fire.

“It seemed like a large increase at first,” said City Councilman Rick Blanton, who initially opposed the occupational tax hike, “But when they pointed out the need for the ladder truck and how that will help directly some of the businesses in the city, it makes a lot more sense.”

The public hearing will be held at the city’s new building, located at 160 North Main Street, Suite 400, in Madison on Monday, June 13 at 5:30 p.m.

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