Economic Development Director Phillip Smart wants businesses in Minden to know that they have until March 1st to get their Occupational Licenses without late fees being applied. Local businesses can do so by calling (318) 377-2144 and asking to speak with the Economic Development Department to schedule getting an application in person at City Hall or by downloading it from the City’s website at mindenla.org.
Last year the City of Minden made the decision to start doing it’s occupational licenses in-house through their Economic Development Department as opposed to paying a third party service to handle the process.
“That’s when the Mayor thought that it would be best if he brought this back in house. Of course COVID was coming down, and so he wanted to try to save the city some money. He thought that if he brought this in house, not only would it save money, but it also probably could bring in more money for the City if you had somebody enforce it correctly,” said Smart.
Thus the Economic Development Department was then tasked with finding out who had occupational licenses in the city and who still needed to get them. This was more difficult than initially anticipated, given that the service the City used only gave Smart a list of a little over one-hundred names. Through his own investigations into what businesses would need to attain a license, Smart has found that there are many more businesses in Minden who would need to get a license then what is included on the initial list.
The remaining businesses had to be found by cross referencing the initial list with other lists from utility payments, taxes, reported revenues, receivers of PPP loans, etc, going through name by name, and seeing who was and wasn’t paying for a license. This revealed hundreds more businesses that the third party service let slip through the cracks.
Given that the enforcement of getting occupational licenses in the city had been lacking in recent years, Smart wanted to ensure that the City’s ability to get businesses to apply for licenses had teeth. The late fees applied to businesses is one way to incentivize them to get their license handled. Furthermore, lights and utilities will not be able to be turned on for businesses who have not yet received the license. But for those who need an extra push, there are more severe penalties as well.
After displaying non-compliance in regards to attaining an Occupational License, business owners will be sent a letter, of which an abridged version reads,
“If you’re operating right now without an occupational license it is considered unlawful and your business will be subject to citation. You can be made to pay through either fines or jail time.”
“You must obtain all proper licenses permits within 14 days of this letter. Failure to to do so will result in legal action. Noncompliance can result in imposition, fines, court costs and even shutting down your business. In order to avoid these penalties, it is in your interest to comply by immediately contacting the City and to obtain the appropriate license.”
Smart went on to say, “This will be sent to the business owner, along with a copy of the ordinance stating it will be given to you by either a marshal or a police officer. You have 14 days to do so. If you don’t, then the law enforcement officer will come back to your business and write you a citation and you appear in court.”
“This is after you neglected to respond to our letters. Something that would be sent if we were to see someone conducting business and not paying us any attention, not taking it seriously,” said Smart.
“At that point, we’re going to get serious. So this is where we’ll send an officer over with the citation and with the letter saying that you have fourteen days and if you don’t do something, then you’ll get a citation to appear in court.”
Having local businesses obtain an Occupational License helps the City to ensure that businesses are operating as they should and their place of business is up to code. Owners will have to have their property inspected by the city before being granted their occupational license. Restaurants in particular will have to also present their Food Safety Certification before being given a license as well.
On top of ensuring the safety of businesses in Minden for its Citizens, having to go through the city to get the occupational license means the Economic Development Department can keep better tabs on local businesses, and use that information to make more informed decisions on how it wants to shape the local economy.
To get an application for a businesses’ occupational license, call (318) 377-2144 and ask to speak with the Economic Development Department to schedule to receive an application in person at City Hall, or by downloading the application from the City’s website at mindenla.org.