To borrow a line from a popular Adele song, “Rumor Has It”, that the City of Kennesaw no longer has a Business License Clerk. What? That can’t be, you say? Oh yes, that’s the rumor. And because we don’t want to go around spreading rumors, we called city hall last week and sure enough, the friendly lady on the phone told us “no, I am not supposed to tell you this, but she was let go awhile back and we don’t have one anymore”. As simple as that to verify.
Ok, but why does that matter, you may ask? Well, a business license clerk works very closely with the zoning department to ensure that businesses are meeting guidelines set forth in city ordinances when they complete their “application” to operate within the city. To put it simply, the business license clerk is generally someone with a bit of specialized training to understand what a business can and cannot do in the city limits to operate their business. They are usually involved before the business opens but they also collect annual business license fees and gather overall statistics (according to six other localities that do have business license clerks). Here’s a typical scenario:
A business wants to open in the city limits. The owner completes an application with the business office at city hall. If the city has a certified business license clerk, he or she will know what to review and which items can be rejected under the ordinance and by law. There are specific types of business licenses depending on the types of businesses one can open.
The business license clerk can then begin to communicate with the zoning department or administrator to work through any issues. Together, they will be more likely to prevent errors in approval.
Does this mean that the city may have been better served if there was a business license clerk that could have helped the zoning department in the current pawn shop situation? Well, the Mayor stated that the solution to the problem was found in reviewing their “application” that Cruchelow’s completed. See the attached package from the City of Kennesaw:
And see the applicable law from the ordinances for the city: City Pawn Ordinances
So, Watchers, it’s up to us to ask these questions:
- Having no business license clerk, who is reviewing these applications?
- Is this task being placed on other, already overburdened departments?
- Do those other departments have the necessary training?
- With no business license clerk, how many other applications have slipped through “in error”?
- When there is one BIG mistake, requiring legal bills (come on, we know it did!), it costs US all. Wouldn’t it be less costly to hire someone qualified?
Now here are the other questions as it relates to why the position hasn’t been filled. Is it coincidence that the City Manager Steve Kennedy cut the position shortly after padding his own department, adding an Assistant City Manager, Jeff Drobney? Could it be that the costs spent on un-budgeted items such as the Teen Center/Youth Center (we have those records coming up shortly and watchers, you will be amazed) are taking away from the ability to fund essential positions? Or, to be completely fair, is it just that all of these costly mistakes have nothing to do with the leadership but are just bad timing?