Members of the city’s Community Risk Reduction Division say implementation of the city’s business license ordinance begins Monday, Oct. 14, and they want business owners to know how it will work.
The city created the division earlier this year, bundling some jobs done through the Public Works Department with the Fire Department. The division operates under the Fire Department umbrella, and developing the division gave the city bonus points in the recent inspection that saw the ISO rating drop from a 3 to a 2.
The city once had a business license ordinance and contracted with the Harrison Regional Chamber of Commerce to issue licenses, collecting data and fees for the city. But that was found to be contrary to state law and the city was cited in its Legislative Audit. The ordinance establishing the contract was rescinded last year and since then no business licenses have been issued.
The council adopted the replacement ordinance in June. The Fire Department’s training officer, Lt. Jeremy Sansing helped craft it.
Sansing said that one of the requirements of the new ISO rating, which is used in part to set fire insurance premium rates, requires that each business has to be inspected on an annual basis.
“Until this ordinance, we really had no way of knowing what businesses were in town,” Sansing said.
Anyone could simply open shop and the city might not have any idea what they were doing unless it had to be reviewed by the Planning Commission.
The new requirement will help the city keep records of businesses. It will also help with pre-incident planning by locating utility shutoffs and making a preliminary plan for response in case of fire or other emergency at the business.
Sansing explained the fee schedule for business licenses.
For businesses with one to 49 full-time employees, the annual business license fee is $50. From 50-99 full-time employees, the annual fee is $100. The annual fee is $200 for businesses with 100-149 full-time employees; the fee will be $250 annually for businesses with 150 or more full-time employees.
You can visit www.cityofharrison.com to find a link to the license application under the Fire Department section. Once the application is filled out, you can mail it to the Harrison Fire Department, 120 North Spring Street, Harrison, AR 72601 along with a check for the fee.
Owners can also pay by credit card at the time the application is completed (the license is a PDF that can be filled out online and emailed to the department) or at Fire Station No. 1 on North Spring Street next door to City Hall.
The owner can opt to have the business license emailed to them or they can go to the department and pick it up.
You can also go to Fire Station No. 1 next door to City Hall to pick up an application or deliver one. The fee can be paid with a credit card either online or at the station.
Normal business hours at Fire Station No. 1 are 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Once issued, the license must be posted in a conspicuous place inside the business. The permit is good for one year and is valid from Jan. 2 of each year. The license will be valid until Jan. 2, 2021, for anyone who obtains a business between Monday, Oct. 14, of this year and Jan.2, 2020.
Division Chief Clint Nichols said a new business opening must undergo a fire inspection by Nichols or fire inspector Lt. Matt Price. Nichols said that inspection must be complete before the business license procedure begins.
Not all businesses are subject to the fees. For instance the ordinance exempts:
• Churches and non-profit organizations (application still required)
• Hospitals, public schools, or colleges (application still required)
• Residential and commercial landlords
• Farmer Markets, and children based (under 18 years old) activities such as lemon aid stands, etc.
• Home-based type businesses, as well as businesses not having a physical location within the Harrison city limits
• Other non-brick and mortar type businesses that do not fall under the Insurance Services Office requirements as permitted by the fire chief
Lt. Randal Spears is the new building inspector. Construction contractors and builders are asked to fill out the construction permit that is also available online or at Fire Station No. 1. People can also call (870) 741-5535 for the building inspector’s office with questions.
Nichols said the lower ISO rating was a result of the work of all the inspectors and shift firefighters. Inspections are also simply for fire prevention.
October is safety month, so the department is asking everyone, even at their homes, to check smoke detectors and have a good exit plan in case of fire, as well as just checking for potential hazards.
If you can’t afford a smoke detector, the department has free detectors available. Call (870) 741-6384 with any questions.