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The original item was published from 10/27/2014 10:33:24 AM to 11/4/2014 12:05:00 AM.

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Butte-Silver Bow

Posted on: October 27, 2014

[ARCHIVED] Business licenses help county track businesses, protect consumers

Dozens of businesses pop up in Butte-Silver Bow each month. Many are small construction or landscaping companies; others are hair salons, tech companies or restaurants.

Business licenses help the county sort through the fray.

“It’s just to classify how many businesses we have,” said Butte-Silver Bow tax clerk Maliena Bumgarner. The county has some of the more diverse license options in the state – more than 40.

The licensing system also helps encourage local businesses – “the taxpayers” – instead of traveling businesses.

“We see a lot of people that are fly-by-nighters,” Bumgarner said. Their fees are proportionally higher than those for permanent local businesses. The county isn’t trying to unfairly target them – traveling businesses simply don’t pay for county services in other local taxes.

Depending on the type of business, fees in the county typically compare well to other metropolitan areas. The most popular business license, a general business license for a company with one or two employees, costs $35.

“It’s always revenue for the county,” Bumgarner said, “(but) we’re not trying to take as much as we can.”

The process can be completed in about 15 minutes if everything goes smoothly. Applicants pick up a form at the treasurer’s office, fill it out, get it signed off in the building and codes office and planning office, then return to the treasurer’s office for final approval.

Other offices get involved to make sure that a company's operations won't clash with surrounding businesses or residences.

Businesses are required to register annually, but the county prefers to work with people to get licensed instead of taking a punitive approach. If people don’t, police can ticket and fine them.

Some businesses also have to put up a bond, a process that helps gives consumers recourse for complaints on bad goods.

“We’ve got to guarantee what they’re giving away,” Bumgarner said.

Read the full story in the Montana Standard
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