By Sarah de Crescenzo
IRVINE – A proposal by Councilman Jeff Lalloway could end the city’s business license program.
Businesses in Irvine are required to pay an annual $51 fee – $50 goes to the city, $1 to the state.
The program nets the city nearly $1 million, but it costs about $600,000 to implement.
Lalloway called the program inefficient, and burdensome to smaller businesses.
While the fee is small, it presents “one more regulatory hurdle” for businesses to deal with each year, he said.
Beyond putting cash back in residents and business owners’ pockets, Lalloway said eliminating the program would send a business-friendly message to the community.
Supporting Lalloway’s proposal was Councilwoman Christina Shea, who recalled her first vote as a council member in 1993 to turn the city’s tiered license fees into a flat tax.
But Councilwoman Beth Krom vehemently opposed Lalloway’s proposal, saying the information gathered through Irvine’s business license program plays an essential public safety role by tracking information about local businesses that can be used by the city’s Police Department in emergency situations.
No one in the business community is complaining about the nominal fee, Krom said.
She called Lalloway’s interest in eliminating the program “political grandstanding,” and accused county supervisors Michelle Steel and Todd Spitzer and the Irvine Chamber of Commerce of doing the same by sending letters of support.
Mayor Steven Choi said he understood the impetus behind Lalloway’s move, and proposed a compromise: a fee of $41, a cut of about 20 percent to show businesses the city supports them.