A new mandatory fee — not called a tax — will be applied to many Orinda businesses in early 2018.
The fee will be set by the Orinda City Council. The council authorized the fee at a meeting on Nov. 21, 2017. Voting for the fee were council members Amy Worth, Darlene Gee, and Dean Orr. Voting against the fee was council member — and mayor at the time — Eve Phillips. Inga Miller, another council member recused herself from the vote and left the meeting room.
Asked what the benefits of the fee are, Orinda Planning Director Drummond Buckley said, in an e-mail to The Icon, “There is no benefit to the fee other than covering the cost of administering a business registration program.”
James Shafer of Orinda sharply attacked the fee. The fee, Shafter said in a Nov. 20, 2017, letter to the city council, “. . . is an unwarranted burden imposed on small business in Orinda . . .” Shafer added: “The fees and administrative hassle will only grow over time despite the lack of any true benefit and will probably turn into a full blown business tax in due course.”
Kathleen Schwallie of Blue Egg Farm in Orinda supported the fee. In a Nov. 21, 2017, letter to Buckley, Schwallie said, “. . . I have been asked for our business license on several occasions and have had to explain that we do not have one . . .”
The fee is expected to be about $50 a year and will probably be imposed before Mar. 31, 2018.
Asked how long the fee, once imposed, might stay the same, Buckley said, “It is possible that the business registration fee could go up or down . . .”