Thursday, June 24, 2021

Municipal Association’s Annual Meeting to Tackle Pandemic Recovery

The Annual Meeting of the Municipal Association of SC is returning to an in-person event this year, taking place on Hilton Head Island from July 22 to July 24. Some of the meeting sessions will delve into issues of community development and change as well as business license standardization, and several of the sessions will examine the state's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

American Rescue Plan: ARP From A to Z 
This session will address ways that cities and towns will be able to use the substantial amounts of funding that will be available through the federal $1.9 trillion relief bill. Some guidance has already come from the U.S. Department of the Treasury on how the funding may be used. Because of the legislation’s size and complexity, it is critical for local leaders to familiarize themselves with allowable uses so that their efforts to apply the funds locally will be successful. Clarence Anthony, CEO and executive director of the National League of Cities, will be on hand to discuss the ARP, as well as Erica Wright, one of the Municipal Association of SC’s legislative and public policy advocates. 

Attracting the Remote Workforce Post-Pandemic 
In many places during the pandemic, employees found themselves working remotely — a massive shift that has opened the potential for ongoing remote work. The session “Attracting the Remote Workforce Post-Pandemic” will take a look at how communities can draw in the type of high-earning workers who have the flexibility to work from anywhere. The session will feature Jim Stritzinger, broadband coordinator for the SC Office of Regulatory Staff; as well as Irene Dumas Tyson, a master planner and community designer with the Boudreaux Group; and Jen Bonnett, vice president of innovation and entrepreneurship for the Savannah Economic Development Authority

Broadband is No Longer a Luxury — It’s a Necessity 
Remote work and virtual education in the past year have demonstrated just how critical broadband internet has become to businesses and residents alike. This session will address South Carolina’s plan to expand broadband to underserved areas, and will include the state Broadband Coordinator Jim Strizinger. It will also highlight the City of Newberry’s work to ensure the availability of affordable high-speed internet services, as explained by Newberry Utility Director Tim Baker and Assistant Utility Director David Eldridge. 

More information 
Find more details and full agenda information about the Annual Meeting here. All registrations must be complete by July 12.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Business License Standardization and Third-Party Collection Companies

Act 176, the SC Business License Tax Standardization Act, requires every local government with a business license tax across the state to administer the tax the same way beginning January 1, 2022. Compliance with the new law requires cities and towns to make several adjustments to their existing business license ordinances, schedules and practices.

The law also establishes rules and restrictions for third-party collection companies that identify businesses delinquent in paying their business license taxes and that also assist municipalities in collecting those taxes. Here are some basics of the law’s requirements for third-party collection companies:

Identifying businesses that owe a business license tax 
  • Written contract: Before a third-party company can begin work for a city, the city and the company must have a written contract in place. 
  • Initial contact: The company may search for and identify businesses that are operating without a business license. The company may contact those businesses to notify them that they owe the business license tax, and the company may provide the city’s license application relevant contact information to the businesses. 
  • After initial contact: Businesses may notify either the city or the third-party company in writing that the company may not contact that business again. When this occurs, Act 176 specifies that only the city may contact the business about the unpaid tax — not the third-party company. 
A third-party company may not be paid on a contingency fee or success basis for simply identifying and contacting businesses that owe a business license tax. 

Collection of delinquent business license taxes
The new law allows a third-party company to help a city collect business license taxes under these circumstances: 
  • the city has assessed on the delinquent business the license tax amount that is due, and
  • the business has not appealed the assessment. 
After the city has assessed a business for a delinquent business license tax, third-party companies may be paid by the city based on a percentage of delinquent taxes that they help the city collect. 

More resources 
The Municipal Association’s standardization webpage outlines a seven-step process for standardizing business license practices. Cities and towns can seek information on specific business license standardization questions by contacting their business license standardization liaison at the Association.

The City Quick Connect podcast has episodes that delve into many of the critical issues of business license standardization: