Tacoma City Council discusses increasing business license fees for next year

Depending on revenue, licensing fees for businesses may increase by 100% to 900%.

Tacoma, Wash. — The Art of Crunch has been bringing baked goods to Tacoma for the past decade, thanks to the work of its owner, Rhonda Hamlin.

But the past few years have been tough for bakeries.

Hamlin said she lost most of her business due to the coronavirus but was able to persevere and recover. But then she had to deal with rising costs due to inflation.

“A carton of 15 dozen eggs, which was $14.99 a year ago, is now $65,” she said.

Now, Hamlin is gearing up to increase her spending again.

The Tacoma City Council will discuss changes to a proposed ordinance that would significantly increase annual licensing fees for businesses starting next year.

While the original proposal called for increased fees for businesses with gross annual revenue over $12,000 under the tiered system, the changes would expand the system to include all businesses in the city.

Depending on revenue, businesses may see 100% to 900% growth.

At a City Council meeting on the 25th during October, council member Keith Blocker, a lead sponsor of the reforms, said the increased license fees will generate millions of dollars for Tacoma .

“This will provide the necessary funding for the general fund, which has always been limited, and give the city greater flexibility in supporting the needs of businesses and communities, particularly in addressing property crime,” Blocker said.

However, Assemblyman Kathryn Ushka expressed reservations about concerns that could drive innovative entrepreneurs out of Tacoma.

“I’m really worried about those lower levels to make sure we’re not only allowing creative innovation from people who only have ideas, but we’re supporting those people,” she said.

Under the new system, Hamlin said her license fee would increase from $250 to $570.

“We’ve paid a lot for the community in taxes and fees and all the other things,” Hamlin said. “I just don’t think it’s fair to do this increase.”

In this economic climate, every bit of staying open is important, Hamlin said, and her bakery can only tolerate so much.

“I’m a fighter, but I have to tell you, I have to pay the house, you know? It’s kind of hard,” she said.


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