Buckley adopts state business program

The city of Buckley has elected to discontinue its business license operations in favor of adopting a state program.

The city signed a contract with the Department of Licensing for the organization to take over the city’s business licensing and continue to operate it through the state Master Business Application program. The decision will save Buckley government time and money and add an extra level of convenience for businesses in the city limits, Mayor Pat Johnson said.

“It helps us immensely,” Johnson said. “It’s so rare that a state program will actually save time and money. This was such a deal we had to take them up on it.”

Johnson learned of the program at a meeting of Pierce County mayors in September. Eatonville had recently adopted the program and they listened to a presentation from a DOL representative, she said. The representative visited Buckley City Council in December to explain the program.

The transition to the program did not require a council vote.

The Master Business Application program allows businesses to complete various registration requirements with one form, centralized through DOL. The form allows applicants to file a new business, renew a business, file new employees, file minor working permits and obtain a liquor license, among other things. Everything can be completed online with an applicable credit card for fees, though a few odd businesses such as cigarette wholesalers, private investigators and limousine companies are recommended to send paper copies of the form.

This service will not cut the city out of a say in business regulation, or its share of revenue from fees. DOL will contact the appropriate Buckley officials 90 days before a business license expires to make sure the license holder is meeting city requirements and that the license should be renewed. DOL will take a service fee for credit card processing of applications and then electronically transfer fee revenue to the city’s account.

Cindy Winston, an administrative assistant for the city, said the program would help her with her own job.

“It will save me a bunch of time,” she said. “Every year, most of my time gets used up by printing and mailing licenses, which makes performing my other duties hard because I only work part-time.”

Buckley will gradually phase in the program over the coming year. In March, existing businesses will still be on the in-house system, but new businesses will register through the Master Business Application. By January 2011, all businesses will use the new system.

The convenience of the new system may encourage previously overlooked businesses, such as those operated out of households, to take the final step of obtaining a license, Johnson said.

The president of the Buckley Chamber of Commerce agreed.

“I can’t think of any reason it wouldn’t be beneficial,” President Ron Callis said. “When I get my licenses I fill out one piece of paper. It’s good all around.”

In neighboring Enumclaw, city leaders looked at the state-run alternative and passed.

“We looked at linking to the state, but it just doesn’t work for us now,” City Clerk Marcia Hopkins said. “We’re keeping it in-house.”

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