Business license changes coming to Edmonds | City Corner

By Scott Passey | Aug 31, 2018
Scott Passey

You’ve all probably heard of the City Clerk's’ office, but it’s a good bet you may not know what all we do for the City.

Our most obvious function is to serve as the City’s front door. The City Clerk’s Office staff are the folks who greet you when you enter City Hall.

But our duties and functions go far beyond that, encompassing a variety of administrative, legislative and legal functions.

The Clerk’s office authenticates, records and maintains the City’s official legislative acts, ensuring compliance with legal requirements and transparency to the public.

The office responds to public records requests, schedules and coordinates City Council weekly agendas and meeting packets, and prepares City Council meeting minutes.

The office is also responsible for notification of City Council meetings and public hearings, records management, business licensing, parking permits, and other activities.

Essentially, the City Clerk acts as a compliance officer for state and local statutes, including the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) and the Public Records Act (PRA).

One major change coming to the City of Edmonds in 2019 involves general business licensing.

In 2017, the state Legislature passed Engrossed House Bill 2005 (RCW 35.90), which requires all business license cities to administer their local business license through the State’s Business Licensing System (BLS) by 2022, or FileLocal by 2020.

This means that Edmonds must eventually partner with the BLS for business licensing. There are 281 incorporated cities and towns in Washington state, and of those, 230 have business license requirements.

EHB 2005 is intended to simplify the administration of municipal general business licenses and improve the business climate.

In my opinion, this change will streamline the process of local business licensing and establish a uniform, “one-stop” system for application filing. Business owners will no longer have to come to City Hall and fill out paperwork.

Instead, they will be able to apply for their City business license online, using the same website they use for their state master business license.

They will be able to add the Edmonds business license, or other City licenses to their master business license, similar to an endorsement for other State licenses.

Although the state will assume the clerical responsibilities associated with issuing the business license, the City of Edmonds will continue to perform the compliance checks to ensure businesses meet all applicable land use and public safety codes.

Once the compliance check is complete, the City will notify the BLS, which in turn issues the license to the business owner.

The BLS currently has over 70 cities or towns that use their system and is in the process of onboarding 24 additional cities according to the 2018-2019 Local Business Licensing Partnership Plan.

A city or town that imposes a general business license requirement but has not partnered with BLS by January 1, 2018, may continue to issue and renew its general business licenses until it partners with either the BLS or FileLocal, but it must adopt a new model business license ordinance by January 1, 2019 in order to do so.

The City of Edmonds is tentatively scheduled to partner with the BLS in 2019. Therefore, the City will update its business licensing code in the coming months in accordance with the State law.

Finally, let me just say that it’s a sincere pleasure to work for the City of Edmonds. The City is fortunate to have capable staff and elected officials who go the extra mile to make Edmonds a better place to live, work, and play.

I appreciate the opportunity to serve our citizens in the office of City Clerk, and want you to know that I take my job seriously. I am ever-mindful of the code of ethics I have taken, “to strive constantly to improve the administration of the affairs of my office, consistent with applicable laws and through sound management practices to produce continued progress and so fulfill my responsibilities to my community and others” (International Institute of Municipal Clerks Code of Ethics, in part).

Please feel free to contact the City Clerk’s Office if there is anything we can do to assist you.

Scott Passey is Edmonds City Clerk.


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