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City Council approves new business license
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    With little discussion, the Statesboro City Council approved sweeping changes to the city's occupational tax structure at its meeting Tuesday morning after months of work by a panel assembled by Mayor Bill Hatcher.
    The change to the tax, which is commonly referred to as a business license, is the first in more than a decade and was done in an effort to create a more fair system.
    Under the new system, companies will pay a flat $75 fee plus an additional $20 per full time employee with a maximum of $3,000 annually. The new system will generate an estimated $320,000 in the next fiscal year, which is up from the estimated $177,000 collected this year.
    The change was formulated from a 10-person committee that included five business leaders and five city officials. They would like to review the policy in a year to evaluate it and see if any modifications would need to be made.
    Under the previous system, businesses were organized by type and charged a fee based on what classification they fell under. That system led to some inequities in which some large retail stores were paying the same as smaller businesses.
    Also at Tuesday's meeting, the council once again tabled a vote on furnishings for the new police station after a lengthy and sometimes contentious debate over w
    Both Chief York and Barbara Ratchford, director of interior design for the architects building the facility, recommended going with the bidder who met all the specifications for the project. However, some council members, including Gary Lewis and Tommy Blitch, appeared to want to award the bid to local vendor L.A. Waters who bid products that didn't meet all the specifications but came in approximately $4,000 lower.
    The council tabled the issue at their previous meeting to allow Ratchford and others with the city to further evaluate the items bid by L.A. Waters. Even after a presentation by both Ratchford and York, the council wanted to table the issue again to resolve other issues.
    Other action taken by the council Tuesday included:
    - approving the rezoning of 61.25 acres on Packinghouse Road from R-15 to R-10;
    - approving the rezoning of 21.27 acres on the west side of Veterans Memorial Parkway to commercial retail;
    - authorized the transfer of two lots in the Statesboro Pointe Subdivision to the Statesboro-Bulloch County Land Bank Authority for sale to Habitat for Humanity;
    - authorized the mayor and city clerk to execute an application for up to a $3 million loan from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Agency for instillation of major water and sewer lines as part of the city's capital cost recovery plan;
    - awarded a bid to Savannah Communications in the amount of $249,788.31 for the 911 communications center electronic equipment and furnishings in the new police department.
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