Lower License Fees Proposed

May 16, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — City fees for many business license categories would be lower under a proposed fee structure developed using a new, automated computer model.

Over the past three months, the Michigan Municipal League (MML) conducted an analysis of the city’s business license program on the city’s behalf, the first such study undertaken since 1982.

Heather Van Poucker, manager of the MML’s Consulting Services Division, told city commissioners Tuesday that the automated model captures up-to-date information and assures fees accurately reflect the true cost of license processing.

The model was based on more than 25 staff interviews in 17 departments and centered largely on staff’s own reports of the time involved in processing business licenses.

Van Poucker coupled that with an analysis of “volumes” of historical and statistical data supplied by the city clerk’s department.

She said she blended the two sources to construct an automated, spreadsheet-based software program that divides licensing at each step and breaks it down to the unit cost associated with processing.

“These fees are a very accurate estimation in terms of time, materials, overhead and processing fees,” she explained. “This model gives you the capability to modify your scenarios as reality changes. Whether it’s up or down you can modify it at a click of a button.”

As a result, there are quite a few decreases in proposed fees, she said.

More than half of first issuance fees and the cost of processing them are lower under the new model, and nearly all renewal fee categories have gone down, as well.

“The theme here is down because for the vast majority we really will see a substantial decrease,” Van Poucker said.

A public hearing on the proposed fee schedule is set for 2 p.m., May 20.

The city intends to send invoices to current license holders on June 1 for the license year beginning July 1. 

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