It should be easier to open a business in Des Plaines -- so say city officials -- now that the city council has approved updates to business regulations that had been largely untouched since the 1960s.
The changes mean no longer will there be specific licenses required for florists or auctioneers. Gone, too, from city codes are license categories for peddlers and junk dealers.
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City officials have called many of the regulations outdated, obsolete, complex, and at times, contradictory.
The changes to business regulations, approved unanimously Monday by the city council, are part of an effort to build a better business climate in town, officials said.
Mayor Matt Bogusz said since he was elected in April, he's heard from businesses about how long it takes to open up in Des Plaines. So city staff got together to rewrite the part of city code that dealt with business regulations.
"We tore down the barriers that once stood in the way," Bogusz said Tuesday. "We acknowledge there were barriers and we've gotten rid of them."
City officials say it's often been an eight-week process from the time a license application is received by the city to when a license is finally issued.
Now, they're hoping a more streamlined process will take no more than two weeks.
"It's extremely hard to tell a business it's going to take six or eight weeks to get a business license when they're going to open up in a week or two," Vickie Baumann, a senior clerk in the city's community and economic development department, said during a recent city council meeting. "We're trying to get businesses in here and get businesses open as soon as possible."
The new rules reduce the number of license fee types from 40 to 14, and virtually cut in half the number of pages of city code that deal with business regulations from 225 to 113.
The updated regulations also include a new universal registration system for all businesses.
And no matter the type of business, each one will pay its license fee according to a new six-tier schedule based on square footage.
Officials say it reflects the city's actual cost for processing business registrations and conducting code compliance inspections.
Businesses with a floor area of 2,500 square feet or less will pay an annual business registration fee of $55; 5,000 square feet or less will pay $110; 10,000 square feet or less will pay $165; 15,000 square feet or less will pay $280; and more than 15,000 square feet will pay $560.
Officials say most businesses will pay less, and no businesses will pay more, under the new licensing system.
The city estimates the new fee structure could mean some businesses' fees will be cut in half.
As a result, it's expected the city's annual license revenues will decline from approximately $350,000 to $175,000.
The new rules take effect late next week, 10 days after the ordinance's passage.