By Kelci Parks
An agenda item presented at last week’s town board meeting looked at throwing out business licenses in the town of Pahrump, although most would still require a state license.
Pahrump Economic Development Manager Al Balloqui found himself defending his job, speaking on the subject once in a professional capacity and once as a resident. The program currently regulates 2,300 businesses as of this month, according to Balloqui, and it helps pay for more than two staff salaries.
Jim Deunsing of the Pahrump Libertarian Party was set to make a presentation speaking out against the licenses, but before he made his way up front, board member Harley Kulkin made “a motion not to approve the removing of town ordinance number 35 concerning business licenses.”
Board member Vicky Parker said she would like to see the item postponed due to the fact that town staff is currently doing a series of workshops on business licensing that incorporates businesses in the process of revising PTO 35 in regards to business licensing.
“The first meeting was today and nobody there wanted to eliminate business licenses entirely but they definitely had ideas on how they would like the business licensing program structured. And I think we need to go to the rest of the series of workshops before we even discuss this.”
Future workshops are set for June 2, June 7 and June 16. All meetings will take place at the chamber office at noon.
Before Deunsing spoke on the subject, it seemed the board was ready to move forward with a motion, until Chairman Mike Darby intervened.
“Am I to understand that we’re going to make a motion before the presenter has had a chance to even present this? We’re cutting off the presenter before he even has a chance to speak on his item?” asked Darby.
Kulkin apologized and withdrew his motion.
Duensing made his way to the front to speak.
“The Pahrump town ordinance 35 costs the town about $50,000 a year with the numbers we have now. And I don’t know what it provides the businesses. There’s not a business out there that goes to the business license board that gets a service that improves their business. It costs, it hassles, it adds inspections, but it doesn’t make the businesses of Pahrump any better. And so it seems a no-brainer to me, in a time we need money, in a time when money is short, when we’re looking for places to cut, that we cut the things that are losing money,” he said.
Kulkin spoke against doing away with the ordinance, saying that he likes the fact that the business license program shows the town exact numbers of businesses that are coming to and leaving the area. He also made the argument that knowing the kind of businesses that are being operated helps the fire department to extinguish fires quickly and safely.
“Maybe we seem to lose a little money, which that could be rectified because Walmart shouldn’t be paying the same amount of money as I do for a business license. But on the other hand, maybe when the fire gets put out it costs us a lot less money to put out that fire because we knew what kind of business they had. So, sometimes it’s not as simple as what’s right in front of your face, sometimes you have to look a little further,” he said.
Seaton Curran, the town’s attorney, clarified that “the board cannot repeal the ordinance by a simple vote tonight. You can direct staff to begin the process to develop an ordinance to then repeal the ordinance. So there will be some procedures left to take place including publication for the appropriate time period.”
Kulkin again made a motion not to repeal PTO 35. It was seconded by Parker.
“When we talk about the biz license ordinance, and I agree that many of the citizens don’t like everything in the ordinance, but we don’t throw out the baby with the bath water,” agreed board member Dr. Tom Waters. “What we need to do is look at it, we need to fix it, and we can do that. Because we have workshops already scheduled with the businesses, I think we’ll have pretty good input as to what works for the businesses in town.”
Balloqui, the man in charge of running business licensing, took his turn in front of the board, speaking as a member of town staff.
“With the chairman’s permission, I would like to speak very frankly. I am totally and completely amazed. The ignorance astounds me that someone can come before this board with no factual information or evidence to present before this board. Has this individual done any due diligence whatsoever in regard to what the business licensing in this town does? Has he spoke to any of the staff, or collected any factual information on the numbers? There’s been emails flying all around, and they’re all incorrect,” he said.
Balloqui added that starting next month the town plans to coordinate a monthly meeting for businesses.
The motion not to repeal PTO 35 passed 4-1, with Darby being the sole vote against.