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Hartselle may require apartment owners to buy business licenses

By Deangelo McDaniel 340-2469

HARTSELLE — If you rent out apartments, commercial property or more than two homes, you may have to purchase a business license in Hartselle.

As part of the state requirement to comply with the Business License Reform Act of 2006, a unanimous City Council introduced amendments to the city's almost 40-year-old ordinance Tuesday night.

"The bottom line is that people deriving income from rental property should be required to purchase a business license," Council President Kenny Thompson said.

The ordinance exempts homeowners who rent out just one home, Thompson said.

The act, which is designed to standardize business license codes throughout the state, has to be followed beginning Jan. 1.

With few exceptions, the legislation does not mandate how much or what municipal governments should charge for a business license.

The council expects to adopt the ordinance at its next meeting on Nov. 27.

Unlike municipalities like Decatur, Athens and Moulton, Hartselle has never required apartment complex owners or commercial property renters to purchase a business license.

The new ordinance will affect Mayor Dwight Tankersley, who rents out a building to O'Reilly Auto Parts, and Councilman Samie Wiley, who rents out multiple homes in Hartselle.

Wiley was not at Tuesday's meeting. Tankersley said he is not opposed to purchasing a business license.

"I had not thought about this until somebody brought it to my attention, and yes, this is a business," Tankersley said.

Councilman Mark Mizell questioned how Hartselle will enforce the ordinance on people who rent out homes.

If someone rented out two homes, for example, he wanted to know how the city would know.

One possibility discussed was working out a deal with Hartselle Utilities to require people who rent to give their landlords' names.

As for commercial property, it was suggested that businesses be required to list their landlords on their business applications.

City Attorney Larry Madison said it's a criminal offense to falsify information on a business application.

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