Nassau health clubs and pet groomers would pay new licensing fees under County Executive Edward Mangano’s proposed 2017 budget while dry cleaners, locksmiths and home contractors would be charged more to continue operating.
Mangano’s budget, introduced last week, calls for more than two dozen new or increased fees on local businesses to raise nearly $1.7 million in revenue, according to county estimates.
For example, beginning Jan. 1, fitness clubs and pet groomers would need to pay $600 for a county business license while firms offering tax assessment reduction services would pay $1,000 to register with the county. Tattoo and piercing parlors would be charged a $50 licensing fee.
Licenses would need to be renewed every two years and business owners could face a 15-day jail sentence and a $5,000 fine for noncompliance.
County officials argue that licenses are needed to ensure that health clubs don’t swindle customers through contractual agreements and that pet groomers follow appropriate health and safety standards.
“The goal for all these venues is consumer protection to help facilitate good business practice,” said Eric Naughton, Nassau’s deputy county executive for finance.
Evelyn Franklin, manager of the Barrie Inn, a dog-grooming business in Woodmere, said the fee is excessive and unnecessary. “A $600 fee is pretty steep,” Franklin said. “I don’t think there are enough hazards in the industry to warrant this.”
In documents filed with the county legislature, officials contend a license for tax assessment reduction firms is needed to ensure “senior citizens are not victimized by unscrupulous” firms not run by practicing attorneys.
Sean Acosta, president of Property Tax Reduction Consultants in Jericho, agreed with the licensing, contending there are too many companies in Nassau “that are not knowledgeable enough of the business.”
The county also proposes more unusual new fees.
To raise $200,000, the Medical Examiner’s Office would charge an $80 “cremation clearance fee” to the estate of a deceased individual whose body goes unclaimed. The Health Department would charge $25 to funeral homes for confirming a deceased individual did not have a communicable disease.
Other county businesses would see a hike in their biannual licensing fees.
Home improvement contractors, dry cleaners, coin laundries, junk dealers, storage warehouses and electronic and appliance repair businesses would see their registration fee grow from $500 to $600. Those fees first went into effect in 2014.
The registration fee for locksmiths would increase from $400 to $600 while the cost for businesses to host an ATM would increase from $100 to $150, documents show.
Julie Marchesella, president of the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, said the fees are a byproduct of residents not shopping locally. “No one likes to see fees go up but county revenue needs to come from somewhere,” she said.
Nassau would raise an additional $916,000 by hiking more than 80 Parks Department fees, including a round of golf at county courses, renting a cabana at Nickerson Beach and using local ice-skating rinks and swimming pools.
The GOP-controlled legislature will consider the fees in the coming weeks. A spokeswoman for Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) declined to comment, noting that the measures are still under review.
Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said the fees place an unfair burden on small businesses. “The only entity hurt more than taxpayers in this budget are small businesses,” he said.