MINDEN - Carson Valley businesses, both large and small, oppose a proposed business license tax to be reviewed by county commissioners early next year.
"Business is down in almost every sector," said Bill Henderson, director of sales and marketing for Carson Valley Inn. "With less revenue, we have to control our expenses, and we expect the county to do the same thing. Now is not the time to ask for this."
At a meeting on Nov. 13, Douglas County Assistant Manager Michael Brown said the county was struggling financially and needed to generate more money for its general fund.
Brown is one of 11 members of an exploratory work group developing the proposal. Other members include county officials like Clerk-Treasurer Barbara Griffin, and representatives of the business community like executive director of Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce Jenney Sartin.
Thus far, the group has proposed an annual basic fee of $100, plus additional fees dependent on the number of employees a business has, ranging from $15 for one to three employees to $1,500 for 1,000 or more employees.
Henderson said Carson Valley Inn currently has 530 full and part-time employees, but he doesn't know how many of those would be subject to the new tax.
"The more employees you have, the more expenses you have," said Henderson. "If we have to find a way to spend less, the county needs to find a way to spend less."
Small businesses in Carson Valley seem to agree with Henderson.
"I don't really like it," said Cody McNeely, who's been doing mason work in Carson Valley for 30 years and owns the small, five-employee company McNeely Masonry.
McNeely compared the proposed county business license tax to the current state business license tax.
"It starts out easy, but it increases over time," he said. "When they tax people, they lose a lot of votes. When they tax small businesses, they lose only one or two votes."
Debbie Roberts, owner of Lasting Impressions beauty salon, said she didn't want another tax.
"I'm taxed enough. If I buy something new for the business, it gets taxed," she said. "Small businesses don't have the extra money."
Roberts also said she didn't know how additional fees based on employee numbers would affect her business since four stylists work under the umbrella of her company but are essentially self-employed, earning wages directly from clients and paying Roberts only a certain amount of rent each month to work in the facility.
Young businessman Scott Hyde, who owns two small merchant service companies in Gardnerville, J&S Merchant Solutions and Access Fleet, said Nevada has always been business friendly but seems lately to be following its tax-heavy neighbor California.
"It sounds like a nominal fee, but you never like getting taxed," he said. "It's going to affect the little guys more than the big guys."