Cost of business licenses quadruple

Jump marks the first time the license cost has changed since 1949

Posted: Friday, September 12, 2003

FAIRBANKS - One cost of doing business in Alaska quadrupled this month as the price of a two-year business license rose from $50 to $200.

The jump marks the first time the cost of the license has changed since 1949, said Rick Urion, state director of occupational licensing.

"We've had a surprising few complaints," Urion said.

The state considered other alternatives, such as charging sole proprietors less and having larger businesses pay more.

The new fees took effect Sept. 4. They're still cheaper than what Gov. Frank Murkowski proposed earlier this year - an increase to $400 for a two-year license. Lawmakers approved the lower figure.

The law requires anyone who conducts business in the state - from Wal-Mart to vendors at the Tanana Valley State Fair - to purchase the same biennial license.

Kris Knutzen, coordinator of the Holiday Marketplace, said she's interested in how vendors at upcoming winter bazaars will respond.

"The crafts that they produce are a labor of love and I think, yeah, it would probably be pretty detrimental to them," Knutzen said. Vendors at some community events may only earn $200 over a weekend, she said.

The increased fee is expected to raise $4 million more per year for the state's general fund.

Exemptions are made for people who are selling goods or doing business as a rare, one-time-only situation. But even nonprofit organizations and vendors at bazaars, farmers' markets and fairs who only do business once a year are required to get a state license, said an administrative clerk for the Alaska Business Licensing Program in Anchorage.

The cost remains low enough that most small business owners may grouse about the change, but they will not see a sizable hit to their bottom line, said Ron Veltkamp, public information officer for the U.S. Small Business Administration in Anchorage.

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