Gloucester board reconsiders changes made to business tax
The Gloucester County Board of Supervisors is reconsidering changes it made during last year’s budget deliberations to the county’s Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL) tax. The reconsideration comes after a number of local business owners have complained that they are paying upwards of 350 percent more of that tax than they were paying last year.
Board members vowed to work with county staff to help come up with a favorable resolution to how the BPOL taxes are assessed and, in turn, provide some relief to those businesses that saw such a drastic change.
The board voted last year to change the county’s BPOL structure after it was made aware that the county’s rates were not applied consistently. The way the taxes were restructured, according to county administrator Brent Fedors, should encourage the startup, growth and progression of small-, lower-mid and upper-midsized businesses; while consistently applying the state-allowable maximum rates to larger businesses across all classifications. The change generates a majority of revenues from larger businesses that he said presumably have greater capacities to pay.
He also said that the change has made Gloucester equitable in how it charges BPOL taxes to other jurisdictions of similar size.
“Some businesses weren’t aware of what was coming to them,” said at-large supervisor Ashley Chriscoe, who asked that the matter be brought up during the supervisors’ discussion period at Tuesday night’s board meeting in the colonial courthouse. “Is there anything we can look at to do for these businesses?” Chriscoe asked. “Even though we advertised and did the things we were supposed to do last year, no one really became aware (of the impacts of this) until their bills hit them this year.”
Ware district supervisor Andy James agreed, saying, “We need to get our heads together and come up with something to give a little relief to these guys.”
One of the business owners that helped precipitate the discussion on the BPOL matter was Dr. Joe Leming, owner of Courthouse Family Medicine, PLLC. He sent an e-mail to each of the supervisors and copied the Gazette-Journal; stating he learned from his accountant that he will pay an increase of 480 percent in BPOL taxes to the county this year.