2/9/2012 1:54:00 PM County dept. won't handle sales tax collections P&Z Commission says no to Development Services' proposal
By Scott Orr Contributing Reporter
PRESCOTT - The Yavapai County Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday voted 6-1 to reject a proposal by the county's Development Services department to enforce state sales tax licensing as part of the zoning code.
Development Services Senior Planner Tammy DeWitt said the request was driven by complaints from business owners who have an Arizona Transaction Privilege, or sales tax, license, as required by law, when competitors did not have one.
"Who enforces this now?" Commissioner Tex Province asked.
"The state," DeWitt said.
"They can call the state (with a complaint)," he said.
"Our experience has been, they don't check," DeWitt said.
Land Use Manager Boyce MacDonald explained that hay sales had brought the issue to the attention of the department.
"Even (some of) the sales that had been approved with a use permit (through Development Services) did not have a sales tax license," he said. Being able to enforce that requirement would create a "level playing field," he added, because the department would ask for proof of the license before they issued a use permit.
Commissioner Tom Reilly asked what would be done with existing businesses - would they be checked?
MacDonald said there would be no "fishing expedition," and that the department would check for licenses as permits came up for renewal or as new permits were issued.
"Is checking for sales tax licenses consistent with land use law?" Reilly asked.
"We feel it is, yes," MacDonald said.
One member of the public spoke at the meeting. Dick Busby said, "This is overstepping the bounds of enforcement. You already have state laws dealing with it, and if the state doesn't check for sales tax licenses, why should the county's land use (department do it)?"
DeWitt said Development Services has received complaints from vendors at outdoor shows like craft fairs that not all vendors had licenses.
"Is there no way for you to go to the state when you get these complaints?" Commissioner Joan McClelland asked.
MacDonald repeated that checking during the permitting process would create "level ground" from the outset.
Reilly asked Deputy County Attorney Randy Schurr whether it would be legal for Development Services to withhold a business' certificate of occupancy because it didn't have a sales tax license.
"I fail to see how this issue is land-use related," Schurr said. "We could try it, but I don't know how it would hold up in court."
Reilly said he understood the idea that, when someone went to Development Services for a typical permit, they would want to check for a sales tax license, but "Development Services is considering that they're going to go into a flea market or a farmers' market and start checking for transaction privilege licenses?"
"Well...yeah," De Witt said.
"Wrong. Wrong. That's not your job," Reilly said.
The commission voted 6-1 to recommend against the county Board of Supervisors adopting the plan, with Commissioner Joe Jackson dissenting.