Cities, county simplify business license application process

Officials in Reno, Sparks and Washoe County want to simplify the laborious requirements of obtaining a business license in all three jurisdictions.

And each agency is eyeing a long-term goal which is far more difficult of creating an all-encompassing regional business license that would serve for conducting business throughout Washoe County.

The three agencies initially have teamed to create a one-stop shop for business owners. Currently, any business located in one jurisdiction that conducts business in the other two jurisdictions must obtain three separate licenses.

Although that requirement won't change, beginning this January business owners seeking new licenses, or those that move its physical location, won't have to apply at three different locations Sparks, Reno and Washoe County offices. The three agencies are working behind the scenes to share information so that the information stated on an application in Sparks, for instance, gets transferred to Reno and Washoe County.

Since each agency's computer system is different, city and county staff stretched paper-thin by budget cuts will have to manually share and input business license information, says Steve Driscoll, assistant city manager with the City of Sparks.

"We have three different systems and three different sets of rules and requirements by ordinance, and to pull it all together has been the biggest challenge," Driscoll says. "The goal is to make it as easy on the customer as possible. At least for this first phase we will have to do little more work behind the scenes, but that should be transparent to the customer. They can go to one location for a new license, and that should make life better."

It may sound like a simple exchange of information, but as they move forward with plans to improve the online application process, the three government entities still aren't sure if they even will be able to extrapolate and share data between each agencies' computer systems.

Improving online applications will streamline the business license application process and further ease workload for city and county staff. Work on revamping online applications for business licenses will begin next year and is expected to take about six months using in-house resources.

The fee structure for business licenses in Washoe County and Reno and Sparks won't change.

The overall goal of a creating a regional business license is planned for 2014. As the agencies move closer to that goal, Driscoll says the entities will engage elected officials in talks about creating a regional license that could encompass several northern Nevada counties.

"Certainly we are going to want to talk to the five main counties in northern Nevada we have such strong business ties, and we will have greater ties as the economy in our region has more pressure," Driscoll says.


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