Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach and the City Council disagree on whether to end a business license fee that generates about $400,000 in annual revenue.
On a first reading Tuesday, the council voted 5-4 to study the issue further. Several council members believe eliminating the fees, which cost between $15 and $550 for certain businesses each year, would lead to a growth in new business and jobs.
Cab drivers, security guards, pawn store owners and people in related professions are required to pay the fees.
"I had small businesses," said City Council President Keith King. "At one time, I had over 35 fees and taxes. I think we have too many for businesses. So I think (the vote) is a step in the right direction."
Council members Helen Collins and Joel Miller agreed, saying that losing the fee revenue in the short term could result in far greater revenue eventually.
However, Colorado Springs Police Deputy Chief Vince Niski said he's not convinced of that, because the fine for not paying the fee is a mere $20.
"I don't think a business will come to Colorado Springs because we don't have a license fee," he said. "(Businesses) pass (the fee) on to the consumer. Why get a license if the fine for not getting one is just $20?"
Charles Tillman, a security guard, said his concern isn't the fee, but the amount.
"If they would lower the price a little bit, maybe to like 50 bucks, I wouldn't see a problem with that."
The city clerk's office said it's rare for a city to not charge a fee for business licenses, and that what the city charges is in line with other Front Range cities.
The office said businesses still would be required to register if the fees are eliminated, and $20 background checks will continue to be requited for cab drivers and employees of security businesses.
Businesses that sell marijuana and alcohol, or offer adult entertainment, would not be exempt from fees, the office said.
The council expects a final vote on the matter in August.