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HomeNewsArchivesBUSINESSES TO RENEW LICENSES ON-LINE SOON

BUSINESSES TO RENEW LICENSES ON-LINE SOON

Businesses in the territory are in for a welcome surprise from cyberspace come January 2001, Andrew Rutnik, commissioner of Licensing and Consumer Affairs said Tuesday.
Rutnik's remarks came before the continuing Fiscal Year 2001 budget hearings in the Senate Finance Committee, which heard testimony from DCLA, the Public Services Commission and the Taxi Commission. The later two agencies fall under the aegis of DLCA.
Rutnik said DLCA is completing the final stages of a website, which will allow businesses to apply for a new license, renew an existing license, or cancel a license, all from their own computers.
He said the innovative procedure started almost a year ago when the agency decided to take the lead in introducing online licensing in the territory, a daunting project Rutnik said. However, with the installation of the agency's Y2K compliant computer system, its plan was "off and running."
Annual emails will remind business of renewal dates, or penalties due for late renewals. New applicants can check the status of their license online. Rutnik said DLCA plans to work with the Internal Revenue Bureau to include a method for applying for tax clearance letters online, and having them emailed to DLCA. "Don't wait in line, go online," is our motto he said.
Rutnik also had some bad news. "I would like to publicly admit failure," he said, "in eliminating gypsy taxis." His initial effort to get rid of the gypsies had a limited effect, he said, adding that "this in no way reflects the hard work of Harold Baker, our new director."
Rutnik explained that though the agency had licenced 48 gypsies, none have returned to the mall and rarely serve the local population. He said the taxi industry sometimes turns a blind eye to this because they don't want the responsibility of serving the entire community. He said he and Baker are working to come up with a mandatory plan that is fair to all taxis and local customers.
Rutnik outline a three-pronged plan to aggressively generate revenue. He said he estimates there's a 30 percent underground (unlicenced) economy. With enforced compliance to licensing that would be a 30 percent increase in government revenues from licensing, FICA taxes, gross receipts and unemployment taxes.
The agency is also proposing legislation which would penalize, through fines, anyone who hires an unlicenced business. Also, DCLA is proposing another piece of legislation requiring business to inform the agency 30 days before ceasing operation. Rutnik said chasing down these businesses wastes about 35 percent of the agency's workload a month.
Rutnik said if his new measures could be implemented he estimates they could realize about $980,000 revenue annually, which could go back to the General Fund. Committee chairwoman Lorraine Berry smiled and said, "Oh, we'd probably give some of that back to your department."
Rutnik wasn't getting off easy, however. He faced a barrage of questions on everything from hair braiding issues to prostitution. DCLA oversees 12 boards which include a vast range of responsibilities including the Board of Barbers, Beauticians and Manicurists. This later board has a letter before Gov. Charles W. Turnbull now, Rutnik said, which he hopes will strike a compromise between the hair braiders and the board.
The issue of prostitution has fallen by the wayside, Sen. Gregory Bennerson said, since Hurricane Hugo. An ex-police officer, Bennerson said between 1982 and 1989 DCLA and the police department in tandem had vigorously pursued the matter. "As a revenue source, I think we should legalize it," Rutnik said, smiling. He said moral issues were at hand, and the problem lies in proving it. The police have to initiate the action, he said, before DCLA can step in.
Harold Baker, director of the taxicab commission, said his goals for FY 2001 include eliminating gypsy cabs and implementing a training program for operators . He also mentioned several revenue generating measures. These include increasing the annual medallion license fee from $100 to $200. There are 1,786 registered taxis now in the territory, so this represents an additional $178,600. Baker also wants to increase the bi-annual inspection fee from $15 to $25, which would generate $44,650 annually.
He said if the division is required to reduce its overall budget by 5 percent, it will come from the director's salary and travel projections.
Keithley Jospeh, executive director of the PSC, presented an overview of the commission. He said the commission makes assessments on utilities to facilitate investigations, analysis and complaint resolution. In FY 2000 a total of $400,000 was collected from the V.I. Telephone Co., the V.I. Water and Power Authority, Transportation Services of St. John, Varlack Ventures, and the St. Thomas-St. John Cable TV to cover the commission's operating expenses.
None of the agency's budgets adhered to the recommended cuts in the governor's proposed FY 2001 budget. Berry thanked all agencies for participating in this final phase of the budget hearings, where they all had submitted answers to questions posed by the Post-Auditor's office.
Now, Berry said, after all department budgets are heard, the Finance committee will be ready for the budget "mark-up," the final paring down of the funds.
Committee members attending Tuesday's hearing were Sens. Berry, Bennerson, Violet Anne Golden, George Goodwin and David Jones. Non members Donald "Duck" Cole and Vargrave Richards also attended.
Wednesday at 10 a.m. in St. Thomas the committee will hear testimony on the Office of the Inspector General, WTJX public TV, and the V.I. Council on the Arts.

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Businesses in the territory are in for a welcome surprise from cyberspace come January 2001, Andrew Rutnik, commissioner of Licensing and Consumer Affairs said Tuesday.
Rutnik's remarks came before the continuing Fiscal Year 2001 budget hearings in the Senate Finance Committee, which heard testimony from DCLA, the Public Services Commission and the Taxi Commission. The later two agencies fall under the aegis of DLCA.
Rutnik said DLCA is completing the final stages of a website, which will allow businesses to apply for a new license, renew an existing license, or cancel a license, all from their own computers.
He said the innovative procedure started almost a year ago when the agency decided to take the lead in introducing online licensing in the territory, a daunting project Rutnik said. However, with the installation of the agency's Y2K compliant computer system, its plan was "off and running."
Annual emails will remind business of renewal dates, or penalties due for late renewals. New applicants can check the status of their license online. Rutnik said DLCA plans to work with the Internal Revenue Bureau to include a method for applying for tax clearance letters online, and having them emailed to DLCA. "Don't wait in line, go online," is our motto he said.
Rutnik also had some bad news. "I would like to publicly admit failure," he said, "in eliminating gypsy taxis." His initial effort to get rid of the gypsies had a limited effect, he said, adding that "this in no way reflects the hard work of Harold Baker, our new director."
Rutnik explained that though the agency had licenced 48 gypsies, none have returned to the mall and rarely serve the local population. He said the taxi industry sometimes turns a blind eye to this because they don't want the responsibility of serving the entire community. He said he and Baker are working to come up with a mandatory plan that is fair to all taxis and local customers.
Rutnik outline a three-pronged plan to aggressively generate revenue. He said he estimates there's a 30 percent underground (unlicenced) economy. With enforced compliance to licensing that would be a 30 percent increase in government revenues from licensing, FICA taxes, gross receipts and unemployment taxes.
The agency is also proposing legislation which would penalize, through fines, anyone who hires an unlicenced business. Also, DCLA is proposing another piece of legislation requiring business to inform the agency 30 days before ceasing operation. Rutnik said chasing down these businesses wastes about 35 percent of the agency's workload a month.
Rutnik said if his new measures could be implemented he estimates they could realize about $980,000 revenue annually, which could go back to the General Fund. Committee chairwoman Lorraine Berry smiled and said, "Oh, we'd probably give some of that back to your department."
Rutnik wasn't getting off easy, however. He faced a barrage of questions on everything from hair braiding issues to prostitution. DCLA oversees 12 boards which include a vast range of responsibilities including the Board of Barbers, Beauticians and Manicurists. This later board has a letter before Gov. Charles W. Turnbull now, Rutnik said, which he hopes will strike a compromise between the hair braiders and the board.
The issue of prostitution has fallen by the wayside, Sen. Gregory Bennerson said, since Hurricane Hugo. An ex-police officer, Bennerson said between 1982 and 1989 DCLA and the police department in tandem had vigorously pursued the matter. "As a revenue source, I think we should legalize it," Rutnik said, smiling. He said moral issues were at hand, and the problem lies in proving it. The police have to initiate the action, he said, before DCLA can step in.
Harold Baker, director of the taxicab commission, said his goals for FY 2001 include eliminating gypsy cabs and implementing a training program for operators . He also mentioned several revenue generating measures. These include increasing the annual medallion license fee from $100 to $200. There are 1,786 registered taxis now in the territory, so this represents an additional $178,600. Baker also wants to increase the bi-annual inspection fee from $15 to $25, which would generate $44,650 annually.
He said if the division is required to reduce its overall budget by 5 percent, it will come from the director's salary and travel projections.
Keithley Jospeh, executive director of the PSC, presented an overview of the commission. He said the commission makes assessments on utilities to facilitate investigations, analysis and complaint resolution. In FY 2000 a total of $400,000 was collected from the V.I. Telephone Co., the V.I. Water and Power Authority, Transportation Services of St. John, Varlack Ventures, and the St. Thomas-St. John Cable TV to cover the commission's operating expenses.
None of the agency's budgets adhered to the recommended cuts in the governor's proposed FY 2001 budget. Berry thanked all agencies for participating in this final phase of the budget hearings, where they all had submitted answers to questions posed by the Post-Auditor's office.
Now, Berry said, after all department budgets are heard, the Finance committee will be ready for the budget "mark-up," the final paring down of the funds.
Committee members attending Tuesday's hearing were Sens. Berry, Bennerson, Violet Anne Golden, George Goodwin and David Jones. Non members Donald "Duck" Cole and Vargrave Richards also attended.
Wednesday at 10 a.m. in St. Thomas the committee will hear testimony on the Office of the Inspector General, WTJX public TV, and the V.I. Council on the Arts.