Worried about fairness, the Ashland City Council has put proposed business license changes on hold.

Worried about fairness, the Ashland City Council has put proposed business license changes on hold.

It's not clear when the council will take up the issue again after voting on Tuesday to go back to the drawing board and have a study session on possible changes.

The city's administration department said on Thursday that no study session will be planned until fall.

However, the finance department plans to come before the council at an April 19 meeting to talk about a variety of fees, including potential business license fees, Ashland Finance and Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg said on Thursday.

Councilors have debated how to have a fair business license fee structure, without, for example, putting financial burdens on people trying to make ends meet by cleaning houses, or growers, crafters and artists who sell items from small booths.

In the past few months, booth vendors flooded councilors with e-mails and phone calls objecting to a proposed minimum $75 business license fee. Ashland's current business license law exempts booth vendors from having to buy a license.

Councilors also have considered lowering fees to try and get more one-person home-based businesses to buy a license.

Many people believe Ashland has a relatively high number of home-based businesses flying under the radar.

City officials would like to have a better idea of the number and types of businesses in town, and well as the number of people working. They have proposed requiring nonprofit groups to obtain business licenses, but at no cost, so that those nonprofits — and their employee numbers — can be accurately counted.

Ashland also appears to have a relatively high number of nonprofit groups in town.

City officials and community members are working on an economic development plan, but those planning efforts are hampered by an incomplete picture of the local economy.

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.