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City fee would hit professionals

Evanston would charge accountants, barbers and all other state-licensed professionals a business registration and inspection fee under a plan discussed by the Human Services Committee Monday.

Evanston would charge accountants, barbers and all other state-licensed professionals a business registration and inspection fee under a plan discussed by the Human Services Committee Monday.

Alderman Delores Holmes has been pushing for the measure for months — arguing that health and sanitation issues have cropped up at some state-licensed local businesses.

The city gets complaints from residents about these situations, Holmes says, but doesn’t have the power to do much about them now.

While the issues raised have focused mainly on medical and personal care businesses, the proposed new registration fee would also sweep in other licensed professionals, including architects, attorneys and accountants.

The city staff has estimated that a registration fee of $150 for health-related businesses would bring in about $22,500. But the staff estimates hiring a sanitarian to conduct those inspections would cost $75,000 in salary and benefits.

The staff claims the city would be able to make up the shortfall by charging each of the other 750 professional businesses in the city a $75 fee.

That part of the program, a staff memo claims, would cost nothing to administer. But in reality, the staff plan calls for diverting existing staff from other duties to conduct those inspections.

Among nearby communities surveyed by the city staff, only Mount Prospect has a comprehensive inspection and registration program for state-licensed businesses.

And city attorney Elke Purze noted that Mount Prospect’s ordinance has not been tested in court for compliance with state limits on municipal power in dealing with licensed professions.

Several other towns checked by city staff inspect just nail salons, beauty shops and massage businesses.

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