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818 L:ake St. (Google Maps)

The City of Evanston, which now licenses just over 500 business, will require more than 4,000 to register if the City Council adopts an ordinance up for introduction tonight.

The city hopes to nearly triple its take from business fees — from $53,000 to $144,000 — under the new scheme.

City officials, who base their estimates of potential new registrations on business registration lists already maintained by the state, claims the new scheme will provide “a more comprehensive record of businesses operating in Evanston to better inform economic development planning and allow for increased communication of procurement and business opportunities, city policies and available resources.”

Non-profit businesses would be exempt from the new registration rules, but all home-based businesses and professionals licensed by the state would be covered.

Under the latest version of the plan, which in one form or another has been under consideration for over a decade, would let home-based businesses register without paying a fee and would set the fee for all other businesses at $75 per year.

The plan would eliminate the existing business license scheme, which, for the few hundred businesses covered, had fees ranging from $75 to $250 a year, depending on the size of the space the business occupied.

Food service establishments would still be separately licensed by the Health Department.

A previous version of the plan had called for imposing a $25 annual fee on the city’s estimated 2,500 home-based businesses, but aldermen in December recommended scrapping the charge for those firms.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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