Lawton City Council unanimously vote NO on general business licensing

Published: Feb. 17, 2023 at 6:50 PM CST
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - What feels like all of Lawton has been talking about a new requirement for businesses to hold city licenses in order to operate.

City Council held a special meeting after businesses were shocked to learn of those requirements, though they were originally approved in June of 2022.

Lawton residents and business owners packed Lawton City Hall Auditorium and got what they wanted.

“The city is trying to make money off of this,” Sean Fortenbaugh Ward 6 Lawton City Councilman said. “Mayor my motion is to rescind and strict all the language and provisions in ordinances 22-16 that relate to the new general business license, and also if anyone has paid this fee already we should seek to give them their money back.”

The City of Lawton held a special meeting, to address a new requirement that business owners must obtain and pay for a general business license to operate in the City of Lawton. The vote to rescind was unanimous.

This new requirement came to many residents and business owners as a surprise when it was originally introduced.

“They didn’t hear about it last July and now they are hearing about it and they have to pay all this money,” Fortenbaugh said.

City Council members also apologized to residents and said they didn’t fully understand what was presented to them in June of last year.

They agreed the code has many errors and isn’t ready to become law, and will consider it again once the errors are fixed.

“From the feedback today, we will not be requiring background checks. If there is a state or federal background check that someone is required then we are going to ask them to provide us a copy of that showing that they pass their background check and there allowed to operate the business they are applying for. And we are looking at possibly reducing the fee,” Charlotte Brown, Community Service/ Planning Director for the City of Lawton said.

Fortenbaugh said, he is happy he was able to use his position to stand up for the people of Lawton.

“It’s times like this that make the job completely worth it,” Fortenbaugh said.

There are 14 businesses who already paid for the general licensing, and will be refunded in full. They should be hearing from License and Permits division within a week.

Lawton City Council also did not take any action on increase in fees per the most recent fee schedule ordinances 23-154 discussed in the meeting.

Council did approve the creation of a Council Liaison position which entails:

Under the supervision and direction of the City Attorney, the council liaison performs administrative duties for the Mayor and City Council that ensure effective use of time and productive interactions with staff, community partners, and the public. Represents the City Council and is responsible for building and maintaining relationships with community partners and stakeholders and providing administrative support to the City Attorney’s Office and elected officials, as required. This position handles a wide range of administrative and executive support-related tasks involving research, clerical, financial, technical duties, and other duties as assigned.

This position is an Exempt, salaried position, pursuant to FLSA guidelines.