The Canton City Council on Thursday approved the launch of a program named “License to Recovery” to assist local small businesses recover from the impact of the current pandemic.

Under this program, Canton will waive the occupational tax for businesses with 50 employees or fewer that are locally owned and operated. The city will refund to businesses those occupational taxes that have already been paid to date this year or waive the taxes for businesses that have requested an extension during the pandemic.

“Canton supports the hard work of local business owners and understands that the last couple of months have been anything but normal,” Mayor Bill Grant said. “We know that having operating cash is important now more than ever for these entrepreneurs and this program of rebating occupational taxes will give some of that cash back to help with recovery.”

City staff noted that the total collection of occupational taxes so far this fiscal year are $128,000 over budgeted revenues. The anticipated cost of the rebate program is less than $350,000.

“Staff will begin to send letters starting the week of May 25 to all licensed businesses in the city limits of Canton to inform them of the program and provide them access to an application for participation into the program,” said City Manager Billy Peppers. “The application will additionally be available online beginning June 1. Once the applications are received, we believe that we can verify and begin processing returns or waivers within a matter of days.

The Council requested that the city bring an ordinance revision to the June meeting cycle that would make permanent the current executive order by Grant that allows restaurants to sell beer and wine packages with to-go orders. If approved, this would allow all licensed businesses that currently have consumption on premises capabilities to additionally sell beer and wine packages to go.

“This is a chance to create additional economic capacity for transactions between patrons and our restaurants,” said Councilwoman Sandy McGrew.

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