City Council Chambers

 

At its regular meeting on Tuesday, the Auburn City Council approved an amendment to the city’s business license ordinance to include short-term rentals, a move that will begin the process of bringing those businesses operating under the STR regulations adopted by the Council into compliance.

The Council approved the amendment on a 7-1 vote, with Councilman Brett Smith voting against the measure and Councilman Steven Dixon abstaining. 

Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tem Beth Witten explained why she was voting for the amendment despite being opposed and voting against the short-term rental regulations passed in March. 

“The reason I’m voting in favor of this is not because I’m in favor of the amended (short-term rental) ordinance that passed, although that is our current law,” she said. “But I think it’s very important that we provide the proper tools and processes, which is the business license process, so for that reason I’ll be in favor of this piece of the process.”

Councilman Bob Parsons inquired about the city’s contract with Granicus, a company that provides governments with monitoring and compliance software and services for short-term rentals. 

“I think what’s important to note is on enforcement we’ve been at a standstill until this business license ordinance is passed because we need to notify everybody we believe, per Granicus, to your point,” said City Manager Megan McGowen Crouch. “We have data. They (Granicus) send emails every day to a large group of us about how ready they are to help us. I think we have the appropriate package (with Granicus) at this time unless the finance director tells me differently. 

“We are ready to send letters but we needed this business license ordinance to pass and then everybody is going to get a letter, that we believe is operating a short-term rental, that says one of two things — either you’re in the zone that you can lawfully do this and you need to get a business license or you’re in a zone where you may not do this and you need to cease and desist.”

Crouch added that after the first round of letters are sent, the city would wait about 30 days before sending a second letter with a strong reminder to “please stop this.” 

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the Council approved exempting certain items from city sales tax for the “Back to School” Sales Tax Holiday, which is set to run from July 16-18. 

Exempt items include clothing priced at less than $100 per item; computers and computer software and school computer supplies; and general school supplies, like textbooks, reference maps and art supplies. 

Further information can be found at www.auburnalabama.org/tax-holiday/. 

The City Council also recognized the Auburn High School Debate team for winning the Alabama State tournament sweepstakes in the debate sector and finishing third overall and the Auburn High Girls Tennis team for winning the 2021 AHSAA Class 7A state title. 

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