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July 09. 2014 9:48PM

Salem drops $50 permit for Sunday sales

SALEM — Local businesses will no longer have to pay a $50 annual permit to remain open on Sundays.

This week, selectmen voted 4-1 to do away with the Sunday and holiday sales permits. The major issues with the permits revolved around the difficulty in finding out how many businesses are actually paying the permits, a lack of enforcement and the fact that Salem is one of the only communities in the state still requiring the permits.

“There were concerns raised about not charging all businesses because there was not a master list,” said Town Manager Keith Hickey.

Hickey said the town has no comprehensive list of the businesses and that it would take a significant amount of effort from town staff to compile such a list.

Hickey said the town collects about $11,000 a year from the permits, and the amount has been declining in recent years.

“The staff recommends that the board no longer charge businesses to open on Sundays with a Sunday sales license,” said Hickey.

Selectman Stephen Campbell was the lone board member to oppose the move.

Campbell said he agreed that the current method of collecting the permit fees isn’t working, but that with better tracking and enforcement the permits could bring in more than the $11,000 a year. He said he would hate for the town to do away with a potential revenue source and then have the burden fall on taxpayers.

Before doing away with the permit fees, Campbell recommended the town look at ways that the fees could be adjusted based on the size of the businesses.

Selectman Everett McBride said that Salem and Manchester are the only two municipalities in the state that still collect the Sunday permit fees.

McBride said the town can look at ways to keep costs down and keep everyone’s taxes lower.

“I don’t want to be like Massachusetts where it is fines, fees and taxes,” he said.

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