Auburn City Council passes short-term rental business license regulations

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PHOTO BY JOSH FISHER / FOR THE OPELIKA OBSERVER

By Hannah Lester
hlester@opelikaobserver.com 

Ready to talk about short term rentals?

The Auburn City Council amended the city code, chapter 12, to include a category on short term rental business licensing regulations during its city council meeting Tuesday night. 

The amended chapter now includes regulations that require an annual business licensing fee set at a certain amount in a short-term non-primary rental or homestay. 

The amount will be fixed at “equal to a percentage of gross receipts set at 1/4 of 1% (gross receipts multiplied by .0025 provided that the minimum business license fee shall be $100.00 for businesses.”

The quarter of one percent is of the total revenue, said City Manager Megan Crouch.

The item was postponed from the last council meeting after Ward 5 Council Member Steven Dixon denied unanimous consent. He wanted to wait and confirm whether he should recuse himself from the vote, given he has run a short-term rental out of his home. 

Dixon did recuse himself from Tuesday’s vote. 

This business license ordinance will allow the city to begin enforcing the short-term rental ordinance that the council passed in March. The next step will be that the city sends letters.

“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 the zone where you may not do this and you need to cease and desist,” Crouch said. 

Following this, there will be a second reminder and then enforcement will begin — fines of $500 for every day of noncompliance or six months in jail, Crouch said. 

There will be no grace during football period, either, she said. 

The business licensing ordinance passed with Ward 4 Council Member Brett Smith voting against. Ward 3 Council Member Beth Witten said that while she was voting for the ordinance, it did not mean she agreed with the previous short term rental ordinance, that is now law. 

“I think it’s very important that we provide the proper tools and processes, which is the business license process,” she said. 

Now that the business ordinance has passed, those running short-term rentals can apply for business licenses, said Allison Edge, finance director. 

Other Business: 

  • The council commended the Auburn High School Debate Team for becoming Alabama State Tournament champions.
  • The council commended the Auburn High School Girls Tennis Team for winning the 2021 AHSA Class 7A State Champions. 
  • The council commended Abby Ronson for her year serving as the SGA director of city relations. 
  • The council authorized submittal of the 2020 municipal water pollution prevent annual report to ADEM by Morgan Water Pollution Control Facility. 
  • The council authorized submittal of the 2020 municipal water pollution prevent annual report to ADEM by Northside Water Pollution Control Facility. 
  • The council authorized reimbursement of expenditures for parks and recreation improvements. 
  • The council approved a contract with Sign World Inc. for the Boykin Community Center for a light-emitting sign for $25,600. 
  • The council approved a contract with Alabama Power Company for street lighting along Cox Road for over $41,000. 
  • The council approved a contract with Evergreen Sitework, LLC for repair of a sanitary sewer main near Sam Harris Park for over $38,000. 
  • The council approved a contract to purchase furniture for the James C. Buston, III Education and Meeting Center for over $22,000. 
  • The council approved a contract with Metro Forecasting Models for Auburn Interactive Growth Model Update for $20,000.
  • The council approved a quit-claim deed to relinquish a right of way to Lee County — Lee Road 54 and Lee Road 146, property 6214 Lee Road 54. 
  • The council approved the ‘Back to School’ tax holiday that will take place from July 16-18 and will expect school related items from city sale tax.
  • The council approved an ordinance to renew a non-exclusive franchise for Windstream FiberNet, LLC.
  • The council approved an annexation for 3389 acres for a property at the western terminus of Academy Drive. 
  • The council approved a rezoning of The Landings at Academy Drive from Rural to Developmental District Housing. 
  • The council approved a a rezoning of The Landings at Academy Drive from Comprehensive Development District to Development District Housing. 

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