Consolidating Las Vegas Licensing Services Long Overdue

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For those of you new to Las Vegas, Nevada you may not know that we have 5 separate cities in Southern Nevada. Yes, it’s not just Las Vegas we live in–many think that’s the case, however we have 4 different Mayors and 1 Chair of the County Commission. Below is a list of the 5 cities/municipalities:

  • City of Las Vegas
  • City of North Las Vegas
  • City of Henderson
  • Boulder City
  • Clark County

Now I left out the City of Mesquite, but I believe I’m making my point that identifying the different jurisdictions for someone new to Southern Nevada can be extremely complex!

This brings me to the ongoing work being done by these cities through the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition. The cumbersome task of trying to find a way to streamline the business licensing process across jurisdictions continues. You can imagine what a daunting challenge this is–you have government employees and elected officials from 5 different cities providing input.

One of the most difficult aspects of the consolidation/streamlining process is the fact that each respective jurisdiction has their own ordinances and codes. In addition, each jurisdiction has their own fee schedules, timelines, and regulations. For example, in the City of Las Vegas a “Tavern License” will run you about $75,000.00; in Clark County you’re looking at around $2,000.00 including your investigation fees. While the City of Las Vegas has put a moratorium on many of their licensing fees for the downtown area, the fees remain the same in the rest of the City.

There are many examples to show the differences between the municipalities, but I thought pointing out the “Tavern License” best illustrated the stark contrasts between the governments. Not only do we have to deal with the differences in fees, but the processes in which the governmental staff operate under can be like night and day. An example of that deals with “temporary licenses”–issued by most jurisdictions as a way to get a business opened faster; not waiting for their suitability investigation that the police department conducts to be finalized. Most often, these investigations by law enforcement can take between 6 month and year to complete.

As a Business License Consultant in Southern Nevada I can tell you that I see frustration among my clients quite often. Recently, one of my new restaurant clients from out-of-state contacted me about opening 3 locations in the Las Vegas Valley. It just so happens that the 3 locations they picked were in 3 different cities (Henderson, Las Vegas, Clark County). When I explained to them the differences in fees, regulations, and time-frames for licensing I watched their heads spin! They really couldn’t grasp not only the difficulty involved in the licensing process, but they were just puzzled by the stark contrasts in regulations between the different municipalities. Ultimately, these clients decided on only 1 location–they couldn’t justify the additional costs associated with licensing in 2 out of the 3 jurisdictions.

Having said all that, it brings me to my point that consolidating licensing services is long overdue. We must come together as a citizenry to make doing business in Southern Nevada easier. How in the world are we going to attract new businesses from out-of-state if we make getting a business license so difficult? The answer is we won’t–working toward a unified multi-jurisdictional licensing process is the best means toward increasing entrepreneurship.