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City Waives Fees For Recreation Teachers
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Riverbank's City Council decided to forgo collecting a $75 business license fee from recreation department class instructors and exempt them from the ordinance rather than risk driving the instructors and their classes out of town.

Director of Finance Marisela Hernandez told the council at Monday's noon meeting that for years it was assumed the instructors who provide the classes such as Ballet Folklorico, Zumba and Tai-Chi did not need a business license because they offer city-sponsored programs. But a recent review of the Municipal Code determined the instructors, as independent contractors, are required to obtain business licenses.

They fall into the broad category of business owners who offer services here, although in reality they are typically individuals or very small business owners with a skill or passion for a particular subject they want to share with others, Hernandez added.

Informed they would need to obtain licenses and pay the fee, many of them said it would no longer be worth their while to provide classes. The instructors could not absorb the cost and raising the cost of classes would price many possible class members out of the market.

To maintain a variety of class offerings and provide financial incentive for instructors, they are allowed to retain 70 percent of the collected fees while the city keeps the rest to offset its costs.

Hernandez therefore suggested amending the municipal code to exempt those independent contractors who specifically provide services to the city's Parks & Recreation Department - and the council agreed to the recommendation by a 4-0 vote.

Hernandez emphasized the instructors remain independent contractors and not employees of the city.

Resident Charles Neal took the opportunity of pleading for business license fee exemption also for the non-profit groups who are allowed to sell Fourth of July fireworks as a fundraiser. Hernandez said the fees already have been collected for this year, but she will formally propose in the future reimbursing the affected organizations for this year's fees and the past three years' fees.