Licenses and fees for arcade games, such as the ones shown here at Escape bowling alley in Troy, were temporarily suspended for 2021 to help businesses recover from the economic toll of the pandemic.

Licenses and fees for arcade games, such as the ones shown here at Escape bowling alley in Troy, were temporarily suspended for 2021 to help businesses recover from the economic toll of the pandemic.

Photo by Jonathan Shead


Amusement businesses, auto washes get a break in Troy

City Council approves suspension of license fees for struggling industries

By: Jonathan Shead | Troy Times | Published March 16, 2021

 Bowling alleys, skating rinks, car washes and other businesses across Troy won’t have to pay 2021 amusement license fees after the City Council unanimously approved temporarily suspending them for the year.

Bowling alleys, skating rinks, car washes and other businesses across Troy won’t have to pay 2021 amusement license fees after the City Council unanimously approved temporarily suspending them for the year.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

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TROY — As COVID-19 restrictions continue to take an economic toll on local businesses, Troy officials said they have taken steps to help alleviate some of the financial responsibilities normally placed on a group of local businesses.

The Troy City Council unanimously approved March 8 a request from City Clerk Aileen Dickson to temporarily suspend licensing requirements for amusement places and auto washes in the city.

The City Clerk’s Office, Dickson explained at the March 8 Zoom meeting, is responsible, through a list of city codes, to collect fees annually from businesses that have amusement devices — video games, pinball machines, pool rooms — and car washes. Typical businesses that may pay a license fee are bowling alleys, skating rinks, restaurants, clubs and Veterans of Foreign Wars halls.

“These businesses are all required to be licensed under chapters in the city code and pay fees annually, and those businesses have been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions,” Dickson said. “We felt that it would be the right thing to do to give those businesses a break in 2021 and not require them to license.”

Council’s approval included the one-year suspension of the annual licensing fees, a waiver for the 25%-50% late fees associated with businesses who paid after Jan. 15 and reimbursements for the businesses that had paid prior to City Council’s suspension of the fees.

The city had only a few of the annual license holders renew their licenses this year, Dickson explained. From the 20 amusement licenses the city normally has, only five have applied, and out of the seven car wash licensees, only five have applied. The City Clerk’s Office started accepting license renewals for the 2021 year in December 2020.

Escape bowling alley owner Jeff Forman was one of the applicants for renewal of the license. At the time, Forman had no other choice but to pay the renewal fee, he said.

“I appreciate (the City Council) thinking of us and being aware that we’re struggling,” Forman said about the fee suspension.

Being a business that was only able to turn on its lights for about 4 1/2 months last year, Forman said his company saw negative economic impacts stem directly from the closures.

“We’ve obviously suffered a huge negative impact. We were only open last year for about 4 1/2 months, and some of that time — September through December — we were limited in the amount of people. There were capacity limits, no food and beverage,” he said. “It’s difficult when you’re closed and you’re only open for 4 1/2 months. A lot of the bills don’t go away.”

Escape bowling alley pays roughly $1,700 in amusement license fees annually, Forman said. “Every dollar gives another day. You just don’t know. Everything has been so uncertain,” he added.

Annually, amusement license fees bring in approximately $14,000 for the city, and car wash license fee revenue equates to approximately $175. Car Wash licenses cost $25 per year for each business.

Businesses with amusement devices pay an amount significantly higher than car washes, starting with a $100 application fee. Coin-operated devices can cost a business between $50 and $100, and mechanical rides require a $100 annual fee plus an additional $20 per day the rides are operating.

Bowling alleys pay a $50 annual fee, plus $2 for each additional lane in the business over one lane annually. Businesses with billiard tables pay a $50 annual fee plus $5 for each table over one annually.

“I just want to thank city staff for this idea. I like anything we can do to support our small businesses through these tough times,” Troy City Council member David Hamilton said at the March 8 meeting. “I know they’ve been through a lot. I know the federal government is bringing some relief, and we also recently approved the Oakland County Restaurant Relief Program, so any restaurants that are looking for a little help can talk to the city, and we can help direct you through that, as well.

“This is another thing we’re trying to do to help our small businesses get through this,” he added.

For more information, visit troymi.gov.

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