Internet may cut out red tape for new firms

April 22, 1998|By STEVEN T. DENNIS

With the help of the Internet, the tedious task of applying for a business license could become a lot easier in Washington County.

To obtain a business license, a person must go to at least six different state and local agencies for approvals, according to Dennis J. Weaver, clerk of Washington County Circuit Court.

Under the new program, Weaver's office will collect information and fees required from applicants. The clerk's office will then e-mail the relevant agencies for approvals and issue the license.

Deputy Clerk Rick Hemphill said applicants eventually could apply and pay with a credit card for license renewals on the Internet.


The new licensing system, which could be in place in September, will eliminate a time-consuming paper filing process that hasn't changed much since the 19th century, Hemphill said.

There are 6,229 business licenses in Washington County, representing 2,879 businesses, Hemphill said.

Business licenses are issued for a variety of establishments and trades, including billiards halls, restaurants, cigarette sales, vending machines, warehouses and plumbers, among others.

Hemphill said that Maryland is the first state to implement an Internet licensing process, and Washington County will be the first county to use the process.

The state-funded program will cost about $100,000 statewide and will use computers already owned by the county, Hemphill said.

County Administrator Rodney M. Shoop said the county's investments in technology over the past few years was paying dividends in increased efficiency and better customer service.

Shoop said the county Permits and Inspections office also was implementing one-stop shopping for county permits.

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