1915 Kalispell Ordinance: Licensing
I recently found an online directory of Kalispell City ordinances and thought it’d be intriguing to see what some of the ordinances of the past were. If I can find enough interesting material, I hope to share at least one ordinance from each year. My last post covered 1913, and I’m going to skip 1914 which mostly dealt with establishing water meters and a Water Works department. This post pertains to 1915, specifically relating to an ordinance that established licensing requirements for various professions.
Ordinance #316 was approved on March 1, 1915. This ordinance was put in place to regulate and license certain industries and occupations, and to provide penalties if licenses were not taken care of as required.
Specifically, this ordinance required that the following license fees would be required (my comments are in italics):
- Any business or person who sold liquor in quantities of more than a quart must pay a fee of $5 per quarter, but anyone who sold in quantities less than a quart would pay a license fee of $137.50 per quarter. Possibly the much higher fee was because bars made more money selling drinks than establishments that sold bottles of liquor (such as a town store)
- Any brewer of malt liquors must pay $10 per quarter. If you made malt liquors you paid more than if you sold liquor someone else made. Did the city collect double for that liquor? Once from the maker and once from the seller?
- Billiard/Pool/Bagatelle proprietors were required to pay $2.50 per table per quarter. Sounds like a way to reduce number of tables – these owners probably also had to pay liquor license fees.
- Meanwhile, a bowling alley owner would have to pay $5 per quarter.
- Pawn brokers paid $30 per quarter and had to allow the Chief of Police to inspect records of transactions.
- An employment bureau fee was $5 per quarter. In addition, the employment bureau had to keep records of what they charged for their service and allow monthly inspections by the Chief of Police.
- Shooting gallery owner? $5 per quarter.
- Roller skating rink manager? $5 per month. Not sure why this was a monthly fee when everything else was per quarter – perhaps they were outside and only operated a certain number of months per year.
- Anyone who sells “oleomargarine, butterine, or imitations of cheese” must pay $15 per quarter. Butterine was what margarine was originally called and both oleomargarine and butterine were ‘fake’ versions of butter. Apparently “fake” cheese and butter required license fees.
- For cigarette sellers? That cost $10 per quarter. That fee was double the fee to sell bottles of liquor – interesting.
- A traveling merchant would have to pay a fee of $12.50 per quarter. If that merchant used a wagon with one animal it would be $20. $30 if there were two or more animals.
- Restaurateurs? It was $3 per quarter.
- $20 per quarter if someone sold utensils, articles, wares, merchandise from a stand, vehicle or other temporary structure.
- The motion picture business also had a fee – $25 per year which could be paid annually in advance.
- And then there’s the circus. If one ran a circus, “menagerie, dog and pony show or other tent show with seating capacity for 1,000 or over” they’d have to pay license fees for each day. If they charged 25 cents for admission, the fee was $50 per day. If they charged 50 cents, then it was $125 per day but they’d have to make sure they did not have more than half their seats as reserved. And they could not charge attendees more than 50 cents per seat. If they did, no license was provided.
Before a license was issued in any of the above cases, the ordinance called for any structure to be used to be inspected by the City Health Officer to make sure it was sanitary and proper for the specific occupation. The city would inspect at least once a month.
The mayor could revoke any license if “in his judgment the business, occupation or avocation sought to be licensed may be detrimental to the public morals or health, or liable to provoke a breach of peace.” Refunds were not provided if a license was revoked.
Anyone who ignored the licenses requirements will be found guilty of a misdemeanor and fined up to $100.
How are license fees in 2023?
As for how things are in 2023, certain businesses still require licenses and license fees. For example, an annual traveling vendor permit is currently $50 but selling something at a special event is $10 per event. I think that would compare quite well to the traveling merchant of 1915 who paid $12.50 a quarter which interestingly enough equals $50 a year!
But other fees are much different now than they were in 1915. Take liquor licenses for example. In 1915, it cost $550 per year to be able to sell drinks. Today, that cost is between $400-800 with a processing fee of $400. So $800-1200. That’s definitely more than in 1915, and in fact, if you sell beer and wine in a restaurant now there is also a one time fee that could be $5-20K. If you manufacture beer, it now costs about $500 per year but in 1915 it was only $40 per year.
So this ordinance was probably the start of the current licensing fees although most fees today are higher than they were back then. Which does make sense since businesses make a lot more money now.
As always if you have any real estate related questions, feel free to give me a call on 406-270-3667 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.