City of Miami Beach Makes Improvements to Business License Process

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

City of Miami Beach Makes Improvements to Business License Process:

Initial rollout glitch sends incorrect notices but online system is up and running

The business license (BTR) application process is now a lot easier in the City of Miami Beach. For the first time, you no longer have to go into a City office to get your BTR. You can apply and pay online, then print it from your home or office.
 
Assistant City Manager Mark Taxis said, “We are really working hard at changing the experience for all of our users that are [getting] BTRs. We want it to be a seamless process. We want it to be automated as much as possible. We want you to be able to do it from your home.”
 
The BTR process is now tied into the City’s Citizen Self Service Portal which includes online payment capability. By separating the BTR process from the Conditional Use process which includes various inspections including building and fire, Taxis said, “We think it will make things go much, much faster.”
 
For next year, the system will send out reminder notices 90, 60, and 30 days in advance and “probably one week out,” Taxis said, “giving everybody an opportunity just to make that payment… [You] never have to come in.”
 
And, remember this writer’s chronicle of the BTR process for home-based businesses? It resulted in a change. Amy Mehu, Special Assistant to City Manager Jimmy Morales, said it was clear “home-based businesses are different in nature so it should be easier for a home-based business to apply and get a BTR.” The BTR process now includes a separate application module for home-based businesses which allows you to apply online and “within a few days receive approval, pay online, print online, no inspections,” she said.
 
As anyone who’s ever rolled out a new software update knows, there are usually glitches. This week, the City sent out invoices for BTR renewals which are due on September 30th but when the system generated invoices dated July 15th, it also listed the due date as July 15th. Notices were quickly sent out acknowledging the error and reminding business owners the actual due date is not until September 30.
 
Taxis said, in an effort to be helpful, rather than just sending notices letting people know they could go online and pay for their BTRs, the City’s Finance Department decided “to take that extra step… [and] generated invoices for about 6,000 BTRs.” The way the system is set up, when a user goes into their account and pays for a BTR, it generates an invoice and dates it at time of payment, so when the Finance Department created the invoice within the self-serve portal, the invoice functionality repeated the invoice date and due date as if a user had generated and paid it.
 
“We recognize it caused confusion and a less than positive experience,” Taxis said.  “Our staff was trying to do a little extra. They were trying to do something really good, but in doing that they manipulated the system and they created confusion. We remedied that and hopefully that will never happen again.”
 
That said, a system that allows the routine BTR process to be conducted online without having to take time out to go to a City office and wait in line is a huge improvement. An erroneous email can't take anything away from that in this BTR holder's eyes.
 
You can see the “application assistant” here.

 
 

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