At least a year after it launched, new Tacoma City Councilman Robert Thoms’ home-based political consulting firm has obtained its city business license, according to records Thoms has provided to The News Tribune.
Thoms’ business partner, John Jolibois, filed the licensing paperwork for The Navigation Group with the city last week after the newspaper reported the firm didn’t have the required annual license.
The records show Jolibois paid the city’s $90 annual business license fee for both the years 2012 and 2013. The firm’s business license application also indicates The Navigation Group grosses less than $250,000 annually, which exempts it from paying city business and occupation taxes.
“John went to the Tacoma Licensing Office on (Feb.) 27th to address this once it was known we inadvertently didn’t file in a timely fashion,” Thoms said Friday in an email.
Thoms added that Jolibois also obtained a home occupation license required in Tacoma and paid $85 for a required business license in Olympia, where the firm conducts business.
Thoms, a former aide to Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, was appointed to the City Council in January from a field of seven candidates vying to fill the vacant District 2 seat. Thoms, who plans to run for the seat when it comes up for election later this year, has been operating his private consulting firm since at least February 2012, records show.
The city requires any for-profit business based in Tacoma, or that engages in business activity in the city, to obtain an annual business license. Businesses that register and obtain the license more than 30 days after engaging in business activities can face late-filing fees or other penalties, the city’s tax and license manager has said.
Because he voluntarily registered, city officials didn’t assess any penalties against Thoms’ firm, as is the city’s long-standing policy, according to City Attorney Elizabeth Pauli. But Thoms on Monday opted to pay the city $125, the amount a staff review determined would have applied to his late filing.
In all, Thoms’ firm paid Tacoma $380 in fees and penalties.
Last week, after The News Tribune determined his firm didn’t have the required licenses and contacted him about the matter, Thoms said he thought The Navigation Group had all of its required permits. He referred further questions to Jolibois, who later told the newspaper the firm had not yet obtained a license, in part because he and Thoms hadn’t yet decided where to base the business’s operations.
The News Tribune’s search of public records found The Navigation Group first registered with the state for a Unified Business Identifier — a 9-digit business registration number — in February 2012. Thoms’ professional résumé, which he submitted with his council appointment application, states The Navigation Group has been operating since 2011.
On its website, the firm lists among its clients the Foss Waterway Seaport, San Francisco State University, iQ Technologies and General Plastics Manufacturing Company. Before Thoms joined the council, The Navigation Group received two $5,000 contracts from Metro Parks Tacoma and a $42,500 contract from Tacoma Public Schools, records show.
Thoms said in an email Friday that the business licensing process “has been illuminating, and I empathize with small business owners because it hasn’t been one or two visits, calls, etc. to square this away.”
He also vowed “to use this to make the process more streamlined, more intuitive and frankly more definitive for those seeking to open a business.”Lewis Kamb: 253-597-8542 l