It's been said you can't fight city hall but a group of Halton Hills retailers dispelled that notion earlier this week when they got a town committee to rethink its new policy of charging retail establishments an annual licence fee. The town passed the bylaw last June which saw retail businesses charged an annual fee ranging from $82.50 to $220. The idea behind the bylaw was that a licence fee would set a community standard that all businesses would operate on a level playing field and the public would be protected from health and safety risks or unfair business practices. A noble idea, but one that requires a lot of input from retailers and planning about how best to implement it (i.e. Should the fee be based on the size of operation? Hours of operation? Should homebased businesses be charged?) However, it wasn't until the first bills went out late last year that local retailers realized they were being hit with what one called "a money grab". The new bylaw shouldn't have come as a shock to retailers as the town held two public meetings (both poorly attended) and details of the draft bylaw were reported in this newspaper and other local media last February. Then-Chamber of Commerce president Norm Paget even said at the time the bylaw "puts in some common sense and cuts out the paper work" but he questioned why the drafters of the bylaw didn't consult with the business community first. Good point. This entire matter boils down to a question of communication-- or lack of-- between town bureaucrats and local business operators. A one-time registration fee, as suggested by one retailer, at first blush, makes sense. However, it is incumbent for the town to discuss any such fees with local retailers and retailers to pay more attention to town policies which affect them.