Almost halfway through the calendar year, three businesses inside the St. Clair city limits still have not paid for or received their 2013 operating license.
Those three businesses are Excel Temporary Services, McCullough Cleaners and Torch LTD, City Administrator Rick Childers said.
In February, City Attorney Kurt Voss said he would begin the process of taking legal action against more than two dozen local businesses after he was forwarded a list naming those which have not obtained their 2013 operating licenses. The board of aldermen approved the action during a meeting that month, and Voss reported to the board this month that the three businesses remain on the list.
“There are three businesses that have not gotten their licenses yet,” Voss said this month. “I will be bringing a court order to close these businesses if they do not obtain their license.”
In February, the list had 28 names on it. The deadline for businesses within the city limits to obtain their $50 operating license was Jan. 31.
The approved February motion directed Voss first to send a letter to the businesses in violation saying that if they do not obtain their license within another 30 days, legal action will be taken.
Also in February, the aldermen approved an ordinance amending Chapter 13, Section 8 of the city’s code of ordinances regarding penalties for failing to purchase or renew a business license. The amended ordinance states that “any person, company, firm or corporation or other business licensee ... which shall fail to purchase or renew a previously purchased business license on or before Jan. 31 of each year shall be subject to a penalty for late payment of said fee of 5 percent for each month or portion of a month that said license fee remains unpaid up to a maximum of 25 percent on the aggregate in addition to any other penalty prescribed by law.”
The new ordinance also states that any violations will be deemed a misdemeanor and upon conviction “shall be punished by a fine of not less than $10 or more than $500 in addition to any other penalties prescribed herein. Each day of failure to comply or that such violation continues shall be deemed a separate offense.”
The business also can be ordered to cease operations “until such business obtains a license and pays all applicable delinquent fees and fines.”
In 2012, Childers initiated compiling a delinquent license list after several businesses were not in compliance as late as early summer in 2011. He said at that time that he wanted the city to establish a stricter policy in getting businesses to renew their licenses closer to the deadline.
Also this month, the board decided to amend another section of Chapter 13 of the city’s code. It deals with proration of business license fees.
Childers said past practice has been to prorate the $50 fee to coincide with the calendar year. That means that if a new business opens in April, only 75 percent of the $50 will be required to obtain the license.
The adjustment periods are quarterly, meaning businesses opening in July and October would be charged 50 and 25 percent of the annual fee, respectively.
“I was asked to put this on the agenda,” Childers said, adding that the city has prorated fees for years but there is no law that dictates that practice. “It seems a little odd to me to have a business come in halfway through the year and make them pay the full amount,” he said.
The measure passed unanimously.