Several weeks after City Attorney Kurt Voss sent a letter to dozens of business owners who had not obtained or renewed their 2012 operating license in St. Clair, only one remains in violation.

Voss sent the letter in late February giving the business owners 30 days to comply with the local law or face potential legal action.

The letter was drafted and sent after City Administrator Rick Childers told the board of aldermen in February that 64 businesses had not obtained their license by the Jan. 31 deadline. The board then told Voss to draft the letter, send it and deal with those who still refuse to renew the license.

The letter was sent to 36 business owners who still had not paid their $50 business license fee by Feb. 20.

City Collector Lynne Huff said since the original list of 64 businesses was provided to the aldermen during their Feb. 6 meeting and a story about the situation was published in the St. Clair Missourian shortly thereafter, 28 individuals took care of their delinquent licenses before Voss’ letter was sent. Another 35 businesses have paid their fees since the attorney’s letter was sent, Huff said earlier this week, leaving the one businesses in noncompliance.

According to collector’s office information from this week, that one business is AFI Muffler, 342 S. Commercial Ave.

The city’s board of aldermen would have to decide whether any legal action would be taken or penalties assessed against the business.

In recent weeks, Huff said, the fees to obtain the annual business licenses have been trickling into the collector’s office. Most of those payments arrived in February and last month before the March 22 deadline.

Childers initiated compiling the 2012 list in early February after several businesses were not in compliance as late as early summer a year ago. He said that he believes if no action is taken at this time of the year and if the city waits until later like it has previously, “we’ll continue to have about the same list.”

Childers told aldermen in February he did not want to be as lenient this year in regards to the grace period for business owners who are delinquent in obtaining their annual operating licenses.

Last Year

In May 2011, Childers told the aldermen that 15 businesses within the city limits at that time were delinquent in renewing their business licenses for the year. He said if those businesses were not in compliance by the end of that month, legal action could be pursued.

No action had to be taken after Voss sent a similar letter at that time to what was sent in February.

City Ordinance

According to Chapter 13, Section 8, in the city’s code of ordinances, business owners are supposed to renew their operating licenses annually by Jan. 31. Penalties for not doing so can range from a late payment fee of 10 percent for each month the business operates with no license to the business being forced to close its doors.

“Any person, firm, company or corporation who shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of 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 therein,” a portion of that ordinance reads. “Each day of failure to comply or that such violation continues shall be deemed a separate offense.”

The ordinance also states that the city can pursue the legal action that includes a “personal judgment against the violator.”

Finally, the ordinance reads that an order can be issued against the violators “requiring the business which is in noncompliance or violation of this chapter to suspend its operations until such business obtains a license and pays all applicable and delinquent fees.”