The high number of businesses who have not renewed their business licenses was discussed Monday night at the city personnel, finance and public works committee meeting.
A total of 15 businesses in the city limits have not renewed their licenses, according to Joseph Graves, director of community development. He presented a list of companies to the committee.
Renewal papers were due by April 30. Graves stressed that 15 is much lower than in years past.
Of the 15, two businesses have not renewed because of environmental issues, Graves said, and both are in litigation.
An additional four have not renewed because they haven’t turned in a sales tax certificate, he said, while another didn’t provide insurance papers and another filed for a conditional use permit for a change in zoning.
Graves said renewal papers were sent out in March and businesses are only required to sign the paper and send in a $30 fee. After April 30, an additional $20 is charged.
Several aldermen suggested that a $20 late fee “doesn’t have enough bite” for those businesses not renewing their licenses.
The businesses have received at least four notices as well as one or more phone calls. The next step, Graves said, is to send an officer to the business to remind them to renew their license.
After that, the officer will issue a summons to the business for operating without a license.
Alderman questioned the use of city officers visiting the businesses when business owners know they need to renew their license.
“They know it’s due. I don’t think we need to waste an officer’s time knocking on doors,” said Alderman Karen Erwin. “They’re all adults. It’s not like we’re dealing with daycares here.”
Graves recommended giving businesses until Monday, July 9, to complete their paperwork.
Erwin suggested a more efficient system be implemented next year with more stringent deadlines and bigger consequences for not renewing a license.
“They can be charged up to $500 per day for operating their business without a license,” Graves said.
Police Chief Norman Brune noted that there would have to be a separate summons for each day they did not renew their license.
“We have to establish that they are doing business,” he said. “If they are, we go there and write a summons for doing business without a license.”
If there is a court date, the business also would be responsible for court costs.
Alderman Vicki Jo Hooper suggested adding a final date before summons are issued.
“I realize they have a ‘drop dead’ date, but obviously they’re ignoring it,” she said.
Graves noted that there are about 660 businesses and less than 2 percent have not yet renewed.
The list will be revisited next week and further action will be discussed.