Business owners delinquent on licenses - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Business owners delinquent on licenses

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May 25, 2005

Albany- Hundreds of Albany businesses are operating illegally, because they haven't renewed their business licenses. They expired on January 1st, and as of today, there are nearly 700 businesses that still haven't renewed.

But city leaders say they are cracking down on those who won't pay up.

Richard King's Maryland Fried Chicken restaurant is known for it's flashy decor, and now King's glad it will be known as a business operating within the law.

"It was over $700 I think," King said. "It's quite a bit. I remember when it used to be $75, but that's a big chunk for a small business."

He's happy to have a day away from the office, but isn't happy about finding out that nearly 700 of his peers have not paid their license fees. "I want to know how they do it. I want them to teach me how they get by with it, because that's a lot of money, and if you don't have to pay that's a big benefit for a business, and it's not fair for the ones that do have to pay," says King.

And city officials say it's not fair to taxpayers. The minimum license fee is $100 "It goes into the city coffers. It's anticipated. It's expected and our city and communities suffer when a licensee or business doesn't pay it's license," said Asst. City Manager Kevin Hogencamp.

Just two weeks ago, city commissioners were shocked to find out that there were more than 1,000 businesses on the non-renewal list. "Some of these are probably deceased, some are probably out of business and some are probably negligent," says City Commissioner Tommie Postell.

So negligent that licenses have been expired for at least five months. The city does offer a 90 day grace period, but this year they've added an extra incentive to get owners to pay. "This year we expect to have much better results than we have had historically because of the penalties," said Hogencamp.

Anyone renewing after March 15th will have to pay interest 1.5% each month they are late and after 90 days 10% of the entire license fee will be tacked on. "We are not trying to shut them down. We are trying to let them know that they are negligent, or they have omitted their responsibility and we cannot allow them to operate in that mode because it's against the law," said Postell.

"In talking to Chief Boren they have been working on this, but he feels that with his staff they don't have enough people to crack down on it the way it should be," said Postell.

But city officials say that may soon change and are warning business owners now that if they want to keep their doors open and stay legal, they need to make sure they pay what they owe.

Businesses outside the city limits are not subject to the late fees. The county has not passed an ordinance that fines business who are late renewing their licenses.

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