Council mulls how to handle unpaid business licenses

Published 6:45 pm Thursday, March 20, 2014

The numbers are better but 76 Demopolis businesses still haven’t bought a business license this year.

For the second consecutive meeting, the Demopolis City Council discussed how to handle unpaid licenses. At the council’s last meeting two weeks ago, 113 licenses were past due.

Mayor Mike Grayson said he has spoken with the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce and Demopolis Business Council and both organizations support the city’s effort to “get everybody on the same page and impose fair, equitable and consistent requirements.”

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“Everyone needs to have a business license,” Grayson said.

While licenses are due Dec. 31, the city gives businesses a grace period until Jan. 31 to pay. Penalties and interest start accruing Feb. 1.

However, once a business hits the maximum 30-percent penalty March 1, there is no additional incentive to pay up, Grayson said.

“There is no closure … In essence, you can have someone ride the system as long as we will allow them to,” Grayson said.

To handle this year’s stragglers, the council passed a motion giving businesses until March 31 to buy a license.

On Tuesday, April 1, the city’s code enforcement officer will serve notice to those who haven’t paid, giving them three final days to get the license. Anybody that hasn’t paid by Friday, April 4 will be summoned to municipal court.

Grayson also asked the council to consider in the coming weeks what deadlines and penalties would be appropriate for next year.

In other business, the council took the following actions:

•Gave Morgan Allen with the Demopolis Public Library permission to apply for a federal grant for iPads. The grant would require a $1,875, or 25 percent, local match. If awarded the grant, the library would buy 12 iPads, eight for the children’s library and four for adults to use.

•Held a 15-minute executive session to discuss a financial matter. The council adjourned following the executive session.