Cape Girardeau City Council gives first-round approval to new business license ordinance

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Cape Girardeau City Council on Monday night took the first step to make sure that city taxes, fees and utility bills are paid before it issues a business or liquor license.

In a unanimous vote, the council gave first-round approval to an ordinance requiring anyone applying for a new or renewed license to submit far more information than is currently required about their business interests and associations.

The ordinance, if given final approval May 1, would take effect in time for the next round of city liquor license renewals that must be completed by July 1.

Under the proposal, business owners would be required to name all owners of 20 percent or more of a business applying for a liquor or business operating license. In addition, those named would have to provide information about any other businesses in which they have a stake of 20 percent or more.

Under current city law, no liquor license may be issued until all taxes or fees owed to the city are paid. And no business license may be issued without payment of the required fees.

"I want to commend the staff for their work on this ordinance," Ward 3 Councilwoman Debra Tracy said during the council's regular meeting. "It brings a good balance. It seems to be fair and reasonable."

The ordinance does give the city some discretion to allow a business that has recently fallen on hard times a chance to catch up, city manager Scott Meyer said during the council study session.

"But when you have someone who is repeatedly changing their business, that is a different thing," he said.

The ordinance addresses the ease with which people can form new companies that seem to have no tax or other liabilities that would prevent the city from issuing a license, Ward 5 Councilman Mark Lanzotti said. He noted that had happened several times and the city could do nothing, but did not name any particular business owner.

"This is a more modern version to address this issue with consideration for the fact that if you do fall on hard times we have provisions for that," Lanzotti said. "This will curtail what some consider abuse."

rkeller@semissourian.com

388-3642

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

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