Under a new policy recently approved by the village council, the month of May essentially serves as a grace period for proprietors who failed to renew their business license by April 30. Once the calendar skips into the summer months though, business owners can expect to pay double or even triple what they would have had they renewed their license on time.
Village Clerk Vanessa Moritz said there isn’t an over abundance of rogue business owners ignoring the annual deadline to renew their license, but those who are tardy seem to have no fear of retribution. Of the 397 renewal notices sent to store owners, insurance salespeople, restaurateurs and anyone else doing business in Forest Park, about one-quarter do not meet the deadline. Her office will mail notices reminding those entrepreneurs of their obligation, sometimes for months, Moritz said, before the case goes before a judge.
“Two people last year never ever paid,” Moritz said.
The new provisions in the ordinance allow the village to double the licensing fee after June 1, and if the business owner is still delinquent on July 1, the fee triples.
“It’s to make it fair to the majority of the businesses who do pay on time,” Village Administrator Mike Sturino said.
One group of business owners that’s known for being on time with its renewal are those who hold liquor licenses, Moritz said. In order to obtain their state liquor license, business owners need to carry a valid municipal license.
Though licensing fees vary from business to business, the majority of the village’s entrepreneurs pay $100, Moritz said.
According to the village’s ordinances, business owners can be fined $750 for every day their license is expired. A “general penalty” clause in the codes says that any violation of the business licensing ordinance is subject to the fine. The steeper licensing fee will be imposed in addition to the general penalty.
Executive Director of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce Laurie Kokenes said she was unaware of the penalties businesses could face for failing to renew their license on time. Never, she said, has a business owner griped about the fines or asked the chamber to take a position on the ordinance.
“I have not heard of this, ever,” Kokenes said. “No one ever complained about it at all.”
An entrepreneur herself, Kokenes said it’s understandable that small business owners might miss an occasional deadline. As for the chamber’s position on the new policy, Kokenes said she would first need to consult with members of the organization.
“I’ve been late myself on things,” Kokenes said.
Often times if the village needs to take a business owner to court and force them to purchase a license, the judge will waive whatever fines may have been imposed, Sturino said. Village Attorney Mike Durkin said that by increasing the fee itself, delinquent proprietors will not be able to avoid at least some penalty.