Business owners who neglected to renew their annual license with the village in April are now lining up to avoid being hit with a bigger registration fee. Beginning on Friday, June 1, an ordinance adopted by the village council earlier this year takes effect and smacks tardy registrants with a 100 percent increase in their usual fee.
Every business owner in Forest Park must renew their annual license with the village by April 30. Failing to do so could result in a fine of $750 for every day that their license is expired, however, village officials said sympathetic judges made it difficult to collect on those penalties once the matter was taken to court. By increasing the licensing fee for tardy renewals, which is separate from any penalties, the village is able to leverage the steeper fee schedule as an incentive for on-time renewals.
“It’s to make it fair to the majority of the businesses who do pay on time,” Village Administrator Mike Sturino said earlier this month.
Business owners who neglect to pay by July 1 will see their fee triple.
Of the 397 renewal notices sent prior to April 30, Village Clerk Vanessa Moritz said 116 businesses missed the deadline. Those companies received notice in the mail this month that unless they renewed their license by the end of May, their fee would double. With one week to go before the June 1 deadline, 58 of those entrepreneurs had cut a check for their 2007 registration, Moritz said.
“We had a great response from our reminder letters,” Moritz said. “With one of the ones who paid, typically it would be six months” before they renewed their license.
The majority of entrepreneurs pay an annual fee of $100 for their license, though the exact amount varies according to the nature of the business.
If members of the business community are unhappy with the new fee schedule, they aren’t making much of a fuss. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Laurie Kokenes said she hasn’t heard from a single business owner one way or the other. She noted, however, that when she received written notice of the changes at her own company, she immediately cut a check for her license.
“I suspect they needed to do that to make people pay attention,” Kokenes said.
Tonya Hart, a Madison Street entrepreneur active in the Main Street Redevelopment Association and M2, also said there is little word on the street regarding the fees.
“I haven’t heard a peep about it from anyone,” Hart said.