Hamburger tax absconders could have licenses revoked under proposal

Hotel and hamburger tax absconders may find themselves in a pickle if the Pine Bluff City Council approves an Alderman Bill Brumett-sponsored enforcement proposal that is scheduled for a third and final reading at the panel’s Monday night meeting.

Brumett’s measure calls for the city collector to revoke or suspend business licenses if a firm fails to pay “any taxes as required by ordinance, penalties, interest, tax deposits, attorney’s fees, court costs fees, excise tax, occupational tax or other tax, license or fee licensee.”

But its chief aim is to better ensure payment to the city of hotel and hamburger tax revenues collected by local hotels, motels and restaurants.

There’s little problem with hotel or motel proprietors making timely deliveries of their customer tax assessments, but several restaurants and fast-food dealers are traditionally tardy with their turnovers. Brumett points out that the city is lacking an estimated $100,000 in undelivered hamburger tax collections, including roughly $60,000 owed by a single firm — Domino’s Pizza, which has two locations here.

Brumett’s measure states that whenever a firm is notified of an infraction, the operation’s business license may be revoked if the matter in question is not satisfied within 30 days. Once a license is revoked, any person or entity continuing to operate the business “shall be fined $500 for each day” the business continues to operate.

Also, whenever the renewal of a business license is requested, the applicant must present documentation from the city collector that all local taxes, fees and penalties have been paid. A renewal won’t be issued without a clearance letter from the collector.

Upon application for a renewal, all fines and court costs associated with violations of the proposed ordinance must be satisfied in full or up-t0-date in an approved, documented payment plan.

Violations of the measure would be considered misdemeanor offenses, and the police department or code enforcer would have the power to issue citations. The proposal also states that the city could file civil action to enjoin continued operation of an offending firm, and police “shall have the authority to suppress any business” continuing to function illegally.

The council is also slated to consider seven other ordinances and five resolutions.

Ordinances scheduled for second readings call for:

• Amending the current code of ordinances to add a new section on speed breakers or bumps.

• Authorizing city employees and officials to be reimbursed for gratuities added to meal charges when on city business.

Ordinances to receive initial readings call for:

• Adopting the 2012 edition of the International Existing Building Code for the zoning and inspection department’s guidance.

• Amending the current code of ordinances to modify the minimum age requirement for joining the fire department from 18 to 21. The measure contains an emergency clause.

• Adopting general revisements to the fire department’s policy, procedures and guidelines manual.

• Adopting a specific revisement to a section within the fire department’s policy, procedures and guidelines manual.

• Adopting a revision to the preface of the fire department’s policy, procedures and guidelines manual.

Proposed resolutions call for:

• Renaming the portion of Catalpa Street from Sixth to 13th Avenue as Saint DeWitt Hill Street.

• Appropriating $400,000 from the city’s operating reserve to the firemen’s pension and relief fund.

• Requesting the mayor to close city offices and give city employees a paid holiday on Dec. 31.

• Authorizing the mayor to execute a contract with JMJ Construction Inc. of Little Rock to build restroom facilities at Regional Park and Martin Luther King Jr. Park, and authorizing funds to pay for the work.

• A resolution by Alderwoman Irene Holcomb urging Arkansas’ congressional delegation to support an extension “in the middle class tax cuts” while endorsing an expiration of “tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent” and to “oppose cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.”

An administration committee meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m. The ordinances and resolutions and ways and means committees will meet at 5 p.m. The full council session starts at 5:30 p.m.