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Local

St. Charles committee in favor of costlier late alcohol tax penalties

ST. CHARLES – A city committee is in favor of bar owners facing heftier penalties for late alcohol tax payments.

The St. Charles Government Operations Committee on Monday voted 9-0 in favor of recommending an amendment to city ordinance to charge larger fines for late filing of alcohol taxes. The change would allow the city to charge a graduated flat rate penalty or a 5 percent penalty of the tax due, whichever is greater.

City staff wanted to change the penalty structure because staff members spend several hours each month chasing down bar owners for penalties as small as $10, according to a city memo.

Last month, the city’s assistant director of finance said the fines should be paid on time.

“There really is no reason for [the owners] to be one, two, three months behind,” said Julie Herr, assistant director of finance, on Feb. 18 during a Liquor Control Commission meeting. The commission unanimously approved bringing the amendment to committee.

Under the proposed amendment, a first-time offense would be $50, the second would cost $100 and the third and subsequent offenses would be $150. The city also would have the option each time to take the 5 percent penalty amount of the tax due if it is a larger amount.

St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina on Feb. 18 said he is on a mailing list that includes correspondence about the outstanding alcohol tax filings.

“My observation is that we have the same individuals over and over again [with late filings],” Rogina said.

Herr said it is normally the smaller establishments in town that struggle to make payments on time. The form for payments is relatively easy to fill out and not time intensive, Herr said.

The amendment for higher fines will go before the full St. Charles City Council on March 17 for final approval.

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