Coun­cil­man gets busi­ness li­cense, won’t be charged for past years

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­

Cov­ing­ton Coun­cil­man Keith Dal­ton re­ceived a valid home oc­cu­pa­tion li­cense for his long-run­ning jan­i­to­rial busi­ness Mon­day, a day af­ter The News ran a story show­ing he hadn’t had a valid lo­cal li­cense for years.

Dal­ton paid $50 to the city for his li­cense, which is the pro­rated share for a busi­ness that files af­ter July 1, and will not be charged retroac­tive fees or late fines, ac­cord­ing to city of­fi­cials.

No past charges

“Late fees or pay­ment of pre­vi­ous years were not charged as Mr. Dal­ton’s two busi­nesses were not previ- ously reg­is­tered with us.

While he may have op­er­ated the busi­nesses within the city lim­its for a num­ber of years we can only charge for the year(s) he has reg­is­tered with us and we have records for,” said Se­nior Plan­ner Scott Gaither in an email.

Orig­i­nally, when asked in the­ory, not about this par­tic­u­lar case, Gaither said he thought it might be pos­si­ble to charge fees for years a busi­ness did not have a li­cense, but he said Mon­day that would only ap­ply to a busi­ness that had at least reg­is­tered with the city at some point.

“For ex­am­ple, should some­one ob­tain and pay an oc­cu­pa­tion tax for 2010, how­ever, fail to pay for 2011 or 2012 and come to pay for 2013, we can de­rive that they have been in busi­ness for 2011 and 2012 with­out pay­ing.

There­fore we will re­quire pay­ment of 2011 and 2012, un­less they pro­vide doc­u­men­ta­tion that they were in fact closed or ceased op­er­a­tions for 2011 and 2012,” Gaither said.

Sim­i­larly, Dal­ton was not charged any late fee for 2013.

“No late fee was as­sessed as he just now ap­plied and paid his oc­cu­pa­tion tax. Late fees are as­sessed only on ex­ist­ing busi­nesses. Mr. Dal­ton did not have an ex­ist­ing busi­ness; there­fore no late fees were ap­plied,” Gaither said.

Dal­ton also re­cently re­ceived a

home oc­cu­pa­tion li­cense for his prop­erty man­age­ment busi­ness, Hat Creek Properties.

“As far as this of­fice is con­cerned Mr. Dal­ton is in com­pli­ance with the reg­u­la­tions for a home oc­cu­pa­tion based upon the in­for­ma­tion ob­tained through the ap­pli­ca­tions for the home oc­cu­pa­tions,” Gaither said. Park­ing will have to change

Un­der the terms of the home oc­cu­pa­tion li­cense, none of Dal­ton’s em­ploy­ees will be al­lowed to park at his house for work pur­poses, ac­cord­ing to city or­di­nances.

“Only ve­hi­cles used pri­mar­ily as pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles shall be per­mit­ted in con­nec­tion with the con­duct of the home oc­cu­pa­tion,” reads sec­tion “M” of the city’s home oc­cu­pa­tion code.

Neigh­bors’ com­plaints about the num­ber of ve­hi­cles parked daily in Dal­ton’s drive­way orig­i­nally led to The News in­quir­ing about Dal­ton’s busi­ness li­cense, as such park­ing wouldn’t be al­lowed un­der a home oc­cu­pa­tion li­cense.

In ad­di­tion, no more than 25 per­cent of the home may be used for a home busi­ness, un­der the city’s code. Clients won’t make change

Both So­cial Cir­cle City Schools and the New­ton County Li­brary Sys­tem will keep their ex­ist­ing con­tracts in place with Dal­ton’s busi­ness, Cov­ing­ton Win­dow Clean­ers.

The New­ton County Health Depart­ment did not re­ply to ques­tions about its pur­chas­ing poli­cies.

“It is So­cial Cir­cle City Schools’ ex­pec­ta­tion that each con­tracted busi­ness main­tain re­quired state and lo­cal li­censes,” said Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer Al­li­son Pit­tard in an email.

“The school sys­tem will con­tinue to ob­tain an­nual bids to en­sure the most cost-ef­fec­tive con­tracts are in place.”

So­cial Cir­cle City Schools have had a con­tract with Dal­ton since April 2009 and pay $27,758 monthly, while the New­ton li­brary sys­tem has had a con­tract since 2002.

The li­brary pays $3,144 a month for clean­ing at the Cov­ing­ton and Porter Me­mo­rial branches.

“Due to bud­get is­sues, all our con­tracted ser­vices are cur­rently un­der re­view,” Di­rec­tor Lace Keaton said in an email. “The Board (of Trus­tees) will con­tinue to closely mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion.” No com­ments from coun­cil

Dal­ton in­formed The News Mon­day he had all of his li­censes in or­der, but said he didn’t have any comment.

Coun­cil mem­bers and the mayor were asked by email if they had any thoughts on the sit­u­a­tion. Coun­cil mem­bers Janet Good­man and Chris Smith and Mayor Ron­nie John­ston de­clined to comment, while coun­cil mem­bers Ocie Franklin, Hawnethia Wil­liams and Mike What­ley did not re­spond. In­crease in ap­pli­ca­tions

Gaither said the city’s plan­ning and zon­ing depart­ment has seen an in- creased num­ber of peo­ple in­quir­ing about whether they need a home oc­cu­pa­tion or reg­u­lar busi­ness – tech­ni­cally called oc­cu­pa­tional tax per­mits – li­cense.

“I be­lieve the ar­ti­cle had an ed­u­ca­tional im­pact as to who may need an oc­cu­pa­tion tax,” Gaither said. “This Depart­ment’s stand­point is and will con­tinue to be, to help peo­ple get into com­pli­ance with our codes and not to pe­nal­ize them.”

If peo­ple be­lieve there are busi­nesses op­er­at­ing with­out valid lo­cal busi­ness li­censes, Gaither en­cour­aged them to “sub­mit an in­quiry or a com­plaint if they be­lieve some­one is in vi­o­la­tion of this or any city or­di­nance.

“Should we de­ter­mine a vi­o­la­tion is present, we will do what is in our au­thor­ity through the or­di­nances to gain com­pli­ance,” he said.

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