Late fees waived for businesses in Grosse Pointe Woods

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published March 20, 2021

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GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Grosse Pointe Woods businesses who did not pay for their business licenses in 2020 won’t be penalized with a late fee.

At the March 1 Grosse Pointe Woods City Council meeting, the council approved 6-0 waiving the $100 late fee accrued to businesses that did not renew their business licenses for 2020. The matter was not an agenda item but was brought up during the new business portion of the meeting.

A memorandum based on the issue between City Clerk Lisa Kay Hathaway and City Administrator Bruce Smith was distributed the afternoon of March 1 before the council meeting. Hathaway requested the 2020 business license late fees be eliminated. According to Hathaway, there are 29 businesses “in arrears for their 2020 business license.” The regular cost of a business license is $100.

“After the April 1 deadline, it doubles,” Hathaway said. “According to the ordinance, I am required to charge an additional $100, that being $200, for any business that comes in with their business license and their fee after April 1.

“What I’m proposing is that if a business comes in ... and renews their business license for 2021 timely, that we eliminate the late fee for 2020,” Hathaway said. “And also provide an extension for about six months allowing the business time to catch up that $100 for their 2020 business license making them whole again. For a total of $2,900, there’s a possibility of the city exempting late fees for business licenses. This is resulting from COVID, things shutting down, being on hold. This is out of about 287 businesses that we have these few.”

The idea is to encourage businesses to renew their 2021 licenses by April 1, and they’ll get an extension until Oct. 1 to pay the 2020 fee. The business licenses are due April 1; the invoices are mailed out at the end of February.

While he agreed to waive the fees, Council member Ken Gafa shared “a secondary issue” on the matter.

“If we waive late fees for 2020, then we’ve disenfranchised businesses that maintained their business license,” he said. “They’re going to say, ‘Well, those 29 didn’t have to pay. Why would I have paid if I knew you were just going to waive these fees?’ We have to be careful of that because that’s the wrong message that we’re sending out. I tend to agree with what Lisa put down here on paper with Bruce’s recommendation. I think it’s fair, and I think it’s equitable.”

Schulte said Christine Court will be worked on first. At this time, city officials aren’t sure what area will be worked on second in the project. Residents will be notified ahead of time when the projects on their streets will begin. Residents will have water during the projects. City officials expect the project to begin in mid-April and finish up in June.

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