The following was recently e-mailed to Mr. Michael McMillan:
Please forward this e-mail to Mr. Michael McMillan, License Collector, City of St. Louis
Dear Mr. McMillan:
On Friday, Dec. 11, 2009 an article titled “Soulard: The Tax Haven Revisited” was posted on a blog labeled Gumbo, the Forum for Soulard at http://gumbotheforumforsoulard.blogspot.com/. The article contained information about bar/restaurants in the Soulard neighborhood whose property taxes are in arrears or were paid after the deadline. (Please note that this letter is also posted on the blog.)
My understanding is that businesses cannot open their doors and do business unless they have been granted a business license. I understand a business license cannot be issued if the business owes any taxes. Are these understandings correct, or have I misread the laws and ordinances of the City of St. Louis?
I have been approached by several business owners who have paid all their relevant taxes. They want to know why businesses which have not been good citizens - those which have not paid all their taxes - are being subsidized by those who have. They believe an unfair competitive advantage has been created. At what point is a business which has a defective business license - one which does not meet the requirements as defined by laws and ordinances of the City of St. Louis - going to be closed? Are the business licensing laws something to be taken casually here in St. Louis, by both elected officials and businesses?
There are some people in Soulard who feel that there are too many bars/restaurants in the neighborhood. They feel that the large number of these establishments contribute to quality of life problems. Examples of these quality of life issues include increased crime, trash, noise, traffic accidents, vandalism, and others. That some of these establishments remain open when it appears that they have defective licenses suggests favoritism and corruption in City of St. Louis government. They are expected to pay their taxes, their parking tickets, etc., etc., but bars/restaurants which degrade the living experience in the neighborhood seem to get a free pass. Could you please address this concept? Is there any concern by you that residents think favoritism and corruption is an ingredient in St. Louis city government?
I am most interested in hearing from you so that your responses can be published on the blog in order to set the record straight and to calm the fears and anger of some of my fellow citizens. Thank you in advance for your time.
ADDENDUM: The following was attached to the above message and re-sent to The Honorable Michael McMillan on January 4:
Dear Michael McMillan, License Collector, City of St. Louis
This is the second e-mail I have sent you. The first was sent on Dec. 17 to the e-mail address email@example.com, as directed by your page on the CIN/St. Louis web site. The e-mail seeks information about irregular business licenses in Soulard, as per a story published on the Soulard blog on Friday, Dec. 11, 2009 and titled Soulard: The Tax Haven Revisited. I have not received any answer from you. You may not have been able to find the story due to an error in the blog address. My apologies for the mistake. Thus, I am re-sending the first e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, a different address. I look forward to hearing from you.