Independence business license inspectors hit the streets, seeking to recover $67k in unpaid fees

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- The city of Independence is owed tens of thousands of dollars.

City business license compliance officers are hitting the streets, going door-to-door in effort to collect that revenue. Those dollars come from unpaid license fees by many of the city's 9,000 businesses.

For the first time, business license compliance officers Roman Davis and Angela Miller are on the road, stopping at the 900 local businesses who, for whatever reason, haven't renewed their license to operate.

A city spokesperson told FOX 4 that 10 percent of Independence's businesses are delinquent in paying their annual fees. Those fees for a license begin at $75, going up from there based on the business' gross sales.

"The biggest surprise is how fast people have been to respond," Davis said. "You're looking at a minimum fee of $67,000 that the city can capture and use."

Davis and Miller sympathize with business operators. They said it's often an innocent oversight made by busy people.

"It takes a lot to run a business. As they're focused on running their business, this is one of the things they forget," Davis said.

City officers also use similar visits to inspect liquor licenses and potential health code violations.

"We want to come in, shake their hand and put a face to a name," Miller said. "If they call us, they know exactly who they're talking to and work with them in all aspects. Make sure their employees have their liquor permits and everything that works together."

The majority of Independence businesses are in good standing. That includes Luck Duck's Sew and Mow, which sits in the historic Englewood Arts District.

Owner Rebecca Aragon said she paid her city license fees in March, and she recognizes the business operator's responsibility to support the city by paying these fees on time.

"Here's what I use from the city. Sidewalks, number one. I have parking out there the city pays for. Part of our community taxes go toward all of the infrastructure -- not just in my building, but right outside my building -- which is important for customers to get in and get out," Aragon said.

City officers said this isn't merely a crackdown. Davis and Miller said its important to build relationships with these business owners. As they meet, discussions about city services happen, allowing the officers to hear what the businesses need in return.

Tom Scannell, the city's director of community development, said these new sweeps will take place once a month.



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