Council OKs parking ban, tax changes

By Paul Wagner

Amendments to the city’s sales tax ordinance and an ordinance to ban parking on two streets near NIU were approved last night by the DeKalb City Council.

The changes in the sales tax ordinance will change the penalties imposed for retailers who fail to file a tax return from a two-step system to a graduated system.

Before amended, the ordinance called for a fine of at least $75 for the first offense and not less than $1,000 for the second offense.

Under the approved changes, the penalties will be on a graduated system of not less than $75 for the first offense, $150 for the second offense, $300 for the third offense and $1,000 for the fourth and subsequent offenses.

City Manager Mark Stevens said the reason for the changes is the “likelihood of obtaining higher fines from the judges.”

The amendments also state paying taxes late is not a defense for failure to file or pay sales taxes. City Attorney Ron Matekaitis said retailers are sent notification after a “grace period” of 15 days after the tax is due. The notification informs retailers that the city will prosecute if the tax is not paid within 21 days, he said.

“There have been occasional prosecutions for failure to file (sales tax returns),” Matekaitis said, but he did not give a specific number. “More often than not when it (prosecution) reaches court the retailer has paid,” he said.

The newly amended ordinance will mean retailers will be given “the knowledge they have to pay (taxes) on time and let them (retailers) know if they pay after the deadline it is not a defense,” Matekaitis said.

In other business, the council approved an ordinance banning parking on Park Avenue and Thornbrook Drive located east of the NIU campus.

The council approved at its Sept. 14 meeting an ordinance banning parking on one side of the streets between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. The ordinance approved at last night’s meeting bans parking on both sides Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sixth Ward Alderman Steven Brody said he favored the ordinance passed two weeks ago. “The critical problem of emergency vehicles (having access to the two streets) has been solved. What we (council) did two weeks ago … was a workable solution for the time being,” he said.

Fifth Ward Alderman Bessie Chronopoulos, who represents the residents of Park and Thornbrook, said the ban on parking was needed because the two streets were “an unusual and unique problem.”