River Falls residents want businesses to pay back fees

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, January 9, 2013

“What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander,” a River Falls citizen said about requiring businesses to pay past due business licenses fees to the town.

The discussion began during the public comment session of Tuesday’s meeting when a resident, who didn’t wish to be named, read a statement that said residents felt that if they were required to pay their water bill arrearages, businesses should be made to the same.

“I understand two council members have businesses here,” the woman said, speaking of Mayor Patricia Gunter and councilman Gary Wages. Gunter and her husband own an auto repair shop, while Wages operates Wages Market. “I’m not saying go after the vendors who supply the stores. I’m saying the business owners.

“To me, that’s justice; to me that’s fair,” she said.

While the town has a business license ordinance on record that established fees, it was not enforced because residents said former mayor Mary Hixon waived the fees “about eight to 10 years ago;” however, no record of any official council action regarding waiving the fees could be found.

Hixon resigned from office last year after pleading guilty to stealing $201,000 in town funds.

Since then, the town voted to uphold and enforce the ordinance on file.

Gunter, who said she and her husband paid three years of back licenses, said she would seek legal advice to determine if the council could bill businesses for previous years.

“I’ll have an answer by the next meeting,” she said.

Gunter said RDS, the company hired to perform tax and license collections, will soon begin mailing out letters to River Falls business owners for their 2013 licenses.

In other business, the council voted to hire Kyle Adams as a part-time police officer.