F’ville to look at business taxes, trespass violations

The Fayetteville City Council at its Jan. 6 meeting will consider a state initiative designed to have the state and cities work together to collect all business tax that are due. The council will also hear the first reading of an ordinance that will put trespassing violations under city court jurisdiction.

City staff are recommending that Fayetteville participate in an initiative by the Georgia Dept. of Revenue (DOR) and the Georgia Municipal Association aimed at collecting all the sales tax due state and local governments.

The council will consider joining the DOR Sales Tax Compliance Program that encourages cities to share their business occupational tax records with DOR.

City Clerk Anne Barnard said that, if approved, DOR will compare the city’s occupational tax records with the state’s sales tax records to determine if discrepancies exist. Businesses that do not appear on sales tax records will be investigated, Barnard said.

GMA’s goal is to get as many cities as possible to pass the resolution and participate in the program, Barnard said. Fayetteville Mayor Ken Steele is the president of GMA.

Council members Thursday will also hear the first reading of the proposed Unauthorized Entry Ordinance.

The intent of the ordinance is to assist officers in addressing trespassing on private property and to provide for city charges processed in city court rather than the customary state charges that require the offender to be processed in state court, said Police Chief Steve Heaton. The first offense for trespassing, whether under state law or city ordinance, is a warning, Heaton added.

“There is a state law that addresses criminal trespass, however, when arresting someone for criminal trespass the officer has to apply for a warrant through the Magistrate’s Office. In many cases, the officer must make that application when he/she is off duty. The department pays overtime in those circumstances. The arrest also is placed on the person’s criminal record,” Heaton said.

Heaton said many of the criminal trespass incident reported to police involve juveniles. If approved, the ordinance would allow officers to address trespassing issues with a less formal procedure that will not show up on a person’s criminal history and will reduce the amount of overtime paid to officers.

The proposed ordinance states that, “It shall be unlawful for any person to enter upon the land or premises of another person or into any part of any vehicle, railroad car, aircraft, or watercraft of another person after receiving, prior to such entry, written notice from the city police department that such entry is forbidden.”

Also at the meeting, Heaton is recommending that the Food Mart at 438 South Glynn Street have its alcohol license placed on probation for six months and be subject to a $500 fine as a result of a guilty plea in city court in October for selling alcohol without a permit and for the employee on duty not having an alcohol permit on his person.

Heaton said on Oct. 20, the police department conducted an investigation of an alcohol complaint at Food Mart. As a result of that investigation an employee, Fayaz Abdulla, was charged with selling alcohol without a permit and not having an alcohol permit on his person, Heaton said. On Dec. 8 Abdulla pled guilty to both charges in city court and was fined a total of $304, Heaton added.

Heaton said that, per city ordinance, the licensee of the business, Munira Samnani, is responsible for insuring that employees are in compliance with the alcohol permit requirements. Heaton recommended that the licensee have his alcohol license placed on probation for six months and receive a $500 fine.

Heaton said the recommendation is consistent with what he had suggested in the past for similar offenses.