BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Holidays are big money making opportunities for most local businesses. Accordingly, there will undoubtedly be plenty of booze sold leading up to the July 4 weekend.
However, a large number of businesses in East Baton Rouge Parish may not be celebrating.
Around 93 business had their liquor licenses pulled by the Alcohol Beverage Control Friday, June 14 after the Metropolitan council passed a new ordinance.
“Council passed an ordinance that the mayor put on the agenda to obviously crack down on businesses that aren’t paying [and] remitting their sales tax, paying their occupancy permit fees, and any other kinda fees,” said Matt Watson, the Metro Councilman serving East Baton Rouge Parish District 11. “So if they’re out of compliance in any way you can go and shut the business down or go and pull their liquor permit.”
The liquor licenses were revoked from businesses that were 90 days or more late on remittance. Watson says the notices of late payment were sent by non-certified mail in February.
To better explain the issues that may have led to the licenses being pulled, Watson put the offenders into three categories.
“There’s people who have done everything right and there was a clerical error. Then there are some people who are really trying to game the system and make an extra 10 percent profit by not doing the right thing like they’re supposed to. Then there’s people stuck in the middle,” Watson said.
Only the number of licenses, but not the list of businesses, has been made public.
But those businesses are not the only ones that took a beating. The state did not get to collect those taxes on the high-producing weekend, and neither did the municipality or the school board. Watson says he’s all for enforcement of the ordinance, but not so much the timing of it.
“The problem is if you ran a business and you had someone come in and take your liquor license down at 4 p.m. on a Friday, you can’t go fix anything until Monday morning. So, that Friday target of going out and hitting folks made people lose that whole weekends worth of business.”
This is the first year that liquor licenses have been tied to sales tax.