SALEM - Two of the three Internet sweepstakes cafes in the city failed to pay the required $5,000 licensing fee put into place by city council last year, that is until they were notified Monday about paying the fee which should have been due last year at this time.
"It was something that slipped through the cracks," city Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst said Tuesday, noting the fee was never invoiced to the businesses for them to pay.
He explained that the businesses were supposed to pay a portion of the fee for 2011 after the ordinance creating the fee became law last fall, then pay the full $5,000 for 2012 before Jan. 1, 2012.
One Internet cafe had paid the fee on time for 2012, but Kenst and Salem Police Chief Robert Floor paid a visit to Olympian Treasures on Cunningham Road and the 777 Sweepstakes on Second Street in the Broadway Plaza Monday morning, advising employees that if the fee was not paid prior to opening on Tuesday, charges would be filed against the owner and all employees present.
Kenst said one of the businesses still owed for the partial year for 2011 and paid $6,200. The other business paid the $5,000. At this time, all three are in compliance with the licensing fee requirement.
When asked if the two businesses in question had to pay a penalty for being almost a year late in paying the fee, he said the ordinance did not provide for a penalty. Representatives of the businesses had attended a few of the meetings when the legislation was being considered last year.
Both Kenst and Mayor John Berlin came into office in January. Berlin had been on city council last year before being elected mayor. Berlin noticed the fee money wasn't in the budget when it was being prepared for next year and asked whether the fees had been paid.
According to Kenst, the three Internet sweepstakes cafes can expect to receive invoices this month for next year's fee, which is due by Jan. 1.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org