City can apply pressure to get funds

Published 12:01 am Thursday, September 13, 2012

Peer pressure is a phrase that often gets unfairly cast in a negative light because it’s usually used when referencing bad behavior among adolescents.

Peer pressure can be a good, even lucrative, thing when used appropriately and intelligently.

We encourage the City of Natchez to consider using a bit of peer pressure as it attempts to reign in poor enforcement of the city’s own business license fees.

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The city, led by Mayor Butch Brown, who seems to have the knack for sniffing out money owed to the city, has recently announced plans to try and locate all businesses within the city who are operating without a “privilege” license — and possibly not paying state sales tax, either. Both practices pull money from city and state coffers and are violations of the law.

Why not publish the list of businesses that are in compliance once a year as a public notice in the newspaper?

If the problem is rampant, it is, at least in part, the city’s own fault — late Wednesday, for example, the link to the privilege license application checklist on the city’s official website downloaded an entirely different form.

In addition, previous enforcement efforts seem non-existent, or at the least, rarely publicized.

Because of that, why not offer a 30-day amnesty period to encourage businesses to step forward and do the right thing?

After that, take it a step further, and offer a reward for residents who turn over the names of businesses operating without a license.

Most businesses will do the right thing, particularly when they know their peers are watching.

Much work remains to get the city in fully functioning order again, but getting the laws already on the books enforced again — particularly those that generate revenue — is a great start.