The Hall County Board of Commissioners discussed increasing code enforcement efforts in a number of areas at Monday morning’s work session.
Business License Director Susan Rector reported $250,000 of revenue from business licences has yet to be collected from Hall County businesses. She said many have not paid for licenses, have not renewed licences or are simply operating without a license, despite attempts to gain compliance.
“It’s getting worse,” Rector said. “It honestly has almost become a joke.”
The commissioners hope to use the newly created Public Safety Department to increase compliance and issue citations when necessary.
The Public Safety Department, directed by Marty Nix, houses code enforcement, animal control and park ranger divisions to improve efficiency in those areas.
“Once we give this to code enforcement, in most cases, we’re going to give them 10 days to two weeks to come in compliance,” before writing a ticket, Rector said.
The commission also discussed the newly revamped penalties for businesses that sell alcohol to minors.
The new code sets out specific suspension times for the first, second and third offenses and strongly encourages education about checking IDs for all employees.
Previously, penalties for selling alcohol to minors were at the discretion of the commission.
The new code, which will be voted on at the commission’s Thursday board meeting, sets uniform punishments for those who repeatedly sell alcohol to minors.
On a second offense, the new code would allow the commission to suspend an alcoholic beverage license for no less than 30 days or revoke the license based on the severity of the offense.
A second violation within one year of the first violation will result in a 90 day suspension, though license-holders who can prove they are educating employees to prevent underage sales may receive a less severe punishment.
“It’s in your best interest to go ahead and get a program,” said Commissioner Ashley Bell.
Fines of up to $250 could also be issued for someone who does not check an ID before selling alcohol, regardless of apparent age.
The county would also require a valid U.S. ID to purchase alcohol.
This is currently state law and Bell said a high number of foreign IDs in his district are being used to purchase alcohol, which can be difficult for employees to interpret.
“That gives us an enforcement mechanism,” Bell said.