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Oakwood gets tougher on businesses failing to pay city taxes on time
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OAKWOOD — Oakwood is putting some teeth in an ordinance governing business taxes.

City Council voted Monday night on first reading to penalize businesses that fail to pay taxes and fees by Feb. 15 each year.

Delinquent businesses must pay an extra 10 percent of the fees and taxes they owe, or at least $25. They must pay an additional $100 if they don’t pay up by April 1, plus 1 percent of fees and taxes each month after May 1.

City Attorney Donnie Hunt said the charges basically give businesses six months to square up their debt with the city. The aim is to enforce the ordinance without being too "heavy-handed" on businesses and driving them away.

City Councilman Ron McFarland said the city shouldn’t be too lenient, however.

"I say that by June 1, we issue a cease-and-desist order (on delinquent businesses)," he said.

Council members said they were especially concerned about businesses in food and personal care industries not keeping their businesses’ taxes current.

In other business, city council voted to delay a vote to contract with Gary’s Grading and Pipeline Co. to install a force main sewer line along Winder Highway to Jackson County, connecting with the Braselton sewer system.

"I am concerned about the time frame and (Gary’s Grading’s) ability to finish the project in a timely manner," Councilman Gary Anderson said.

Gary’s Grading is about 30 percent complete with Thurmon Tanner Parkway, a four-lane connector between Plainview and Mundy Mill roads, officials said.

"It’s not going to be finished by December," said Mayor Lamar Scroggs, citing a winter filled with wet weather and frigid temperatures. "I don’t see how they can (be finished)."

In competitive bidding on the sewer project, Gary’s Grading put its costs at nearly $2.1 million.

Work already is under way on a $1.1 million pump station on Martin Road, off Winder Highway, as part of the project. Officials have said that work could be finished in October.

The initiative with Braselton began in 2006, with Oakwood getting under an agreement as much as 2.5 million gallons of sewer per day from Braselton.

Oakwood already has bought 50,000 gallons of capacity from Braselton, "basically to deal with customers we’re bringing on line right now," City Manager Stan Brown has said.