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Green Park businesses oppose licenses

Green Park business owners remain opposed to business licenses, according to Green Park Chamber of Commerce President Jim Smoot.

The Green Park Board of Aldermen is scheduled to discuss business licenses when it meets at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 20, at City Hall, 11137A S. Towne Square.

After learning that aldermen would discuss business licenses, Smoot, a long-time opponent of business licenses, faxed questionnaires to Green Park business owners seeking their position on the matter. Smoot said he received roughly 50 responses, all opposed to business licenses. Furthermore, "only'' 30 percent would compromise with the city over the issue if given the opportunity.

Smoot said he was "surprised at the extraordinarily high number" of people who would not compromise on the issue.

"I guess I'm not the only one who feels this way," Smoot said.

Smoot, who owns Fantasy Coachworks on South Lindbergh Boulevard, clarified his position on business licenses in a recent interview with the Call.

"First of all, the business community is not against business licenses in general, but what they don't like is to have duplication of business licenses or what would be considered unreasonable licenses," he said.

"This was an unincorporated area. St. Louis County has a $5 license fee for a merchant's license. Green Park incorporated. We all still have been paying our merchant's licenses. A lot of other businesses pay additional fees. Restaurants pay liquor licenses. Pharmaceutical companies ... pay separate licenses. Car dealers all have separate licenses. So we all have the state license fees and county license fees," he continued.

"Now Green Park comes along and says we're going to charge a business license fee and everybody wants to know why. That's the question why and so far we've heard all kinds of scenarios as to why they want a license fee. But the underlying tone is that they want more money and, quite frankly, the city has tons of money coming in from sales tax and capital-improvement tax,'' Smoot asserted. "So if somebody comes up and says: 'Hey, we just want more money.' We have to associate that with greed, I would have to say. I hate to be that blunt about it ... but why do you want to take more money from one group of people and pass it on to another group of people? I mean it makes no sense.''

Furthermore, Smoot contended that businesses would not receive anything in return if business licenses were approved.

"They're not coming up and saying; 'Hey, we're going to give the businesses trash service or we are going to repair streets that businesses are located on.' The majority of these businesses are on state highways; Tesson Ferry and Lindbergh.''

Mayor Steve Armstrong told the Call that city officials just are looking at the possibility of business licenses and have not taken a stance on the issue.

Smoot's opposition to business licenses dates back to 1996 when city officials first discussed the issue.

In 2000, when then-Mayor Richard George expressed his support for business licenses, City Hall received about 25 faxes from Green Park Business Association members opposing such licenses. Earlier this year, City Hall received 37 faxes from business association members opposed to business licenses.

The Green Park Business Association now is called the Green Park Chamber of Commerce.

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