It sounded a lot like December 2013 at the Town Council meeting Monday night, when Council President Michael Isaacs said he was reluctant to close down restaurants with state tax problems during the holiday season. This year, there were three restaurants on that list: Bistro 9, Jade Garden, and Norman’s Tap.
But after representatives from each spoke with the council and said they were working with the state to resolve the issues, the Town Council voted 5-0 to let the establishments stay open until their next meeting Jan. 6.
Norman’s Tap resolved its issue with the state Dec. 17 and received a full renewal – the state had been unaware the bar/restaurant had been closed for several months and had been seeking payroll taxes.
The town renews liquor and victualing licenses every November. Last year, the town discovered some restaurants owed taxes going back years but because of a communication breakdown between departments, licenses had been renewed regardless of outstanding taxes.
The town clerk’s office deals with license renewals and the finance department deals with taxes.
Those businesses that owned back local or state taxes were given multiple extensions as they tried to get their financial affairs in order. In early 2014, Rok Bar and Norman’s both closed because they were unable to pay sizeable tax bills so the town could not renew their licenses.
After securing some financing and undertaking renovations, Norman’s reopened in November.
The state tax problem caught them off guard, Sharon Hazard, Norman Harris’s daughter and manager of the bar/restaurant, told the council Monday. By midweek, the state had issued Norman’s a certificate of good standing and the license was renewed.
For Bistro 9, one problem was with an unpaid $60 cigarette sales permit – but Bistro 9 doesn’t sell cigarettes, the council was told. Jade Garden had apparently paid up its state taxes on Monday, but state issuance of a certificate of good standing could take a week or more.
The council took votes on three identical motions – one for each business – granting extensions and approved each with a 5-0 vote. But Councilwoman Sue Cienki warned each of applicants.
“You do not want to come back here on Jan. 6 because it will not be pretty,” she said.
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