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Some business owners tax city's patience

Zephyr liquor license protest advances to Assembly

Posted: March 28, 2013 - 7:41pm  |  Updated: March 29, 2013 - 12:13am

The City and Borough of Juneau Human Resources Committee met on March 27 to discuss city staff recommendation to protest the renewal of the firm Zephyr LLC’s Restaurant Liquor License. The state license is up for renewal for 2013-2014.

Zephyr is owned by Haydar Suyun. The city has also recommended protest of Suyun’s Sprazzo LLC restaurant. The two downtown eateries are on the hook several thousand dollars in back taxes.

Sprazzo is being protested for its lack of updated sprinkler system inspections and late taxes as of March 1, which total of $4951.60. Zephyr has an outstanding balance of more than $10,000 in property and sales tax, interest and penalties owed to the city.

Human Resource Committee Chair Jesse Kiehl said Suyun did not attend nor did he send a representative.

“We recommended protest,” Kiehl said in an email interview. “That will come up on the full assembly’s next agenda.”

Suyun was not immediately available for comment.

The CBJ Assembly is scheduled to hear the city’s protest request at its April 1 meeting. The next Alcohol Beverage Control Board meeting is scheduled for May 30.

Recently the City and Borough of Juneau has pursued several sizable tax delinquents. While the consequences of tax delinquency may be getting stricter — protests of liquor licenses, jail time — the practice is far from new in Juneau.

The city has cited recent high-profile legal cases as a possible cause for what so far is a slow year for delinquencies — 93 since January. In comparison, delinquent businesses totaled 600 over a three-month period in 2012.

This drop in numbers has not, however, resulted in a drop in total delinquent taxes owed. Unpaid taxes rose by more than $100,000 to between fiscal years 2010 and 2012. Unpaid taxes totaled $282,800 in 2012.

A Juneau Empire story from 2008 reported that at least 241 of Juneau's 3,700 registered businesses were delinquent in 2007 — about 7 percent — for a total of about $440,000.

The owners of Thane Ore House Salmon Bake were charged in February with failing to pay and remit city sales taxes. George Jefferson and Virginia Jefferson each face 26 counts of violating the City and Borough of Juneau’s uniform sales tax code. The CBJ is seeking a total of $35,643.55 in taxes, interest and fees for a three-year period ending in Sept., 2012, according to an affidavit filed by Assistant City Attorney August Petropulos.

PP’s Douglas Inn owner Patrick Peterson was recently sentenced to 80 days in jail for failing to pay $39,000 in city sales taxes over two and a half years.

Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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