Drastic fee increases for tobacco retailers within the city
Editor’s note: This letter was sent before the particulars were known to the general public, including Kelley Williamson.
Dec. 3, 2012
The Honorable Mayor Lawrence J. Morrissey
City of Rockford, Illinois
425 E. State St., 8th Floor
Rockford, IL 61104
Dear Mayor Morrissey:
I am writing today to express concerns over some information my staff members have received regarding drastic fee increases for the annual licenses required for tobacco retailers within the City of Rockford.
Based on what my staff has been told following a call to City Hall, Tobacco Permit responsibilities have recently been transferred to the City Legal Department and fees are increasing from $145 annually to a minimum of $1,800 annually, coupled with a recently instituted one-time application fee for new licensees of $5,000.
I am, as of this writing, unable to even begin to fathom that this information is correct. The jump from $145 to $1,800 annually represents over an 1,141 percent increase — over ONE THOUSAND PERCENT, plus a one-time $5,000 fee for new licensees? With the 13 stores that the Kelley Williamson Company presently operates within the city of Rockford, that represents an annual increase of $21,515! Furthermore, I am discouraged with the fact that we learned of this astronomical increase purely by chance, when my administrative staff happened to call regarding permitting for our underground storage tanks. Can you please tell me why local business owners have not yet been afforded the professional courtesy to be advised of this increase, nor given appropriate time to prepare for such a financial hit?
As a local businessman and lifelong member of this community, I am tremendously disappointed that it appears the interests of my company and other tobacco-selling businesses in this area have been completely disregarded in this manner. I cannot even begin to imagine what these pricing increases will do to the livelihood of local business owners who do so much for our community and those who live and work here. Why were we never even given the chance to discuss this in an open forum with our city government? It seems downright dishonest that this entire radical permitting process change was handled so covertly. My heart truly goes out to the other honest, diligent tobacco resellers in our community who are completely and totally unaware of what is about to hit them when the new year rolls around.
Additional dialogue with one of the City Aldermen did nothing more than cause additional frustration, when we learned that this process apparently began last May. I am dumbfounded as to how this entire process could have gone from start to finish in seemingly one fell swoop without the slightest professional courtesy from those who run our city government and supposedly have all of our best interests at heart.
I would appreciate an immediate response, Mr. Mayor, regarding the justification for this fee increase, and welcome any feedback from any members of the City Council, those very people who have committed themselves to look out for the well-being of all citizens, business owners, taxpayers and the like.
John C. Griffin
President & CEO
Kelley Williamson Company
Cc: Tim Durkee, 1st Ward Alderman
Patrick Curran, 2nd Ward Alderman
Douglas Mark, 3rd Ward Alderman
Carl R. Wasco, 4th Ward Alderman
Venita Hervey, 5th Ward Alderman
Leonard J. Jacobson, 6th Ward Alderman
Ann Thompson-Kelly, 7th Ward Alderman
Nancy L. Johnson, 8th Ward Alderman
Bill Timm, 9th Ward Alderman
Editor’s note: Click here to read the ordinance in PDF format.
Posted Dec. 12-18, 2012, issue
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