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City may tweak auditing process

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Businesses would have to supply tax returns

By Jesef Williams

Changes may be coming to the way the city of Lancaster audits businesses that pay license fees to the city.

At its Feb. 26 meeting, City Council voted unanimously on first reading to amend an existing ordinance regarding inspections and audits.

The vote was 6-0, as Councilwoman Jackie Harris was absent from the meeting.

If adopted, businesses will have to provide copies of income tax returns upon the city’s request.

Teresa Meeks, the city’s support services director, talked about the desired change during the Feb. 26 meeting.

“As it stands right now, audits have not been conducted for a number of years, and we would like to begin to rectify this situation,” Meeks said.

“We have determined that this method seems to be much more effective,” she said, adding that this process would allow staff to check all businesses rather than singling out a few.

The proposed amended ordinance says the following: 

“Applicants shall be required to submit copies of portions of state and federal income tax returns reflecting gross income figures.” 

The present method of having the business license specialist visiting businesses will remain in play, as the tax returns would serve as an additional layer of auditing.

“We don’t want to take out physically doing audits,” Meeks said. “This way, we do it for every business.”

Councilwoman Sara Eddins voiced her approval of the idea.

“The income tax seems like the perfect way to go,” she said.

Council is expected to have final reading of the ordinance at its March 12 meeting.

Housing authority update

Jerry Witherspoon, executive director of the Lancaster Housing Authority, gave his annual update to City Council of the authority’s state of affairs at the Feb. 26 meeting.

The Housing Authority maintains two public-housing sites – Caroline Court and Frank L. Roddey Homes. In addition to that, it oversees the local allocation of federal Section 8 housing subsidies.

Each year, 247 local Section 8 vouchers are given, which recipients use to pay rent.

“It’s an awesome program,” Witherspoon said.

The primary focus of the Housing Authority, though, remains public housing. Nearly 140 local families live in either Caroline Court or Frank L. Roddey Homes.

“It’s the backbone of the operation of the Housing Authority,” he said.

 

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152