CITY HALL — What does a barber shop, investment firm, party planner, and film production company have in common?
They all failed to pay City Hall’s business license tax, at least according to a list released by finance officials this week.
Last year, City Council gave the OK for the finance department to compile and release a list of tax delinquents.
“If a list were published today,” city officials wrote back in November, “there would be 20 businesses delinquent with total outstanding delinquent taxes due of more than $310,000.”
City Hall plans to publish these delinquencies every year.
To make the list the business has to owe more than $5,000 and be at least one fiscal year overdue in their payment.
“A business is placed on the list only after repeated attempts to collect the debt, or bring the business into compliance, have been unsuccessful,” finance officials explained in a release. “Businesses are also notified that they will be included on the list, providing a final opportunity to resolve the matter and avoid being placed on the list.”
There were 18 companies that made the cut and the Daily Press attempted to reach every one.
Quinn Studios, a production and post-production company on Ocean Park Boulevard whose website boasts work on films like “Twilight” and “Transformers” was on the list.
The company President Valentina Castellani was livid in her response to the Daily Press.
“We are totally fine,” she said. “We will pay our business tax.”
As of last check with City Hall the payment had not come in.
Several groups including marketing company Lightdale LLC, real estate management company Prelos Incorporated, technology company RackElastic Inc, and Elizabeth Gibbons LCSW, had telephone lines that were dead or e-mail addresses that bounced.
“We make multiple attempts to contact them and if the letters don’t get returned, we presume that they’re operating,” said Salvador Valles. “If we have any doubts at all that they’re operating we won’t put them on the list. Not to say that we don’t make mistakes, we are human.”
Businesses that have closed are still responsible for taxes due during periods when they were operating. City Hall contracts with a collection agency, Valles said, and even if the company has closed the collection agency will find the owners and try to secure payment.
Messages and e-mails were left for balloon delivery service Balloon Celebrations, iPhone case maker Doria International Inc, Law Office of Max Gorby, Palisades Investment Partners LLC, Pico Barber Shop #2, and hairstylist Jennifer Wheale.
NALA Investments declined to comment for this story.
A representative from Intent Productions US Inc, a party planning service, said he was not aware that he was delinquent and that he’d “take care of that.”
Attorney Nicholas Spirtos said that he hasn’t been practicing in Santa Monica for over four years. He did keep an address after he’d left the city, he said.
Valles said they were under the impression he is still operating in Santa Monica because on his website Spirtos calls himself a Santa Monica attorney and lists his address in the city.
“If the case is that he no longer operates here, all he has to do is provide proof of that and we’ll take him off the list,” Valles said.
A representative from RSF LA, a commercial real estate brokerage, said that there was some issue that was under dispute but could not elaborate. Calls to founder Michael Preiss were not returned by press time.
Gaby Alban of Conexion Inc, a marketing firm that specializes in the Latino market, said that a series of medical issues left her strapped for time to pay the taxes. Additionally, in the past they’ve been confused with another company of a very similar name and she was waiting to make sure that they were taxing the correct Conexion.
Alban broke her back in May of last year. It isn’t even that she doesn’t have the money, she said, it’s just that after dozens of visits to the doctor it fell by the wayside.
Alban has every intent of paying the tax, she said. She attempted to pay City Hall by press time but, she said, they needed some more information which she will attempt to have to them by Monday.
“I do not take this delinquency lightly and I will do everything in my power to (get the info by Monday to bring) our company back into good standing in the Santa Monica business community ASAP,” she wrote in an e-mail.
Two companies, Strome Investment Management and Clouds, a home decor company, were included on the list but have since submitted payments, Valles said.
Those who pay up will be removed from the list within five business days.
“We’re doing this because we want an equitable situation,” Valles said. “If ‘Company A’ pays taxes it’s only fair that ‘Company B’ pays its taxes as well.”