The Douglas County Health Department is threatening to close about 70 bars and restaurants because they have not paid their annual permit fees.
Douglas County, in a statement Wednesday, said the spate of unpaid food and drink permits is an “unprecedented problem.” Closings could begin next week, the county says.
“It is against the law to operate without a food and drink permit,” Health Director Adi Pour said. “Those establishments must pay their permit fee, or they will be closed.”
The permit fees, which vary but typically are a few hundred dollars, are due Jan. 1 every year, and all affected operations get an invoice in January, county officials said.
The bars and restaurants face a $100 late fee. In addition, the businesses could be prosecuted with a misdemeanor citation of operating without a permit, the county said.
The county's initial threat Wednesday involved about 90 businesses, but the announcement spurred some payments. By late afternoon, about 70 bars and restaurants remained on the list.
Pour said the time spent collecting unpaid permits takes inspectors away from “the important job of checking for food and drink safety.” She added, “It also costs the Health Department a significant amount of operating revenue.”
World-Herald staff writer Erin Golden contributed to this report.
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