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NILES New tattoo parlors banned

By Denise Dick

Thursday, October 18, 2001

Officials plan to discuss a performance audit of the income tax department.
NILES -- There will be no more tattoo parlors or body-piercing establishments in the city.
Council members unanimously approved a measure Wednesday banning the opening of any new businesses offering body piercing, tattooing, scarification or branding.
Scarification uses incisions to permanently mark the skin; tattooing uses needles or other instruments to place designs in ink under the skin.
"We have a legal right under home rule to prohibit these establishments," said Councilman Stephen G. Papalas, D-at large, chairman of council's safety committee.
Construction: Tim McCoy wanted to open a tattoo and body-piercing parlor on U.S. Route 422. Peter Marchese, city building inspector, stopped work on the building last month, saying the property isn't zoned for such a facility. Marchese also contended that McCoy didn't obtain a building permit to erect interior walls.
City administration and council members then considered the legislation. McCoy had appealed Marchese's decision, and the city board of zoning appeals tabled McCoy's request for a variance at a meeting Wednesday.
Health issues, including threats of transmission and spread of AIDS and hepatitis posed by tattooing and body piercing, prompted the legislation.
A tattoo parlor a few doors down from where McCoy hoped to open his business, Roy's Iron and Ink, will stay in its location because it was operating before the law was passed. The city's health department inspects the facility.
Audit: Council members also requested a meeting with the administration and city treasurer to discuss a performance audit of the income tax department released last week by state auditor Jim Petro.
The audit found that nearly 40 percent of businesses and individuals within the city didn't file income tax returns in 2000. It also listed 20 recommendations for the income tax department, including using all of the functions available on the income tax computer system and maintaining more accurate records of the number of active businesses and individuals in the city.
The income tax department is part of the city treasurer's office. Vickie Flynn-Putnam is the part-time city treasurer. She didn't attend the meeting. Her term ends at the end of the year, and she didn't seek re-election.
Papalas said residents who've paid their taxes have told him they have received letters from the department saying they haven't paid.
"This leads people to wonder if their money is being properly deposited," he said.
An investigation should be done before letters are sent out to determine if residents and business people have paid.
"Once we lose the trust of the public, it's very difficult to get that back," Papalas said.
Scheduling: Councilman Robert Marino Jr., D-at large, suggested a round-table discussion for 4 p.m. Oct. 31 for council and the administration to discuss the income tax department's audit. Papalas asked the council clerk to contact Flynn-Putnam to see if she can attend and if not, to ask Flynn-Putnam to set the time.