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Blasius Chocolate Factory settling tax bill

Blasius Chocolate Factory is settling its tax bill with the city, meaning the popular Kensington candymaker can stay open through Easter weekend.

Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald said the shop signed an agreement to pay its delinquent taxes and made a down payment on Thursday afternoon.

City officials had moved on Wednesday to close the chocolate store over $12,000 in unpaid taxes, kicking out customers and blocking the business' driveway. The payment agreement means Blasius can keep operating through the Easter holiday -- the busiest time of year for the store -- without police returning to the site.

The nearly-90-year-old store at 1849 E. Venango St. had owed more than $12,000 in delinquent taxes, racked up over the last five years, according to Revenue Department records.

Blasius owner Phil Kerwick said Thursday that the tax bill was due to a dispute over the use-and-occupancy tax. He contended that he should only have to pay the tax for the months his business is open, while the city said he needed to pay for the full year.

Kerwick was sent a warning letter in December, and officials revoked his commercial-activity license the next month. The city had issued multiple orders for Blasius to cease operations, including Wednesday's enforcement, but Kerwick had defied the orders and remained open.

The store told customers on its Facebook page Thursday afternoon that the "problem is solved" and it had "no more tax issues."