The Columbia City Council gave a second reading to an ordinance that establishes regulations for the sale of alcohol within the city limits.
The ordinance sets licensing fee rates as well as sale hours and allows for Sunday sales from 1 p.m. until 10 p.m.
During Wednesday night’s special called meeting, Clerk Rhonda Loy was named the interim ABC administrator. The administrator is in charge of accepting local applications and enforcing the city’s ordinance. Loy is planning to meet with administrators in other communities to gauge the responsibility and time involved in the complex process.
The city is still ironing out details, but state law allows a community to go wet 60 days after a local option election. The city must also publish a public notice about the ordinance for it to take effect, so it’s unclear when applications can officially be filed.
The following article was written following Monday night’s meeting where the ordinance was given first reading.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN MAY 19, 2016 COMMUNITY VOICE
The Columbia City Council gave first reading to an ordinance Monday that establishes regulations for the sale of alcohol within the city limits.
City Attorney Marshall Loy read a summary of the ordinance during a special called meeting Monday night.
The city’s ordinance allows for the sale of alcohol on Sunday, as opposed to a county ordinance that prohibits Sunday sales. All businesses within the city limits fall under the city guidelines and pay licensing fees to the city. Businesses outside of the city limits must follow the county ordinance and pay county licensing fees. All businesses must also pay state licensing fees.
The city ordinance calls for a six percent licensing fee on alcohol sold by the drink, 5 percent for packaged spirits and wine, and four percent on malt beverages, or beer.
Annual license fees vary, with restaurants paying up to $2,000.
The city is calling a special meeting on Wednesday night at 5 p.m. to have a second reading on the ordinance.
The Community Voice requested a copy of the proposed ordinance Monday immediately following the meeting but the request was denied. Mayor Hardwick did provide a limited number of pages from the ordinance, one of which includes a small portion designating the Alcohol Beverage Control Administrator.
The city must designate an ABC Administrator but neither Loy nor Mayor Curtis Hardwick said who that person would be. A page from the ordinance that creates the position has a blank spot where the name of the ABC administrator should be.
City Clerk Rhonda Loy asked questions about the responsibilities of the ABC administrator and what role her staff would play in administering regulations.
Council member Craig Dean asked if the administrator would be in house and Hardwick said yes. No other information was given.
COUNTY, CITY DIFFER
The city’s ordinance would allow the sale of alcohol from 6 a.m. until midnight Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. until 10 p.m. Sunday. The county ordinance does not allow Sunday sales.
The county is holding a special called meeting this morning (Thursday) at 9 a.m. to hold the final reading of its ordinance.
The Community Voice contacted two magistrates who made and seconded the motion to restrict sales on Sunday to see if they may change their vote because of the city’s ordinance.
Magistrate Daryl Flatt said he was reconsidering and hoped to come up with a compromise. He said he might be willing to vote for restaurants to sell by the drink on Sunday.
Billy Coffey said he is also thinking about whether to change his vote but does not think there will be a lot of businesses locating in the county instead of the city limits.
Both Coffey and Flatt represent at least one precinct where the majority of voters voted against going wet.
“I’ve thought about it a lot,” Coffey said. “It’s one of the harder decisions I have had to make. I have to live with myself.”
Flatt said he planned to call some constituents who opposed Sunday sales to see if they still feel that way after learning the businesses in the city limits will be allowed to sell alcohol on Sunday. He too said the decision is one of the most difficult he has had to make as a magistrate.
The magistrates have received phone calls from people supporting Sunday sales, prompted at least in part by a social media campaign for Progress in Adair County – PAC, the group that led the petition to bring alcohol sales to a vote.
Shannon Sexton said the five magistrates who voted against Sunday sales are standing in the way of progress.
“We can’t figure out a reason for restricting Sunday sales in the county,” Sexton said.
While magistrates said they have heard from voters who want sales prohibited on Sunday because of religious reasons, Sexton says the issue is an economic one and voters have already spoken.
For some people, however, opposing Sunday sales is a religious conviction. For others, it continues to be a way to fight the destruction that alcohol abuse can cause.
After being interviewed by the Community Voice, Coffey received a phone call from someone who witnessed a murder-suicide and blamed alcohol for the tragedy.
“He said, ‘How would you feel?’” Coffey said.
Melly Cundiff, a restaurant owner in Coburg, wants to see Sunday sales and says Sunday is vital to the restaurant industry.
“It would hurt tremendously if we don’t have Sunday sales,” she said.
By Sharon Burton