City considers amending alcohol ordinance again

Published 10:45 am Wednesday, August 2, 2017

By Beth Alston

AMERICUS — The Americus Mayor and City Council held a called meeting July 26 to discuss the alcoholic beverage ordinance. The Council had been reviewing and refining the ordinance for some 18 months before adopting it by a vote of 5-1 in April. Voting for adoption were Council members Lou Chase, Carla Cook, Juanita Wilson, Nelson Brown and Shirley Green Reese. Council member Daryl Dowdell voted against it. In June, council approved an amendment to the ordinance, lowering the cost of alcohol licenses by 10 percent, at the recommendation of Steve Kennedy, city administrator.
At the July 20 regular meeting, the council chamber was filled with alcoholic beverage license holders. Two spoke out in opposition of the requirement that every employee who sells or serves alcohol must undergo a background check and be finger printed at a cost of $39.50. They cited the financial hardship this places on the business owners.
During the called meeting, Lou Chase made the motion to direct the city attorney to draft an amendment to the alcohol beverage license ordinance related to fees and finger prints. The requirement will be for a background check at the expense of the City of Americus. Carla Cook seconded the motion. Chase, Cook and Juanita Wilson voted yes, while Daryl Dowdell, Nelson Brown and Shirley Green-Reese voted against. Mayor Barry Blount broke the tie, voting yes. The Council will vote to approve the amended ordinance at its August meeting.
Also at the called meeting, Dowdell made a motion to amend the alcohol beverage license ordinance by deleting sections 6-69 and 6-70. That motion was seconded by Brown. Voting yes were Dowdell, Brown and Green-Reese and voting no were Chase, Cook and Wilson. The mayor broke the tie, voting no.
The sections Dowdell wanted deleted require a mandatory workshop for licensees and mandatory training for permits holders (6-69); and the requirement for all employees and independent contractors to be permitted as well. This section (6-70) also denies permitting for applicants who have been convicted of or pled guilty to a felony without five years of applying, have two or more convictions for any alcohol or drug related offenses, have any outstanding warrants for crimes described in this section, is on probation or parole for any alcohol or drug related offense. Applications may also be denied for applicants who are not a U.S. citizen or are an alien admitted for permanent residence who has not been granted employment authorization to work in the U.S. by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This section also deals with the appeals process which may be made, within 10 days of denial,  to the license review board.
With the vote last week, these two sections will remain intact in the ordinance.