The Jenkins City Council has voted unanimously to remove a surcharge on food sold by restaurants that also serve alcoholic beverages.
The council voted to remove the words “and food” from its Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) ordinance during a special meeting held September 25. The move came as a result of the issue being raised in the council’s regular meeting earlier last month and from recommendations from both City Attorney Randall Tackett and City Revenue Officer Benny McCall, based on research each had done in the matter.
The vote will negate food being included in the surcharge for alcohol. The policy will go into effect after the new ordinance undergoes two readings and a vote. The first reading will take place in the city’s next regular council meeting. The council will not meet Thursday, October 2, as had been planned, because several members are unable to attend.
City Attorney Tackett told the council members that the two words “and food” had been at the heart of the citizen complaints that were brought to their attention by citizen Betsy Addington at the regular meeting. Councilman Rick Damron, who made the motion to look into the possibility of removing the food surcharge, told the other members that he had read the motion carefully, but the food surcharge had escaped his notice. Tackett told the council he wanted to make sure it understood that neither the additional charge for alcohol or food was a tax, but was part of the licensing fee the restaurant pays to the city. He said that by removing the words “and food” the fee will be for alcohol sales only.
As a moist city, establishments in Jenkins must derive a total of 70 percent or more of their receipts from the sale of food. Tackett said the changes to the ABC law will not alter the city’s original vote or the ordinance the council passed to allow alcohol sales, but added that the law the city originally followed to vote the city “moist” in August 2011 is no longer in effect. He said the recent upsurge of mini-distilleries being established in Kentucky had prompted some tinkering with the enabling legislation for alcohol sales, and that the General Assembly had taken the rare step of passing a six-month interim statute to accommodate alcohol sales before another law goes into effect in January 2015.
Tackett said the matter of food is unclear in the interim law, but that he is certain that an additional food charge tacked onto alcohol sales will not be included in the new law that will go into effect in 2015.
McCall recommended striking the words “and food” from the ordinance as well, saying he had spoken to a number of tax and ABC officers in nearby cities about the matter. He said the Jenkins ordinance had been based on one Whitesburg had adopted earlier.
Rick Damron said he wanted to be clear that he had in no way meant to cause any problems for the Las Peñas Mexican restaurant, which at this time is the only restaurant in Jenkins that sells alcohol with meals. Damron said that when he became aware of the surcharge, he felt it was wrong to charge people who did not purchase alcohol and resolved to address it in the council. Damron made the motion to alter the ordinance to remove the words “and food.” The vote was unanimous.
The council also voted to leave the city’s tax rates for real property and tangible personal property as well as for motor vehicles at their present rate. The tax rate for real and tangible personal property is 34.99 cents per $100 and the rate for motor vehicles is 42.19 cents per $100. Several council members had discussed the prospect of lowering the property tax, but tax receipts showed that the lowered rates from last year had decreased city tax receipts to the point that even with the occupational taxes, the city would not be able to lower rates further.
In other business, the council voted to purchase a new garbage truck on an emergency basis, which negates the need to bid the truck. The move came because the city’s garbage truck, which was purchased during the administration of Charlie Dixon, had been wrecked and an older standby truck being used. Mayor G.C. Kincer said the standby truck is in bad shape. Kincer told the council he had approved the purchase of the new truck on an emergency basis and after some discussion, the council voted to approve it. The purchase price of the new truck was $118,769, but the city received $74,666 in the insurance settlement from the wrecked truck, making the cost of the new truck $41,769.
There was also some discussion about purchasing a used truck, but most council members favored the new truck due to warranties and the possibility of a component failure in a used vehicle. The city has saved money in recent months by hauling its own solid waste to the landfill and the standby truck was unable to make the journey, so that was also a factor in the decision. John Wyatt, who said he lives on Brickyard Hill, also suggested purchasing a smaller “mini-packer” truck to negotiate more narrow streets.
The council also voted to solidify the city’s policy on making donations to forbid making any donations to private interests, although the city is still free to donate the use of its equipment in approved situations. The issue was addressed because Councilman Damron had complained at earlier meeting about donations that were made to athletic teams in Whitesburg and Neon.