Package liquor sales and the sale of beer in grocery stores will become law in Whitesburg soon after the second reading of a new ordinance is conducted at a special meeting to be held next Tuesday (August 21).
The Whitesburg City Council heard the first reading of the ordinance at their regular August meeting Tuesday night with Mayor James Wiley Craft reading an executive summary. Craft told the council the ordinance reflects the will of the people who voted overwhelmingly in a special election held in June to expand the current ordinance to allow for expanded alcohol sales in the city.
Among the provisions of the new ordinance (Ordinance 2012-05) that takes effect at midnight August 29 is the establishment of a City Alcohol Beverage Control Administrator. The ordinance also prescribes the hours for sales and other regulations affecting alcoholic beverage sales and sets the fees for licenses, all of which are paid annually. A wholesaler’s license will cost $3,000 per year and a retail package license is $600. A retail “per drink” license is also $600, and a brewer’s license is $500. A microbrewery license is $500, a retailer’s beer license is $200 and a brew on the premise license is $100.
Licenses will be in effect from June 1 of any year until May 31 of the following year. The food sales requirement for restaurants in the new ordinance is reduced to 50 percent food and 50 percent alcohol instead of the current 70 percent food sales requirement.
Craft said there will be no Sunday alcohol sales in Whitesburg, saying that decision reflected the will of the council as well as his own desires. He did say that the council might revisit the matter for a possible exception for Super Bowl Sunday, but it is not certain.
Whitesburg physician Dr. John Pellegrini attended the meeting and told the council he is interested in obtaining a package license for a specialty wine and liquor outlet, but Craft said all license applications will be collected by the city ABC Administrator and forwarded to the state ABC Board which will then make the recommendation on who should get the two package liquor licenses that will be allotted to the city.
Pellegrini, who also owns a local restaurant that sells alcohol under the current ordinance, asked the council to revisit the law requiring establishments that sell alcohol to pay a six-percent tax on food saying it creates an unfair advantage for those establishments that do not sell alcohol and are not subject to the tax. Pellegrini suggested a three-percent tax on all restaurants, but Craft said that under current Kentucky law, any tax on restaurant sales other than an alcohol tax must go to promote tourism. Craft said the Kentucky League of Cities lobbied unsuccessfully to have the law changed, but that it may come up again in the next legislative session.
Craft also told the council that Governor Steve Beshear has created a task force to look at the current Kentucky Alcoholic Beverage Law with an eye toward simplifying it. Craft said the law as it is written is nearly incomprehensible and very difficult to understand.
In other business, Mayor Craft directed Whitesburg Water Maintenance Director Chris Caudill to inspect all city restaurants for grease traps. Caudill introduced the matter when he gave the Water and Sewer report, saying that although the city’s sewer pump station near Wal-Mart is nearly new, it is already showing advanced signs of wear and tear due to excessive grease. Caudill said it is probably from the two restaurants in the nearby shopping center. Craft told Caudill the city’s grease ordinance requires that all restaurants be inspected for functioning grease traps that comply with the law.
“It’s a priority that must be done,” said Craft.
Caudill also told the council city workers replaced nearly 100 feet of sewer line in the Upper Bottom and have repaired several leaks in water lines. He said some equipment problems have been addressed as well.
Kevin Howard of Summit Engineering told the council that work has started on installing six-inch heavy duty water lines in the Upper Bottom and that paving work there probably won’t start until September 3.
Craft also told Dr. Pellegrini the city plans to address paving problems on Cowan Street and Easy Street.
Craft also reminded the council about the Riverside Days Celebration scheduled for this weekend. Councilman James Bates asked how much the city receives from Riverside Days and Craft said nothing. Bates said that since the city spends a good deal of money on overtime for the police department and sanitation workers it should get something back.
Whitesburg Police Chief Tyrone Fields also asked that people having fundraising road blocks be told they must obey traffic laws and not jump in front of cars or block traffic. Craft told Fields that if such a situation occurs again his officers are to shut the roadblock down.