Council views two proposed ordinances

Liquor license, utility tax statutes introduced

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Other Action:

At its Tuesday meeting, the Craig City Council:

• Approved renewal of a tavern liquor license for Popular Bar, 24 W. Victory Way.

• Approved a letter of support written by Craig City Manager Jim Ferree in regards to The Memorial Hospital's building project. The letter will go to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs as part of the hospital's funding application.

During discussions for two proposed city ordinances Tuesday night, members of the Craig City Council remarked how both measures would benefit the city.

First among those were draft regulations for a new liquor license violation procedure.

The new ordinance also would set up a list of penalty guidelines, which all liquor license holders would know and have a designated administrative hearing officer to maintain consistency as new councils are elected.

Councilors said that would be fairer to those businesses than current procedures.

Councilor Terry Carwile and Walt Vanatta, Craig Police Department chief, had suggestions to amend the draft, which City Attorney Kenny Wohl and the rest of the council agreed would be good steps.

First, Carwile asked to clarify that an appeals board would have final say on a decided penalty.

Vanatta said the police department would like to see more up-front training requirements for a liquor license holder's employees.

Tuesday marked the ordinance's introduction to the council, but city officials do not expect to see the ordinance come back for first and second readings until the police department can organize meetings with local liquor license holders.

The police department wants to get feedback from them before the city moves forward with a new system.

Vanatta said officers will work on setting up the meeting when Wohl finishes amending the current draft, which should happen before the next council meeting April 22.

After the police department's discussion with license holders, it would take the council at least two more meetings to pass the ordinance.

The council meets twice each month.

The city also saw the introduction of an ordinance that would rewrite business and occupational taxes on three utility services: telephone, electricity and gas.

In 1985, the then-city council froze utility taxes at 3 percent of a company's 1985 revenue. An economic downturn at the time kept forcing revenue down, City Manager Jim Ferree said, and the council had to act before revenue got too low.

However, the ordinance is a discriminatory tax because its language only applies to companies in business in 1985.

"If a new company came into town, one that didn't exist in 1985," Ferree said, "we couldn't make them pay that tax. We have to provide a level playing field for all these companies."

The city does not want to raise taxes on utility companies because they would just pass it on to the customers, Ferree added.

"They would just pass it on to you and I," he said.

Instead, the council wants to change the tax structure from a percentage to a "per line charge," Ferree said.

"We'll get some growth in those funds," he said, "but they'll come as a result of growth in the community."

Taxes on utility companies would not change, neither would customer charges, and there shouldn't be a reason for companies to raise rates, Ferree said.

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