Archive for Wednesday, September 10, 2003

City council OKs Sunday liquor sales

September 10, 2003

The city council on Monday passed a charter ordinance allowing Sunday liquor sales.

But what happens in the next two months will determine if that actually comes to fruition.

¢ Any protest petition will need about 40 signatures -- which is 10 percent of the most recent voter turnout, which was 384.

¢ If a petition is determined to be valid, the liquor issue goes back to the council and requires another super majority vote to pass.

¢ At that point, it would become law.

The governing body, including Mayor Dave Taylor, approved the ordinance on a 4-2 vote. Taylor and council members Emmett Wetta, Steve Gumm and Ron Cranor voted for the ordinance, while the other two council members, Kathy Graveman and Velda Roberts, voted against.

A charter ordinance requires a super majority -- or four of six members.

Although the ordinance passed, stores still might not be able to open on Sundays.

According to law, the city now must publish the ordinance twice in The Mirror. If no protest petition is filed within 61 days of the final publication date, the ordinance becomes law.

On Tuesday, assistant city administrator Kathy Bard said that someone already had picked up a form for a protest petition from City Hall. The petition will need roughly 40 signatures because it requires 10 percent of the most recent voter turnout, which was 384.

If the petition is determined to be valid, the liquor issue goes back to the council, which decides whether to have a special election or just kill the ordinance. Bard said an election would cost the city about $2,000.

Council members decided on these regulations for the ordinance: liquor stores may be open on all Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., except for Easter, which always falls on a Sunday. Although Christmas doesn't always fall on a Sunday and Thanksgiving never does, stores must close on those days as well under the charter ordinance.

Tonganoxie resident Mike Weston spoke to the council against Sunday sales, stating that people just as easily could stock up Saturday as they could on Sunday.

Weston also said that at the time the mayor initially brought Sunday liquor sales up for discussion among the council in June, the mayor said he had spoken with the city's two liquor store owners, Harry Crouse and JR Lingenfelser. They said they weren't in favor of the extra day because they didn't want to work on Sundays.

Since then, however, many area cities have approved the sales, which Crouse said has put a strain on business.

"Saturday's are our biggest day," Crouse said. "Now it isn't. A 15-minute drive, and they've got it."

Graveman said she received many calls against Sunday sales, while Roberts said she fielded many in support of the sales.

"I will say that my husband and I owned a liquor store, so I will say that I'm not opposed to alcohol that's used responsibly," Roberts said.

However, Roberts did vote against the measure. She has been concerned about an ongoing issue in higher courts of whether the mayor is part of the governing body. In early Kansas city councils the mayor was the council's leader who voted only if there were a tie. But according to the League of Kansas Municipalities, the governing body is defined as six members.

As for the issue itself, Gumm said that a protest petition, if it materializes, would be the litmus test.

"I think the people of Tonganoxie will ultimately decide what we really want to do," Gumm said.

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