Sunday alcohol sales on the table in Green Forest
Green Forest businesses may be able to sell alcohol on Sundays soon.
The Green Forest City Council voted at its Tuesday meeting to approve Ordinance 653, which would allow businesses such as bars, private clubs, pool halls or other business establishments within the city limits to sell or serve alcohol from noon until 10 p.m. on Sundays.
Council members Tim Hatman and Willa Kerby voted in favor of passing the ordinance while council members Cody Boren and Pam Norton voted against it. Since the council was split on the decision, Mayor Charles Reece served as the tiebreaker and voted to pass the ordinance on its first reading.
Boren said he was against the ordinance because he believes the citizens of Green Forest have made their opinions on Sunday alcohol sales clear in the past.
"This issue failed 57 to 43 percent on a state level in 2014," he said, "and it also failed on the county level and city level here. Why is this something the council is choosing to go against the direction of our citizens on?"
Hatman said his outlook on the issue was that it could help local businesses.
"We have to help the businesses our city has as well. We're not saying they can sell alcohol by the six-packs on Sundays," he said. "They can come by these businesses, stop in and have a drink if they want. That's their right."
Hatman continued, "I think we should help what little business we have in town any way we can. We don't want our city to dry up."
"Even if it's going against our constituents?" Boren asked. "The citizens of this community have voiced their opinion on this several times in the past."
"No, I don't want to go against them," Hatman said. "I just want to help business."
Reece said he would like to have a copy of Title 7, Chapter 7.24.03, which Ordinance 653 would amend, available for the council members to review at the next meeting before voting on the ordinance for its second and third readings.
Also at the meeting, the council voted to pass Ordinance 651, which will raise water and wastewater rates to finance the city's wastewater expansion project, on its second and third meetings. Reece had said at the council's Oct. 11 meeting that the rate increase will be about a 5 percent increase for water services and about a 10 percent increase for sewer services.
Ordinance 651 also includes an emergency clause, saying that the construction of the improvements to the wastewater system is necessary for the preservation of the public health, peace and welfare of citizens. Hatmanand Norton voted to pass the emergency clause, and Boren and Kerby voted against it. Reece broke the tie by voting to adopt the emergency clause.
Reece asked Jill Grimsley Drewyor of Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates and Woodyard P.L.L.C., to explain why the emergency clause was necessary. Drewyor's firm is serving as bond counsel for the city's water and sewer system revenue improvement bond project.
"We need the rate to be adopted, even though it will not go into effect for you customers until Feb. 1," Drewyor said. "We need it to be adopted effective now in order to sell the bonds."
She continued, "The bond purchasers need to see that this was approved by the city because it will change the income for your water and wastewater system, and they are looking to see what those numbers will be in order to make the decision to purchase bonds."
Drewyor said it is typical for emergency clauses to be adopted in these types of transactions because market changes can impact the sale of bonds, making it important to proceed quickly.
The board also voted to approve Resolution 2016-05, which enables the city to be reimbursed for expenses already paid for the project when the bond issue comes into effect. The resolution states that the city intends to reimburse all or a portion of the cost of the project, which has been paid by the city from the city's general fund or other funds not earlier than 60 calendar days before the adoption of the resolution, with proceeds of the bonds.
The board later voted to accept a bid from Porterfield and Company CPA, P.L.L.C. for the water and wastewater audit at a rate of $10,065 per year for three years.
Reece said the council will have a special meeting at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, to approve the bond ordinance.
The council's next regular session is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, at City Hall.