Archive for Wednesday, May 28, 2003

City Council tables Sunday sales

May 28, 2003

It appears a proposed ordinance in the city of Basehor allowing the sale of packaged liquor on Sundays has more opposition than originally thought.

On Tuesday, May 27, the Basehor City Council tabled the issue, 4-1, citing a need to further research items such as hours and days liquor stores could remain open.

Last week, city officials expected the resolution to receive approval.

However, although still under review by city officials, the proposal may have a difficult time receiving City Council approval as two City Council members -- Bill Hooker and Keith Sifford -- said they would not vote for the bill.

"I certainly don't think we want to be encouraging more liquor stores in the community," Sifford said.

"I've been doing some calculating and liquor stores are open six days a week for 14 hours a day," he said. "That's 84 hours a week. If you can't buy (alcohol) in six days and 84 hours, maybe you don't need to be drinking in the first place."

Sifford voted against tabling the issue, and said he would have voted against the ordinance had a vote taken place Tuesday night.

Hooker said he opposes the ordinance because it could open the city to possible lawsuits in the future.

"I'm going to be opposed to it," Hooker said. "I think it opens us up if there is an (alcohol related) accident and we were the ones that sold it."

Also in dispute Tuesday night were legal issues such as the city's right to limit the number of liquor stores in Basehor.

City Council member John Bonee, while in favor of Sunday sales, said the city should seek a mechanism to limit the number of liquor stores in the city.

"I wouldn't want this to turn out like Missouri, where it's a free-for- all," Bonee said.

"(There), it's either a liquor store or a pawn shop every other block and that's what I'm hoping to avoid here," he added.

City Council members also wanted to confer with state liquor control officials to determine hours stores can remain open and what holidays stores should be closed, before making a decision.

Under the proposed ordinance, liquor stores could be open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.

Liquor stores would be prohibited from opening on Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas day.

City officials discussed changes to the ordinance including allowing liquor stores to open on all days except Easter and Christmas.

City Council members said they would review the resolution further with state alcohol-control officials before making a final decision on Sunday sales.

Currently, Sunday sales of packaged liquor are legal only in Edwardsville and Kansas City, Kan., where those municipalities invoked their home rule powers to opt out of the 1949 Liquor Control Act.

Since then, the idea has gained momentum as other cities looked to Sunday sales as a way to generate revenue for local businesses competing against stores open seven days a week.

This week, the city of Bonner Springs approved a resolution allowing the sale of packaged liquor on Sundays.

Liquor stores in Bonner Springs can remain open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. Only on Thanksgiving and Christmas are liquor stores banned from opening, under the Bonner Springs ordinance.

The city of Leavenworth is currently reviewing a similar proposal and could make a decision in coming weeks.

City Council members originally discussed the Sunday sales bill during a retreat earlier this month. At that time, the proposal had City Council support.

Mayor Joseph Scherer broached the idea as a way to help businesses competing against stores open seven days a week. He reiterated that sentiment Tuesday night.

"We've got to support our local businesses," the mayor said.

Cities receive money from liquor sales at drinking establishments, but municipalities do not receive direct sales tax revenue from packaged liquor sales.

Scherer said he hopes state officials will take a sterner look at that approach.

"I'd like to figure a way to get some of that money for the city," he said.

Basehor city attorney John Thompson said the Sunday sales issue could go before the Kansas Supreme Court in coming months. The Supreme Court could uphold the rights of cities to opt out under home rule amendment, or prohibition of Sunday sales could be re-enforced.

"There is a possibility we could be going through this process for nothing," Thompson said.

"But there is a strong feeling the Supreme Court is going to uphold the decision," he added.

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