By Kay Thompson
After the cost of the city permit fees for liquor was brought to the attention of the council members at a previous meeting, they agreed to discuss the fees they charged at the next meeting. The item came up on the agenda at the October 22 meeting.
The council was presented with a ordinance that allowed them to fill in the amounts along with a list of the current fees. Last time this ordinance was presented to the council, it was presented at the same time as the medical marijuana ordinance.
Local merchant, Paul Franks, owner of Jimmie’s Grocery, asked the council what they were thinking when they passed such enormous fees. Franks pointed out the retail beer license, while for 3.2% beer, was only $20 per year and now they were charging $500 per year, which is a 2,500 percent increase.
Vice Mayor Wayne Bacon said they didn’t look at the fees as closely as they should have because it was presented at the same time as the marijuana ordinance.
Franks went on to say that it felt like the businesses were being punished for selling beer and raising the fees was not a business-friendly move. Franks asked “respectfully” that the council rescind the new prices and charge previous prices or at least make a reasonable rate increase. Franks also asked to make the fees retroactive.
Mayor Mike Fuller said he agreed with Franks on several points. He asked Interim City Manager Dustin Danker about issuing refunds and Danker said it would be no problem.
Bacon asked City Attorney Jack Cadenhead how the prices were set in the first place. Cadenhead stated that the Oklahoma Municipal League had sent out draft ordinances for cities to duplicate. He went on to say that some of the examples were from Norman, Oklahoma City, Duncan and Fairview to name a few.
Councilman Anthony Landers made the motion to amend the fees to the following: Retail Beer from $500 per year to $100, Retail Wine from $1000 to $150, Mixed Beverage from $1000 for the initial and $900 for the renewal to $500 for the initial and $300 for the renewal, On-premise Beer and Wine from $600 initial and $600 retail (state statute only allows for $500 initial and $450 renewal) to $300 initial and $250 renewal. Bacon seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
Danker stated they would start issuing refunds the following day.
After the City Council made the decision to lower the fees, several local businesses applied for their alcohol license.