Auditorium alcohol request on hold pending liquor liability legal research
A request to use the city auditorium for a wedding reception serving alcohol was put on hold by the McCook City Council Monday night at the regular meeting.
By a unanimous vote, with Mayor Dennis Berry absent, the council voted to take up the item at the next council meeting April 19, so liquor liability issues could be cleared up.
Currently, alcohol cannot be served on city property without a special liquor license and approval from the City Council.
The postponed item would have allowed Mark Friehe the use of the city auditorium for a June 26 wedding reception with alcohol served, as long as a special designated liquor license and its requirements were approved by the council.
Another related regular agenda item which the council approved on first reading Monday night was a revised ordinance that allows alcohol at the city auditorium upon approval of a special designated liquor license by the city council. The liquor license holder would have insurance coverage on the event or a liquor liabllity on their policy and the city as an additional insured. This would remove liability from the city and place it on the person or caterer with the liquor license.
Councilman Mike Gonzales requested that this ordinance be approved on first reading Monday night, suspending the three readings it usually takes to pass an ordinance. Councilman Gonzales cited the need to expedite the issue so plans for the wedding reception could move forward.
Ordinances do not take effect until 15 days after the final reading.
Councilman Aaron Kircher balked at suspending the readings and instead wanted to continue with three readings. He maintained that all steps should be followed when amending city law.
"We still need to take our time ... do it slow and do it right," he said.
The motion to suspend the three readings failed by 3 to 1, with Councilmen Jerry Calvin, Lonnie Anderson and Gonzales voting for it and Kircher voting against it. Suspending the three reading rule needs a majority vote of 4 to 1, which could not be done with Mayor Berry absent.
The council also approved Monday night, on the first of three readings, another amended city ordinance that increases damage deposits and rental fees at the city auditorium.
Increased fees to rent the main floor, balcony and stage at the auditorium are: non-profit groups and governmental agencies: $50 per day (formerly $25); all others: $150 per day (formerly $75).
Clean-up and damage deposits: $100 for events with no food, drink or alcohol; $400 for events with food and drink; $800 for events serving alcohol ; $800 for dances.
Formerly, alcohol was prohibited in the auditorium and a $200 deposit was required for an event with food and beverages.
In setting the fees, the council was in agreement at a prior meeting to make the fees high enough so the city was not in competition with local businesses and re-coup possible damages.