When the agenda item of Sunday alcohol sales by liquor stores and retail outlets appeared on the city commission agenda Tuesday, commissioner Glen Davis jumped into the conversation quickly — with some numbers.
"We are losing $229,500 a year in sales tax," Davis said. "We could gain $229,500 if we allow alcohol sales on Sundays. I know some communities call it a sin tax. It goes to certain projects. I have not brought this up to my commissioners, but organizations like the chamber, Grand Central and other organizations that we try to fund ... it would be nice to take some of this money and utilize it to fund these. That is just food for thought."
The commission had looked two weeks ago at opening up Sunday for sales of alcohol for "off premise consumption," which city attorney Chris Towle explained as sales of alcohol in its original container and taken out of the store before being consumed by customers. It took up the matter for a vote Tuesday.
The commission voted 4-1 on a motion by Glen Davis to approve ordinance 4985-19, which would allow for the retail sales of alcohol and liquor in the city of Newton.
Mayor Kathy Valentine was the vote against.
"Life isn't always about the profit," Valentine said. "There is a time when honor and deference for a special day comes before the dollar. That is where I am at. I am alone on this, and that is OK."
The ordinance will be published twice in the legal notice section of the Newton Kansan, which triggers a 60-day protest period. During the protest period, a petition can be created that would trigger a public vote.
"I can say affirmatively that we will have a petition. I say we because I will be representing that," said Lance Gormley, who has already filed for election to the city commission in the Nov. 5 election. "This will go to the vote. I believe it is n the best interest in the community to make this decision. I have heard a lot of people (tonight) talk about profit and I understand that, especially with the situation we are in as a city. But as far as communicating with people, one thing that has been asked of me is why can't they just extend the hours during the week ... so we can have that time on Sunday to show deference to people."
If Gormley is successful, the question would appear on the general election ballot Nov. 5.
The commission also discussed the hours of sale for beer — looking at retailers like grocery stores vs liquor stores. Under current ordinance, each has a different period of sale under state law.For those hours to be aligned, the cereal malt beverage licensees would need more restrictions.
"I have been approached by customers ... there is an issue of is it fair. ... They can sell the same beer that we have from 6 a.m. to midnight. The issue is, is that fair?" said Murray Anderson, owner of Anderson Retail Liquor.
The state law allows for alcohol retailer license holders to sell from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Cereal Malt Beverage license holders can sell from 6 am. to midnight Monday through Saturday.
The commission decided to keep the hours in line with state law, not making any changes.
In other business the commission:
• Hosted a work session to discuss the 2019-20 budget.
• Approved a settlement agreement with Eby Construction, Spangenberg Phillips Tice Architecture and Dynamic Sports Construction over problems with the gym floor at the Newton Rec Center. The floor was installed in 2014 as part of a renovation project, and shortly after, staff began to see defects including fastening screws not holding to the base and protruding up through the playing surface. Numerous repair attempts have been ineffective and the floor will need to be replaced.
• Approved a contract with Wichita State University’s Public Policy and Management Center for $18,750 to conduct a comprehensive community survey.
• Amended the animal control ordinance to update pet licensing fees.
• Proclaimed May 19-25 as Poppy Week in remembrance of those who served and died in war.
• Proclaimed May 19-25 as EMS Week.
• Approved the waiving of special event fees for the First Bank customer appreciation cookout on June 21.
• Approved a request to use the public parking lot at 121 E. Sixth St. for a farmers market.
• Amended the Planning Commission bylaws to set the meeting time for 6 p.m. on the first Monday of each month.
• Approved plans and specifications for upsizing the sewer line along Old Main from S.E. Eighth Street to S.E. 12th and set a bid date of 11 a.m. June 4.