Osage City hurries toward ordinance change for alcohol sales on city property

OSAGE CITY-After dancing around the law for years, the Osage City Council decided this week it was time to make it legal to sell alcohol on city property.

The council discussed the issue last year during baseball season, when a request was received to sell beer at a fundraising tournament. At that time, the council learned that city ordinance did not allow alcohol sales on city property, although consumption of alcoholic beverages was allowed.

Osage City Council Member Ed Berends said he requested the discussion be put on the March 12 agenda because citizens had asked him about the issue. The upcoming Smoke in the Spring barbecue contest also added to the urgency that the city council take action, due to the long-standing tradition of the Lions Club serving alcohol in the recreation building during a Friday night dance and concert associated with the barbecue event.

Osage City attorney Rick Godderz confirmed that current ordinances did not allow the sale of alcohol on city events, but changes last year to state statutes allow the city to pass an ordinance to permit such sales.

It was noted that although city ordinances have not permitted the sale of alcohol on city property, the Lions have been diligent in the past in obtaining necessary state permits and insurance for their events.

“I think what has been done in the past is nobody has pushed the issue and our law enforcement has taken a look-the-other-way attitude,” Godderz said. “If you want to make it technically legal, then yes you need an ordinance to permit the sale of it – you don’t need an ordinance now if they consume.”

Osage City Manager Linda Jones said the city’s liability insurance also does not cover events at which alcohol was sold. Although city-sponsored events are covered under the city’s insurance, allowing outside groups to sell alcohol is not covered.

“If we were to pass an ordinance to let people sell out there … like Lions Club, there would be an extra cost for liability insurance, and they would have to get their own liability insurance,” Jones said.

She said discussions with the city’s insurance carrier indicated the city’s liability insurance premiums would increase $1,000-$1,200 per year if alcohol sales were allowed. An additional minimum of $650 per event would also be required.

Osage City Council Member Leroy Stromgren asked if it would be possible to allow the Lions Club to exchange drinks for tokens as has been done in the past.

“Instead of selling that beer for cash, why can’t they use tokens like everything else?” Stromgren asked.

Godderz replied, “It doesn’t matter whether it’s cash or token, you pay money for the token and you exchange the token for a drink, it’s still a sale.”

Osage City Mayor Quintin Robert clarified the situation, saying the council had “danced around” the issue long enough.

“If we want to have Smoke in the Spring and have the Lions Club sell alcohol as in the past, then we’ve got to have an ordinance,” Robert said.

Osage City Council Member Becky Brewer said she wanted an ordinance to be drawn up for review by the council.

Osage City Council Member Loren DeBaun agreed, saying, “In a hurry.”

Berends also supported an ordinance, which he said would protect the city and possibly save the city from legal expenses in the future.

“If we pay insurance, it may be cheaper in the long run,” Berends said.

During discussion of permits if such an ordinance is passed, Stromgren inquired if the city could recoup some of the costs of the additional insurance with permit fees.

“$1,000 for one event that we’re losing money on anyway, that’s just pouring money down the hole,” Stromgren said.

Council members indicated an agreement that permit fees should help cover the city’s costs, but the fees should remain reasonable.

Also on consensus, the council directed the city manager and city attorney to draft an ordinance and permit system to be reviewed for possible approval at the council’s March 26 meeting. Smoke in the Spring is scheduled for April 12-13.

Reporting on Smoke in the Spring, the city’s recreation director, Corey Linton, announced that Osage City will be in the national spotlight during the event, as a production company will be filming an episode of the television show BBQ Pitmasters, which follows barbecue cooks around the country as they compete in barbecue competitions.

In other business during the March 12 meeting, the council heard an update on USD 420’s bond issue project that includes construction of new sports facilities in Jones Park.

USD 420 Superintendent Troy Hutton and architect Gary Holler, of Shaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture, reported that a change had been made to plans for lockers rooms to be constructed next to the community building.

Holler said the main change is that the locker rooms and restrooms will be attached to the west side of community building, connected with a common vestibule.

Responding to question from Osage County Fair board member Ken Foth, Holler said that while construction of the facilities will be ongoing throughout the summer, with anticipated completion date by football season, the community building will be accessible for use during the fair scheduled for July 11-13. Holler said work on the community building will be the last part of the bond issue project, with plans for that building dependent upon the amount of funds available.

Holler also reported work on remodeling Osage City Elementary School will occur over the summer. He said all work bid on the project has come in under budget.

The council also heard a report about the city lake’s dam rehabilitation project from Bob Koopman, of Professional Engineering Consultants, P.A. He said a March 6 pre-bid conference had five contractors in attendance, with bids to be reviewed in April and construction to begin shortly afterward. The project will rehabilitate the existing concrete dam, add a stilling basin, and raise the freeboard. In addition, a sediment removal project will be occurring at the same time as the dam project.



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