Matt Lasley | GC News-Gazette The Leitchfield City Council on Tuesday night cast votes on whether to amend the city's alcoholic beverage control ordinance to permit the sale of alcoholic beverages during polling hours on election days.

Matt Lasley | GC News-Gazette

The Leitchfield City Council on Tuesday night cast votes on whether to amend the city's alcoholic beverage control ordinance to permit the sale of alcoholic beverages during polling hours on election days.

The Leitchfield City Council voted on Tuesday to amend the city's alcoholic beverage control ordinance to permit the sale of alcoholic beverages during polling hours on election days.

The decision followed a written request, submitted to the city via email in July by Twin Lakes Liquors owner James Conder, that the ordinance be changed following the state's decision to permit wet communities to make their own decision as to whether alcohol may be sold while polls are open on election days.

Currently, the city's alcoholic beverage control ordinance does not permit these beverages to be sold during polling hours or from 12 a.m. until 12 p.m. on Sundays.

In his email, Conder writes that prohibiting alcohol from being sold until polls close on election days "is antiquated and doesn't make sense. Very few jurisdictions in the state still have this ordinance/law on their books. Most cities and counties realize that there are lots of (tax) dollars potentially lost to surrounding communities ... when this ordinance is in effect."

Action on this subject was delayed until this week to allow time for the city councilmembers to consider it.

The discussion opened Tuesday night with a letter from local business owners Karen and Roy Smith, which was read by Leitchfield resident Ann Huff.

In the letter, the Smiths ask the City Council to not amend the alcoholic beverage control ordinance, stating there are enough issues to deal with without adding to them by permitting alcohol sales before polls close. Huff told the council she is opposed to amending the ordinance as well, and said that any councilmember who voted in favor of amending the ordinance would not receive a vote from her in the upcoming November election.

City Councilmember Raymond "Tooty" Cottrell, in response to Huff, asked what the difference is in buying alcoholic beverages on election days as opposed to doing so the day before.

"You're eroding our rights to be against something," Huff said, adding that the prohibition of the sale of alcoholic beverages on election days had been a law for a long time.

Also responding to Huff, City Councilmember Kelly Stevenson said the citizens of Leitchfield have already cast votes on the issue of alcohol sales in the city — referring to the local option election from a number of years ago that converted Leitchfield from a dry to a wet community — and he does not support restricting a legal business from selling a legal product.

City Councilmember Harold Miller said he understands and respects Huff's values, citing the city's decision to restrict the sale of alcoholic beverages for a 12-hour period on Sundays, but the city councilmembers ultimately vote based on what they feel will benefit the city the most, and to prohibit businesess from selling alcoholic beverages on election days causes them a loss in profits.

"It's a new day and time," Miller said. "Alcohol is legal in the city of Leitchfield."

Following discussion, the councilmembers cast their votes on the issue. Four (Cottrell, Margaret Fey, Miller, and Stevenson) voted in favor of having the ordinance amended to permit the sale of alcoholic beverages during polling hours; one (Margie Decker) voted against amending the ordinance; and one (Rick Embry) did not vote.

Embry said he chose not to vote Monday because he had previously stated he would not consider a vote on the issue until after the Nov. 6 election so the decision would not burden the new mayor and City Council with a decision based on the opinion of the current council.

The first reading of the amended alcoholic beverage control ordinance is expected to be held at the next Leitchfield City Council meeting on Sept. 17. The ordinance amendment will not be adopted until it has been read and approved twice.

In other business, the City Council:

*Voted to move forward with 4 percent increase in revenue from this year's property tax rates, and approved the first reading of the 2018 Leitchfield property tax rate ordinance.

If the second reading of the ordinance is approved, the real property tax rate will increase from 12.2 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to 13.3 cents per $100 of valuation, and the personal property rate will decrease from 19.72 cents per $100 of valuation to 17.61 cents per $100 of valuation. The motor vehicle tax rate will remain 12 cents per $100 of valuation.

For 2018, the city has assessed approximately $267,396,014 in property values. The tax rates with resulting in a 4 percent revenue increase are estimated to bring the city $483,849 in revenue, which is $49,098 more than in 2017.

The second reading of the property tax rate ordinance is expected to be held at the next City Council meeting on Sept. 17.

*Opened the sole bid for city owned property at 117 Cave Mill Road from Jerry Vincent for $6,000.

Leitchfield Mayor William Thomason said the property was originally purchased for $10,000, and the City Council voted to offer Vincent the property for $8,000. If Vincent declines this offer, the city discussed advertising for more bids for the property.

*Recognized recently retired Leitchfield Public Works employees Jerry Decker and Mike Cripps for their many years of service to the city.

*Heard updates on the city playgrounds as provided by interim Parks and Recreation Director Tammee Saltsman.

Saltsman said Public Works has removed the play structure and swing set and James D. Beville Community Park, and Parks and Recreation is working on the bid specifications for a new structure.

As for B.G. Dewitt Park, the City Council voted to approve a quote from Miracle for a new merry-go-round for a total cost of $4,629.

Lastly, Saltsman said, mulch has been delivered to be spread at Firefighter's Memorial Park, and this work was expected to be done this week.

*Appointed Scotty Hawkins and Jeremy Woosley to represent the Little League and Softball boards on the committee to hire a new Leitchfield Parks and Recreation Director.