The Statesboro City Council is planning to significantly change the structure and responsibilities of the Alcohol Control Board including the removal of their authority to recommend punishment for establishments cited for alcohol violations.
The council met in a work session Tuesday afternoon to discuss possible changes to the alcohol ordinances and other alcohol-related matters. At the top of the list was a reworking of the responsibilities and make-up of the ACB.
Foremost, the ACB will become an alcohol advisory committee, which will be charged with reviewing the ordinances, discussing alcohol-related issues and making recommendations to council about possible policy changes. Mayor Joe Brannen said much of the board's former duties could be handled by city staff, but there is still a need for community input.
“I do think we need a board with members that are representative of the city and the industry to perhaps meet on a quarterly basis to look and see what is happening and to see if they have any recommendations.” Brannen said. “I think it's also good to get input from the license holders.”
Some of the other proposed changes to the board include shifting the meeting schedule from monthly to quarterly, eliminating the requirement to have two sitting council members on the board, and handling license issuances and special permits requests administratively. If the proposed changes are passed by council, the seven-member advisory committee would have three license holders and four members selected from the community at-large.
In addition, alcohol license holders cited with an ordinance violation will no longer have to go before the board before facing the council for a similar hearing. Instead, punishments will be handed out administratively, according to the penalty guidelines outlined in the alcohol ordinance. The only time a license holder would face the council is if they wished to appeal their violation.
In the past, Councilman Will Britt said having an ACB hearing and a council hearing is an unnecessary layer of government that the license holders need to wade through, but said he is in full support of an advisory committee.
Currently, the ACB is inactive as there are too many vacancies on the board for it to achieve the necessary quorum. In addition, Mayor Brannen stepped down as chair of the board because the current alcohol ordinance stipulates that two councilmen sit on the board and, as mayor, he is no longer considered a councilman. Councilman Gary Lewis has stepped down as well.
All the proposed changes will be written up by city staff and presented to council for discussion and vote at a future meeting.