Funding formula cut from liquor ordinance

The Blountsville Town Council voted 3-2 Monday night to remove a funding formula addendum from the ordinance regulating sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages within the town.

Council member Kenny Mullins, who made the motion to remove, suspend, or eliminate the addendum, said the proper description of the council’s action was that they voted to “put on hold” the funding formula until tax revenues are actually received and the council knows how much money they have to work with. A figure of $150,000 annually has been used as a rough estimate of likely proceeds.

“We just suspended the distribution system until funds are actually in place, and then we’ll come up with an appropriate distribution formula,” Mullins said. “It could be the same as the formula in the addendum, or it might be different.”

Voting in favor of the motion to “put on hold” were council members Kenny Mullins, Larry Newman, and Barry Smith. Voting against the motion were council members Dennis Beavers and Dicey Childers.

Efforts to obtain a copy of the actual motion from city hall to assist in writing this article were unsuccessful.

The ordinance itself, modeled on a similar one developed by Oneonta, was originally passed in January this year. The formula, an addendum to the ordinance, was developed by council member Dennis Beavers and detailed a specific allocation of tax proceeds from alcohol sales, as follows:

40 percent – for street improvements, park paving, and matching money for grants benefitting citizens of the town

25 percent – for maintenance of parks, purchase of playground equipment or improvement of other public property, including the library

25 percent – to help fund faculty position( s) for a fine arts department at Blountsville schools to teach fine arts or to promote academics

10 percent – for economic/industrial development in Blountsville.

Mullins said council members are not opposed to allocating money to the schools and parks, but added that the formula makes no provision for fire, police, or the town’s general fund. He also observed that the money for schools specified a definite use for funds, namely to create a fine arts program.

“The school itself might know better than the town council where their greatest needs are. We don’t need to tell the school how to use the money,” he said.

Beavers said the action by the counsel was improper if not illegal.

“You’ve got to have unanimous consent of the council to take up a matter pertaining to an ordinance if you’re going to do it in the same meeting. That’s according to the League of Municipalities. We didn’t do that,” he said.

“It was all peace in the valley when we initially passed the funding formula. Now, they don’t like my formula, so they voted to dump all the money into the general fund where it will be absorbed by the city departments, and the people will see no improvements from the revenue increase,” he said.

“The purpose of the formula is simple,” Beavers said. “It’s to address infrastructure deterioration in parks and playgrounds that should have been fixed years ago, Also, we’ve got a library we have to maintain. And we need to be offering more electives in the schools, more opportunities and outlets in the arts and academics for the children who are not interested in cheerleading, football, or the band. A quarter of our children are not involved in those things. What about those kids?” he asked.