Council split on ABC license, budgets

Published 10:19 pm Monday, October 3, 2011

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Members of the Pelham City Council shared differing opinions on the city’s budgets, and on granting a liquor license to a local bar and grill during a lengthy Oct. 3 meeting.

During the meeting, the council voted 3-2 in favor of tabling a motion to grant a lounge retail liquor license to McDuff’s Pub and Grill on Canyon Park Drive.

Council members Teresa Nichols, Steve Powell and Karyl Rice voted in favor of tabling the motion, and Council President Mike Dickens and Councilman Bill Meadows voted against.

The vote came after Pelham Police Chief Tommy Thomas told council members the liquor license applicant, Michael Overton, did not properly fill out the application when Overton submitted it to the police department. Powell also said Overton did not furnish a required certificate off occupancy in the application.

Overton indicated on the application he had been arrested in the past, but did not properly indicate in the application if he had been convicted of the charges, Thomas said.

“In Mr. Overton’s initial submission, the application is incomplete,” Thomas said. “If he had filled it out correctly, we would have known the disposition of his charges. It’s incorrect any way you look at it.”

However, Meadows said Overton attached a list and disposition of the charges on a separate sheet attached to the application.

“There is a lot of controversy and misinformation about this resolution. The paperwork attached is paperwork he wrote up with the ABC board,” Meadows said. “Unless we call a special meeting, (Overton) is out of business until the 17th.”

Powell said he voted in accordance with the law.

“I’m sorry the directions could not be followed. I’m a black-and-white guy when it comes to rules,” Powell said. “I swore an oath to uphold the law when I took this office. It’s nothing personal, it’s just a matter of law.”

Dickens said he voted against tabling the motion, but would have voted to deny the liquor license if it would have come to a vote.

Pelham Mayor Don Murphy said he may call a special meeting later in the week to vote on the license.

In other business, the council also voted to pass the city’s 2012 fiscal year general fund, Pelham Civic Complex, Pelham Racquet Club and Ballantrae Golf Club, sewer department and water department operating budgets, the city’s capital improvement budget and the water and sewer department’s capital improvement budgets.

Murphy said the city did not lay any employees off for the upcoming fiscal year, and said the “citizens are still getting all the same good services.”

The council voted 4-1 to approve the general fund, Civic Complex and Ballantrae operating budgets, with Meadows voting in opposition.

“I don’t want to be misinterpreted as wanting to run employees off, but I heard little in this budget how we can do more to serve the citizens of Pelham,” Meadows said. “I had concerns that we didn’t look at the realignment of duties, interoperability or staff reorganization.”

The council also voted 4-1 to pass the water and sewer department capital improvement budget, with Powell voting against, and 3-2 to pass the city’s capital improvement budget, with Powell and Rice voting against. The council unanimously approved the water and sewer department operating budget.

Powell said he voted against the capital improvement budgets because he felt some items included in the capital improvement budgets, such as new books for the city library, should have instead been funded in the operating budgets.