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Special events public drinking ordinance fails
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The Porterdale City Council voted against an ordinance at a special called meeting Thursday that would have allowed restaurants with city serving permits to serve alcoholic beverages in publicly designated areas during city-sponsored festivals and events.

The ordinance would have benefited only two businesses in the city and new ordinances would have to be drafted for subsequent businesses and events.

Council member Linda Finger originally proposed the ordinance, but after she discussed the details of the ordinance with Porterdale Bar and Grill owners, they decided not to pursue the license any longer.

"When I first proposed this ordinance, it was meant to boost Porterdale businesses," Finger said. "It wasn’t to entice other businesses to come to Porterdale to do this, nor was it to have drunken brawls on the street, but to help businesses we already have to survive.

"All this time and effort later, the only business in town that might have done this now doesn’t want to," Finger said. "After the application process, permit fees, extra insurance and securing barriers, they would have to set up table and chairs, beer stands and serve food. After all of these costs, there’s simply no profit in it for the businesses… If I was running a business and saw the number of permits and regulations and cost of set up, I would not want to do it either," she said.

The council agreed to file the ordinance for the time being.

• The council also discussed its 2010 amended budget. City Manager Bob Thomson proposed a rate increase of water, sewer and sanitation for the current fiscal year. The rate increases, along with the millage rate increase, are expected to help alleviate the estimated budget deficit of $103,617.22.

The proposed increases, based on an average minimum use of 3,000 gallons a month, would be water — 19.80, up from $17.25; and sewer — 21.81, up from $18.99.

The council also continued to discuss raising the millage rate to 17.518, up from the current 9.156, to cover the shortfall resulting from a larger than expected 32.27 percent drop in the tax digest.

The city is also looking into different solutions to reduce the number of penalties the city has accrued due to late and unpaid payments from residents.

"They keep upping the ante and we’re left with no choice but to do the same," said Councilwoman Arline Chapman, expressing concern with all of the rate hikes the city was facing.

The council will hold three public hearings about the millage rate and approve the revised rate at their July 12 meeting.

• The council followed up with code enforcement officers to discuss their efforts to improve rundown residences in the city. So far, landlords are complying with the code 90 percent of the time, though there are some that have not adhered to the warnings issued.

Currently the city ordinance restricts code enforcement officers to issue warnings to residents with unkempt yards. Each violation is considered a separate incident, therefore preventing any actual citations from being issued. The council is considering consolidating violations to allow for citations, which could result in fines.

• This year’s July Fourth celebration is expected to include $12,000 worth of fireworks, thanks to the fundraising efforts of one of the town’s events committee. Last year, Newton County decided it could not fund its 50 percent share of the annual fireworks show on July Fourth and the city of Covington, who in the past has split the cost with the county, voted not to fund the entire show itself. Porterdale filled in and raised more than $9,000, and will have a larger display this year.