Look for change to special events liquor licenses

By: 
DARRELL JACKSON, Staff Writer

When a charitable or nonprofit is holding a fundraiser in the city and wants to raise money by selling liquor, the process is about to get a lot easier for the approval of temporary special event liquor licenses.
If council approves the changes to the licensing process during its June 26 meeting, applicants will no longer have to go to a council voting meeting for final approval. Final approval could be done by Director of Budget and Finance Vicki Rios.
“Currently, when a charitable organization is doing an event, we get a request in budget and finance and the license request is reviewed by police, fire, planning and zoning and if approved, it has to be placed on a voting agenda and that takes the most time,” Rios said during the June 12 workshop. “This would basically make it so one person can make final approval after all the reviews are completed.”
In April, Gov. Doug Ducey signed into legislation HB2334, which amended Article 4 of the Arizona Revised Statutes regarding liquor licensing and allowed a single person to be granted final authority to approve or deny the applications.
After discussion of the changes, Mayor Jerry Weiers requested his office have final approval of the licenses, but was rebuffed by fellow councilmembers after Rios added that the city has never denied a special events liquor license request.
“I am comfortable with all of this except for one thing: I would ask council to entertain final approval come through my office and my reason why is there is rarely a time when people call us trying to speed this up and we try to accommodate them,” Weiers said. “We usually bend over backwards to accommodate them and do what we can.”
Yucca District Councilmember Joyce Clark was first to deny the mayor’s request for final approval and tried to push for council to continue to have final approval of the license requests.
“I am not comfortable with another piece slipping away from council,” Clark said. “As to final approval going to the Mayor’s Office, not sure I am comfortable with that. No problem with the Mayor’s Office having an adviser part of the process, but I think it would be better off as an administrative function other than final approval.”
Special event liquor license applications, after review by the multiple departments, currently must be placed on the consent agenda for the council to consider and have final approval. That process can take up to six weeks for final approval by council and the change would lower that time to two weeks for approval by Rios.
Staff told council that designating the ability to approve special event liquor licenses would streamline the application process and the Arizona Department of Liquor Licensing and Control has recommended that cities and towns adopt the streamlined process.
“Our role as councilmembers and elected officials is to work with staff and make jobs more efficient and help them be proficient and provide a higher level of customer service,” Ocotillo District Councilmember Jamie Aldama said. “This tool provides staff the ability to be more efficient from 45 to 60 days to about two weeks for final approval and I think it is appropriate for better service that we should adopt this idea.”

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