“I don’t think having an ID is going to keep an employee from selling to minors,” said ACC Chairman and City Commissioner Sue Lee. “The ends don’t justify the means, in my opinion.”
The board also is considering adding the option of a fine instead of a license-suspension for businesses where workers violate the law.
Member Mike Hyde said the guilty employee has usually been fired by the time of the suspension — but the inability to sell alcohol could affect the earnings of other workers in addition to overall sales.
“Everybody pays the penalty for one rogue employee,” he said.
Currently, restaurant servers and liquor store clerks must spend $25 each year for a sales permit that includes a background check by the Rome Police Department. ACC members initially thought to expand the requirement to anyone who rings up beer and wine.
Representatives from 11 local restaurants, grocery stores, package stores and convenience stores were invited to give input at a work session Wednesday, although only three showed up.
Steve VanMeter of Kroger, Keith Clark of the West Rome IGA and Bobby Winston of Rambo’s restaurant all said they see no evidence a permit deters underage sales, but it does add to costs.
“The grocery industry is not a large-profit industry,” Clark said. “(And) any time alcohol is scanned, the register system throws up a flag to check ID.”
The three indicated support of City Commissioner Buzz Wachsteter’s idea: substitute annual certifications by employers that they’ve done background checks on their workers and trained them in alcohol sales laws.
The board made no official decisions during a Wednesday work session, but members indicated they want to make some changes. Lee asked staffers to prepare reports for the Nov. 19 meeting.
Meanwhile, Monday’s regular meeting will include hearings for three restaurants — including the city-owned Stonebridge Golf Club — where servers were caught selling to minors in a Rome police sting operation.
The ACC meets at 5 p.m. in City Hall, 601 Broad St. All sessions are open to the public.