Liquor license renewals usually get rubber-stamped as they pass through the Kenai City Council on their way to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. But Wednesday night was different.
The council decided to lodge protests against two renewal requests and deadlocked on a third.
The council protests are passed on to the ABCB, which, according to city attorney Carey Graves, gives them serious consideration.
The three protests -- one each for the New Peking Restaurant, Katmai Motel Restaurant and Lounge and Alaskalanes bowling alley -- all stemmed from back taxes, water and sewer bills or missed lease payments.
The council unanimously approved a protest to the New Peking and Alaskalanes renewals but could not come to agreement on the Katmai. Council member Bill Frazer, an insurance salesman, asked to be removed from the debate and vote because Katmai owner Jim Singree is a client of his. The council tied 3-3 on two separate motions regarding the Katmai.
Graves said the Katmai owed more than $7,000 for its lease and water and sewer payments, and that Singree has offered to make the payments over a nine-month period.
"In a previous repayment plan in 1997, he did repay despite some bumps in the road," Graves said.
"I anticipate a good season and hope to be current in six months," Singree said. "We're hanging on by our fingernails. We've had a bad four or five years, and our head is just above the water."
Mayor John Williams told the council that a remodeling of the Kenai Spur Highway was partially to blame for the Katmai's woes, as it nearly "shut down" the corner the motel and lounge sits on.
Three council members weren't buying that argument, though.
"I said before that I would not support any more deals on a liquor license," council member Jim Bookey said. "I stand by that."
Council member Linda Swarner agreed.
"I have a problem with a payment plan," she said. "It's not fair to those who pay on time."
Council member Duane Bannock said he saw it as a black-and-white issue and couldn't support it either.
However, council member Pat Porter wanted to give the Katmai another chance.
"I appreciate that Mr. Singree came before us," she said. "This is a business in our community, and it lived up to its promise before, and we should extend it again."
Williams warned that if the ABCB denies the Katmai its liquor license and it fails, the city might wind up with the lease.
"I dare say the last thing the city of Kenai wants is to own the Katmai Motel," he said.
Swarner called for a vote to send a letter of protest. She, Bookey and Bannock voted in favor of the letter, while Williams, Porter and council member Joe Moore voted against. Without four favorable votes, the motion failed.
Then Moore introduced a motion to accept the payment plan Singree suggested. It failed on the same vote as the previous motion. Since the council was deadlocked, the city will not send any comment to the ABCB and the Katmai liquor license most likely will be approved.
There was less debate on the Alaskalanes renewal protest. Graves said the company was behind more than $8,000 in taxes. Williams said the issue was different with Alaskalanes than it was with the Katmai.
"I see business taxes different than late lease payments," he said.
The council voted 7-0 to send a letter of protest. Graves said the liquor license probably will be denied.
In other council news:
n Without debate, the council raised all city salary levels and hourly wages by 1.5 percent;
n Thirty-four thousand dollars was appropriated to help pay for water and sewer line crossings of Redoubt Avenue and Forest Drive, which are due for rehabilitation this summer;
n Randy's Glass Inc. won a $13,824 contract to replace an overhead door at the Kenai Municipal Airport;
n A transfer of $10,800 was made from the airport's repair and maintenance fund to its professional services fund to pay Cache Barner Architects to provide interior design consultation for the airport terminal. The company will provide layout, design and color scheme recommendations;
n A fund transfer was made from the city shop travel and transportation fund to its professional services fund so training can be conducted on heavy equipment. Training on the equipment is normally done in Anchorage, and the training money was originally budgeted in the travel and transportation fund.
n Mike Baxter was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Commis-sion in the wake of Ron Yamamoto's resignation;
n Two sections of the Kenai municipal code dealing with peddlers and transient merchants were combined and simplified as part of the administrations plan to streamline city laws;
n Various sections of Titles 4 and 14 of the municipal code were amended for clarification and to correct inconsistencies. The titles deal with planning and zoning regulations.
The next council meeting is May 17.
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