Commonwealth Journal

December 17, 2013

City of Burnside tweaks alcohol laws

by Chris Harris
Commonwealth Journal

Burnside — Burnside held a couple of special meetings in the last few days designed to tighten up the city’s alcoholic beverage control laws.

On Friday, the Burnside City Council held the second reading of an ordinance (412.0A) that would require restaurants to update their technology to record transactions point-of-sale via a computerized system.

“This way you can track it rather than have it where someone just writes it down,” said Burnside Mayor Ron Jones. “Some of these restaurants, the waitress comes over and writes down o a ticket what you want. If you pay in cash, they can throw the ticket out the door and stick the money in their pocket.”

Of course, it’s the city’s own coffers that really stand to benefit, as keeping a fully accurate record of restaurant transactions makes sure the city gets all of the tax and fee money that it’s entitled to under city ordinance.

“The point-of-sale system gives a much better accounting system of what is sold and what is owed to the city,” said Jones. “It’s just like what you’ve got at McDonalds. You just go to the cash register, poke in ‘cheeseburger,’ and you’ve got it. It’s just an electronic system.”

It’s not that the city’s been getting short-changed at all, said Jones, but making point-of-sale uniform just simplifies things — most area restaurants already have it, he said.

“I think everything’s been done honorably,” said Jones. “It’s just that we’re moving on in to more and more (restaurants here), so it needs to be brought over to that type of sale.”

The implementation of point-of-sale had been discussed by the council in the past, but never made firm in law, according to Jones.

“We talked about it some, that we needed to have it and all, but when we got around to writing the ordinance, we needed it in there,” said Jones, “so we amended (the city’s alcohol ordinance) to reflect that).”

Bob Leidelmeijer, owner of Sully’s in Burnside, noted that these systems are already common, such as in his restaurant, and provide a much greater level of convenience in record-keeping.

“You can track everything on a moment’s notice,” he said. “We have stations located throughout the restaurant. I can swipe my card and determine the sales from moment to moment, who’s on overtime, who’s working. It helps from a security standpoint and an internal standpoint as well as a managerial standpoint.

“From a regulatory standpoint, it provides immediate date, so you don’t have to go through a bunch of receipts, people’s handwriting, losing receipts,” he added. “... It minimizes liability.”

Point-of-sale registers are likely to cost about $2,000 apiece, he noted, though they could be either leased or purchased. Cost for an upgrade would range “depending on how much info you want, from basic to elaborate systems,” said Leidelmeijer.

Also passed by the city council in a special Monday meeting was an amendment to the alcohol ordinance (Ordinance 412.0B) to adjust percentages of regulatory license fees on gross alcohol sales. Going by Somerset’s alcohol ordinance — in comparison to Danville’s, on which Somerset borrowed heavily, as ultimately did Burnside — numbers got lost in translation a little bit when changing alcohol laws to account for Burnside new “wet” status, noted Jones.

Originally, the city charged six percent on alcohol sales; that got changed to five percent in the alcohol ordinance passed back in November.

The amendment passed Monday changed that back to a six percent regulatory license fee.