Proposed Alcohol Rules Causing Some Heat

JANUARY 4, 2007 -- POSTED AT 8:30 P.M. CST

JONESBORO, AR -- As if serving alcohol in Jonesboro wasn't tough enough, now local law enforcement wants to tighten the rules for those clubs that are allowed to serve. And as you might imagine, the new proposed alcohol regulations have caused quite a stir.

Doug Mathis sits on the board of trustees at The Eagles, one of the 12 clubs currently serving alcohol in Jonesboro. He says he'd like to hear an explanation for some of these new rules. For instance, one of the proposed regulations would require all businesses to stop serving alcohol at 2 A.M.

"Our license says we can stay open till five o'clock. We're trying to provide a service for the local people here. A lot of them like to party late at night and we're trying to do that for the citizens of Jonesboro," says Mathis, with the Fraternal Order of the Eagles.

But Police Chief Michael Yates who is pushing for these new city regulations says other club owners are behind the mandatory 2 A.M. cutoff.

Another regulation that's got some feathers ruffled at The Eagles deals with required background checks.

"They want our employees registered with the city and to have them wear an identification card while they're employed here and stuff like that. I don't understand the reasoning behind that," says Mathis.

According to Chief Yates, the regulations would require background checks for all employees serving and pouring alcohol.

The third hot item on the books is the proposed five percent sales tax from the gross receipt sales of alcohol. But Mathis says they already pay a state alcohol tax and he doesn't see the need for another.

"They've added the five percent on top of the three percent that the city's already receiving from the state that we have to pay in on alcohol tax right now," says Mathis.

Because of the expected opposition, Mathis says he feels this resolution is being pushed through the council on a fast track, when a possible compromise could be reached.

"Maybe give everybody time to let this soak in and see what it's going to do. Get both sides together and maybe we can come to a good resolution on this thing," says Mathis.

K8 News tried to contact The Mallard and Club Red to get their thoughts on the proposed regulations, but both declined to comment. The council will meet again on January 16th to discuss possibly adopting this proposed ordinance.