By the slimmest of margins, the city of Benton has increased its number of class B (package liquor) licenses.
City Attorney Tom Malkovich explained the city has reached the maximum number of licenses (six) allowed by the current ordinance.
"If you're going to bring in other businesses … a lot of places want to sell package liquor. There's been some inquiries made to the city about that. You've got businesses in town that are inquiring and if you're going to try to draw more businesses … if they're going to come to town traditionally that's part of their sales," he said.
"In the past you've had issues about taverns or gaming. That is not the issue here. This is simply to sell to someone who wants a bottle of wine for dinner or a 12-pack for a ballgame when they're at the store or pharmacy," he added. "You've got folks calling, and it's hard to tell them we don't want you to come in with 20 new jobs because we don't have that license."
Commissioner Don Wyant said the city should be trying to look at other types of employment "besides trying to get a business to sell a bottle of beer. You've got enough of them already."
Donald Storey made the motion to increase the number of licenses to nine. It was seconded by Dennis Miller. Mayor Fred Kondritz also voted in favor of the motion. Wyant and Ronnie Baumgarte voted "no" on the motion.
Kondritz said that as the city's liquor commissioner, he has been in talks with possible business owners.
"I'm confident they will be coming in here, but this question is what they ask me. The employment status of a grocery store or franchise, drug store or pharmacy, they do employ 20 to 25 people. It's a strategic plan to have a package liquor license to get them to come here," Kondritz said. "People can go across the line and build in West City and it's not even a question. The grocery store does not make tremendous sales off alcohol, but they have it there as a convenience item. That's the reason pharmacies and grocery stores want package liquor sales."
Re-appointed to serve on the Benton Zoning and Planning Commission were: Garrett Collier, Victor Shockley, Kyle Neal and Adena Bowlin.
The city also scheduled the dates of Oct. 27 for the annual Fall Fest and Dec. 1 for the Festival of Lights.