Businesses react to Neosho liquor license ordinance

Businesses react to Neosho liquor license ordinance
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Businesses in Neosho, MO are weighing in on a proposal calling for stricter enforcement of the city’s liquor license ordinance.

In recent weeks, Neosho’s city council has focused on the ordinance which punishes businesses and employees that sell alcohol to minors.

While there is large support for stricter enforcement, some businesses have mixed feelings on any changes.

Oak Tree Mart sells quite a bit of liquor, and it’s proud of the fact that its never failed a sting.

“ID, ID, ID. If you do not have an ID, we do not sell,” said Megan Plemmons, a manager at Oak Tree Mart.

That mantra protects the convenience store and its employees who, under current city ordinance, face serious consequences for failing a check.

“It’s a progressive penalty. It goes from a written warning to suspension of their license for up to a year for repeated violations within a certain time period,” explained Neosho City Manager, Leland Butcher.

The ordinance took effect last November and, so far, is being supported unanimously by council members who are looking for ways to potentially strengthen enforcement through technology.

“Like, if you go to Walmart, you have to scan your ID to get alcohol, or if you dont have your ID, someone has to physically look at your ID and put it in…a system like that, that way it would be a system failure instead of an employee failure, just things to possibly strengthen the ordinance,” said Butcher.

While ideas are being tossed around, some businesses are hoping things stay the same.

“It’s good the way it is right now, you know. I mean, we know what we have to do. We know we don’t sell alcohol to underage people,” said Maria Salinas, a server at El Caballo de Oro.

Butcher says the city will uphold whatever council members decide, but businesses say they know their responsibility either way.

“It’s really important, you know, so…they won’t get in trouble and we won’t get problems too,” said Salinas.

“You have to card. You have to ID. You have to know your customers, and you have to know your community,” said Plemmons.

Back in 2016, a total of four businesses failed the check. That number grew in 2017 when a total of nine failed, four during the first check, and five the second.

Neosho currently has 25 businesses with a liquor license.

Ordinance details:

Under the ordinance, the first time a business failed an alcohol compliance check, it would receive a written warning from the licensing clerk.

On the second offense, within a 30-month period, the liquor license would be suspended for three days.

If a third offense took place within 18 months after the second offense, the license would be be suspended for one month.

If a fourth offense took place within six months of the third offense, the license would be suspended for one year.

In the event that a license is suspended, the business may seek a hearing before the city manager and request restoration of its liquor license.