Sunday sales still uncertain

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont City Council tackled a heavy agenda Monday, covering issues including liquor store hours, conflict of interest and changing City Code to accommodate new business.

Each council member weighed in during discussion on whether to open the Fairmont Municipal Liquor Store on Sundays. Beginning in July, state law will allow for off-sale on Sunday.

Jim Zarling said the topic was not a huge issue in his ward, and he had only received two calls on the matter, with both opposed to opening. He added that the fact the city holds a monopoly on liquor sales might be enough of a reason to open.

Wayne Hasek was surprised how few people he has heard from about the matter. Only six weighed in, all in support of opening.

Bruce Peters said he had only heard negative comments about opening from three people.

“Why not give it a try?” Ruth Cyphers asked.

Tom Hawkins agreed.

“Let’s try it until the end of the year,” he said. He also advocated having an advisory board for the liquor store, similar to the city committees for park, safety, planning and utilities.

Mayor Debbie Foster contacted dozens of Fairmont residents, with the vast majority against Sunday hours.

City administrator Mike Humpal said deliberation will continue over the next several weeks as council members and city staff hear opinions.

“We are in the customer-service business in everything we do,” he said.

In another matter, the council approved a contract between the city and Councilwoman Cyphers limiting payment to her business, AdMfg. Inc., to $7,500 annually to keep their financial dealings above board. City Attorney Elizabeth Bloomquist said Cyphers has been proactive about the conflict of interest, which occurs when the city pays her business to print brochures for economic development, parks or other city boards.

In order to pave the way for new business, the council set two public hearings to include two different businesses, a concrete mixing businesses and a brew pub, in the City Code. If a particular business type is not mentioned in the code, that business is not allowed. The public hearings are set for May 22.

In other business, the council:

o Approved event permits for closure of First Street by the Blazer Bar for the Interlaken Heritage Days street dance on June 10, for the Fairmont Triathlon on June 10 and for a multi-block party, open to the public, at Veterans Park on May 24.

o Set a public hearing for May 22 on a code amendment updating the council meeting times. Since 1999, the council has met at 5:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays, but the code is inconsistent with these times.

o Heard a year-end report for 2016 on the aquatic park. About 25,600 patrons used the pool facilities in 2016. That’s 5,000 more than 2011. More than 500 students took swimming lessons, and the pool employed 83 seasonal staff members including lifeguards, concession stand staff and management team members.