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Currently, three city commissioners and three residents serve on the committee tasked with overseeing licenses and permits for alcohol sales.
“I’m satisfied with what we have now,” said City Commissioner and ACC member Milton Slack III. “Even though sometimes we get batted around, it does work.”
Other members are City Commissioners Jamie Doss, who chairs the ACC, and Wright Bagby Jr. and citizen-appointees Julia Dent, George Kastanias and Jane Slickman.
Bagby said city residents expect some elected officials to sit on the board, which also holds hearings and recommends penalties when a licensee violates the alcohol ordinance.
“It’s an important function for the city,” he said during Monday’s ACC meeting.
The discussion follows a December dust-up in which the Rome City Commission split on penalties recommended by the ACC against five restaurants caught selling to minors in a state sting operation.
No consensus was reached during the three-hour debate and the restaurants all escaped without sanction.
Two bones of contention emerged during the City Commission’s annual planning retreat in February: The ACC’s authority and the fairness of its penalty guidelines.
A first offense of underage sales, for example, could net the licensee anything from a letter of warning to a three-day suspension. Repeated offenses could result in penalties as high as a 10-day suspension or revocation of the license.
Doss said having guidelines rather than set penalties allows the ACC to take the individual circumstances into account.
He also said the committee’s recommendations should be accorded more consideration, since members delve deeply into each case that comes before them.
“The ACC was, to some extent, thrown under the bus (in December),” he said. “And if the Rome City Commission consistently changes the recommendations, it looks like the ACC doesn’t have a lot of credibility.”
City Commissioners on the ACC were asked during the retreat to canvass other committee members regarding potential operational changes. Slickman had no comments and Kastanias and Dent were absent Monday.