The Ottumwa Courier

April 3, 2013

Downtown businesses receive liquor licenses despite protest

CHELSEA DAVIS
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — One citizen’s protests to beer and liquor licenses for two downtown establishments did not succeed in convincing the City Council to not award them.

Beer and liquor applications for Snobby’s Night Club, 305 E. Main St., and Brickhouse Grill, 536 E. Main St., were unanimously approved at the City Council’s meeting Tuesday night despite four main standpoints from Matt Pringle: community, safety, moral and biblical.

“Ottumwa is trying to make improvements in the downtown Main Street area,” Pringle said. “Any night club — certainly mixed with alcohol — will not be an improvement to the community. Never has been; never will be.”

He also said that deaths and injuries due to drunken driving accidents are skyrocketing.

“I am not sure how any local official can approve the abuse of alcohol,” he said. “Drinking always leads to drunkenness. Drunkenness always leads to fights, disturbing the peace of the community, immorality, broken families, murder from behind a steering wheel and numerous other negative consequences. Drunkenness never produces positive results.”

Pringle also cited several Bible verses to support his point.

City Attorney Joni Keith said the state has not yet issued the licenses and the local fire and police departments have not yet done their required inspections.

“If those come back with the recommendation that yes, we approve them, then this stands,” she said. “If it comes back that they would not recommend approval, it’s back to you [the council].”

Councilman Brian Morgan also said that if the council were to deny the applications, the establishment owners could appeal to the state “and the state would give them the licenses because they have no reason to not give them a license.”

Keith agreed, saying the council has to have a “specific, articulable reason” to deny the licenses.

Larry Burger, vice president of Speer Financial Inc., brought the council some good financial news.

“Usually I come before the council saying you’ve had a fantastic day in the market,” Burger said. “I don’t know if you’re ever going to get any better than this one.”

The city received six bids for its sale of $4,365,000 general obligation bonds, which will be used to finance the majority of the approved 2013 Capital Improvement Projects. They accepted the lowest bid of less than $4.36 million at an interest rate of 0.7596 percent.

“In my 20 years, this is one of the lowest interest rates I’ve ever seen,” he said.

The city also retained its Moody’s Investors Service rating of A1.

“That’s top of the chart,” he said. “This is to the credit of the administrative staff of the city and that the general fund balance totaled $2.9 million, a healthy 23 percent of revenues. The goal of Moody’s is 25 percent. I caution you to always keep the cash balances high for that rating due to the fact that they love cash. Moody’s loves cash."

Moody’s also liked the fact that 90 percent of the city’s bonds will be retired within 10 years, he said.

The council also approved the sale of $870,000 general obligation bonds, which will be used to finance the balance of the 2013 CIP.