The Springfield City Council approved the first two liquor licenses in the city pending all administrative processes be completed appropriately.
El Ranchito and Kelly’s Tavern applied for the licenses. According to the liquor ordinance, the city and applicant have two weeks to complete all of the administrative work and to make sure the applications are filled out correctly.
Council member Kenny Usher asked if the council should approve the license before all of the paperwork is properly completed.
City Clerk Gaye Paquet said the council would not be giving final approval but approval pending the completion.
City Manager Brett Bennett said when the ordinance was being worked out it was written to allow the council to give approval, but the license not be issued until all requirements have been met.
Paquet said it is not required to have the background check done prior to council approval, but Police Chief Paul Wynn had completed that work on Tuesday.
Council member Butch Kieffer asked if there had been any issues with either restaurant since both have licenses to serve beer and wine.
Bennett said neither have had any problems.
The council also discussed the possibility of a creation of a countywide water and sewer commission.
Mayor Barton Alderman said there was information presented about having a feasibility study for a water and sewer committee at the quarterly elected officials meeting.
Alderman said he was appointed a couple years ago to the committee that is looking at this, and the idea originated then for a countywide non-taxing unit.
“I’ve been on this now for two years, and I have more questions now than I did two years ago,” Alderman said.
He said his questions include how the systems in place that have already been paid for will be handled and the protection of fee payment for residents of the city.
“You know what our rates are for groundwater versus what the county pays for surface water,” Alderman said. “Our people have already paid for their well and paid for their pipes and everything. I have a hard time trying to rationalize different fees.”
Kieffer asked if there was a distinct difference between a commission and an authority.
Alderman said an authority would have “taxing powers” and would be “legislatively appointed.” He said he doesn’t believe anyone wants an authority.
“I see two main benefits to this thing,” Alderman said. “One is we’ve been hearing for the last year or so that EPD is going to push everybody into a regional water council. They haven’t decided how they want to do it.”
He said there have been discussions that would create regional water councils and discussions that suggest water councils based on river basins.
“That’s one of the advantages I can see to this,” Alderman said. “If we get put in a regional water council, and a commission or a board is going to have a heck of a lot more clout than just the city of Springfield.”
He said he didn’t know if that would be enough to spur the creation of a water commission.
Alderman said the committee is very preliminary, and the next step would be a feasibility study, but the group does not have funding. The next question is for the municipalities and the county to decide if they are willing to move forward and provide money for the study.
The council approved moving forward to determine the feasibility of a water and sewer committee.
Alderman said he asked if population would determine the funding, but the current thought is each city and the county would be equally represented with one member at large as a tiebreaker, and therefore each entity should contribute equally.
“I think this is something we need to go along with, but I don’t think it needs to be Rincon, Springfield and the county. I don’t think it needs to be the three municipalities as far as I’m concerned. It needs to be all four or nothing,” Alderman said.
Council member Charles Hinely said there is a need for a group to help all the entities come to an agreement on how to handle water and sewer in the county.
“It’s worth it even if we have to cough up $20,000, it’s worth it,” he said.
Alderman said at the next meeting all four entities are supposed to come back to see if each governing body is willing to commit. Alderman asked for the feelings of the council.
“Anyone who’s been involved in water and sewer in the county over the years knows there have been wars between the county and the municipalities over who’s going to serve what area,” he said. “This would eliminate competition.”
Kieffer said it would be amazing how much it could have saved the taxpayers had a committee been formed 10 years ago.