Augusta Commission gives final approval to Sunday package alcohol sales

Augusta Commission approves ordinance

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 9:21 PM
Last updated Thursday, March 29, 2012 1:30 AM
  • Follow Government

Sunday retail alcohol sales got the go-ahead Wednesday when the Augusta Commission approved, with a 7-2 vote, the second reading of an ordinance making the sales legal under existing retailer licenses.

Starting Sunday, consumers can legally purchase packaged alcoholic beverages at any retailer already permitted to do so the rest of the week – including liquor stores, which previously weren’t allowed to be open Sundays.

Commissioner Bill Lockett, who voted against a first reading of the ordinance last week, was joined this week by Commissioner Alvin Mason. Commissioner J.R. Hatney, who typically abstains from all alcohol-related agenda items, was absent Wednesday.

Before the vote on Sunday sales, Mason drilled Licensing and Inspections Director Rob Sherman about how much revenue the city might be losing by not charging retailers an additional fee to sell on Sundays, as it does restaurants that hold Sunday sales permits.

At $1,333 each, the price of a restaurant Sunday sales license, Sherman said the city could stand to gain some $260,000 in new revenue by charging Augusta’s 200 retailers the same amount.

“A quarter of a million dollars thrown away,” Mason said.

Sherman said the restaurant licenses were considered a regulatory fee under state law, as they require restaurants to maintain 50 percent of their sales to be food to be eligible to sell, while the retailers won’t require additional regulation or work on the city’s part when they opt to sell alcohol.

THE SUNDAY SALES vote prompted far less commission discussion than did a vote on whether to hire Mauldin & Jenkins to replace Cher­ry, Bekaert & Holland as the city’s external auditor.

With performance of the annual external audit required by state law, not hiring an auditor jeopardized all state funding, Finance Director Donna Williams said after a first vote to begin contract negotiations with Mauldin & Jenkins, the Macon, Ga.-based regional accounting firm, failed.

Several commissioners questioned why bid price and the firms’ hometowns weren’t considered by the selection committee that recommended Mauldin & Jenkins perform the audit.

“To say that a local company is not going to perform as well as an out-of-town company is a slap in the face” to local accounting firms, Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles said.

“It’s the perception that something is going on, that something is not right” with the city’s finances, Lockett said.

According to its Web site, Cherry, Bekaert & Holland has offices in five Southern states, including an office in Augusta. Mauldin previously had an Augusta office, while the third qualified bidder, Serotta Maddocks Evans, is headquartered in Augusta.

Procurement Director Geri Sams handed commissioners the city procurement code sections specifying that contracts greater than $100,000 are beyond the reach of Augusta’s local vendor preference requirement and that price isn’t a factor to be considered until after a firm is chosen.

More than a year ago, Lockett raised the question of why Cherry had been the city’s auditor for 13 years, prompting a commission directive to put the service out for proposals.

By the time a choice reached commissioners Wednesday, however, time was running out for the audit report due the state later this year.

Williams took responsibility during an earlier meeting of the commission’s Pension and Audit Committee for not providing procurement technical specifications for a request for proposals until earlier this year.

According to a bid tabulation sheet, all three firms scored between 94.3 and 97.4 points out of 100, with Cherry scoring highest with the selection committee.

While the other firm’s price estimates haven’t been opened, according to procurement procedures, Mauldin’s proposal gave a maximum 2011 audit price of $185,000, excluding preparation of a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report or separate reports for individual government units.

ALSO HOTLY DEBATED Wednes­day was the commission’s 6-3 decision for staff to present a negotiated contract with human resources outsourcing firm Automatic Data Processing, which has an Augusta call center.

The move defied a recent commission retreat decision to hire consultant Malik Watkins to evaluate the city HR department.

“I knew before we came into session that this was a done deal,” said Lockett, who was joined by Mason and Commissioner Corey Johnson in opposing the measure.

Bowles said he was floored when ADP, which already handles some city benefits, reported that city HR staff tried to have the city to pay for an employee’s court-ordered alimony payment for health benefits to an ex-spouse.

“I can’t sit by and watch illegal activity be conducted,” Bowles said.

Comments (7) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
RoadkiII
6787
Points
RoadkiII 03/29/12 - 04:49 am
0
0
Did a RC Commissioner say he

Did a RC Commissioner say he was concerned about throwing away 1/4 million dollars?!?! That's a first. Or is it just the fact it won't be going in his pocket?

nothin2show4it
120
Points
nothin2show4it 03/29/12 - 05:26 am
0
0
Hatney not there? What a
Unpublished

Hatney not there? What a wus. If he had a job and did this he would likely be fired. Maybe his district should find someone else to vote for.

wribbs
452
Points
wribbs 03/29/12 - 05:57 am
1
0
“A quarter of a million

“A quarter of a million dollars thrown away,” Mason said.

Only a politician would consider letting a business keep more of the money IT EARNED throwing it away.

nanowerx
1334
Points
nanowerx 03/29/12 - 07:55 am
0
0
It's pretty sad when a vote

It's pretty sad when a vote for the personal choice of purchasing alcohol on Sunday came down to money and not simply because...oh I don't know, it's the right thing to do if we want to keep claiming free rights and liberty.

Little Lamb
47284
Points
Little Lamb 03/29/12 - 08:19 am
0
0
Susan McCord

Susan McCord wrote:

Procurement Director Geri Sams handed commissioners the city procurement code sections specifying that contracts greater than $100,000 are beyond the reach of Augusta’s local vendor preference requirement and that price isn’t a factor to be considered until after a firm is chosen.

Huh?

Didn't Judge Carlisle Overstreet make a ruling from the bench that state law required the city to take the low bidder?

Little Lamb
47284
Points
Little Lamb 03/29/12 - 08:27 am
0
0
Susan McCord wrote: With

Susan McCord wrote:

With performance of the annual external audit required by state law, not hiring an auditor jeopardized all state funding, Finance Director Donna Williams said after a first vote to begin contract negotiations with Mauldin & Jenkins, the Macon, Ga.-based regional accounting firm, failed. . . . Williams took responsibility during an earlier meeting of the commission’s Pension and Audit Committee for not providing procurement technical specifications for a request for proposals until earlier this year.

Do you think Fred (What, me worry?) Russell cares enough to put a letter of reprimand in Donna Williams’ file for failure to perform a job duty?

Change of subject. The quote above says that a first vote on a motion to hire the Macon firm failed. But I didn't see anything about a second vote. Did they hire an accounting firm last night? Or did they just kick the can down the road?

Little Lamb
47284
Points
Little Lamb 03/29/12 - 08:34 am
0
0
Regarding the HR outsourcing

Regarding the HR outsourcing to ADP I had several thoughts:

Mayor pro-tempore Joe Bowles said he was floored when ADP, which already handles some city benefits, reported that city HR staff tried to have the city to pay for an employee’s court-ordered alimony payment for health benefits to an ex-spouse. “I can’t sit by and watch illegal activity be conducted,” Bowles said.

1. The employee knew that the city paid for gastric bypass surgery for a city employee.

2. The city employee figured you don't get if you don't ask.

3. The HR staff takes the path of least resistance and rubber stamps their co-workers’ requests.

Little Lamb
47284
Points
Little Lamb 03/29/12 - 08:51 am
0
0
If you read this article in

If you read this article in its entirety you come to the conclusion that the city should take the low bidder.

Overstreet vs. Sams

But I'm sure Geri Sams will come up with a bureaucratic reasoning as to why she doesn't have to follow state law. After all, the city commission said they didn't have to follow state law that expressly requires consolidated governments to hold their commission and mayoral elections in July.

wondersnevercease
9218
Points
wondersnevercease 03/29/12 - 09:55 am
0
0
Sams is a perfect example of
Unpublished

Sams is a perfect example of what not to have in a city employee....she should have been fired years ago....she has cost your City hundreds of thousands of dollars due to her racist attitude toward bids....

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs