Rossville City Council, during its regular monthly meeting Monday night, unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that will give the city the authority to close a business while the matter is in court. The ordinance permits a business owner to appeal the business license suspension to the council and then to Walker County Superior Court.
City residents Bob Floyd and Ed Kovak said they worried that an innocent business owner whose business license was suspended might face severe financial hardship or lose the business during the time it takes the matter to be resolved in court. Some cases could drag on for months or years, Kovak said.
There’s a lot of subjectivity in that ordinance," Kovak said.
The city needs to have the authority to suspend a license in cases so that the business cannot continue operating until after the settling of the court case in court, City Attorney John Davis said. He cited examples of businesses that sell alcohol to minors or businesses where drugs are dealt on the premises.
Rossville does not want to hurt businesses, but wants to protect shoppers, council member Rick Buff said.
Buff stressed the city does not presume guilt when charges are filed, he said.
"Every situation will be handled individually," Mayor Johnny Baker said.
The city will not yank a business license in every case, only those deemed serious enough violations, officials said.
Davis said he believed the city already had such an ordinance in place. The city has been discussing the need for this ordinance for the past few months.
In other business Monday, the council held the first reading of the 2004 budget and millage rate. The council unanimously approved keeping the millage at 10 mills and setting the operating budget at $1.6 million