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Permit changes aired for those who serve/sell alcohol
Measure aimed at accountability
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Forsyth County News

A change in permitting for alcohol servers and sellers is under way.

The Forsyth County commission has discussed a proposal that would require individuals with a permit to renew annually, instead of a one-time fee per location.

The cost would remain at $25 for the permit each year from the county, plus $40 for the background check through the local sheriff’s office.

The measure is aimed at increasing accountability and frequency of background checks for restaurant servers and clerks who sell by the package, to ensure no new incidents appear on criminal records that would prevent someone from being able to sell alcohol under current requirements.

The next public hearing is set for the commission’s regular meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday.

After a first public hearing on Nov. 21, during which no one spoke, commissioners discussed scenarios that may complicate or negate the intent of the ordinance.

They revisited the topic at Tuesday work session. And though they tweaked some points, they still are looking for a proposal that would cover most of the concerns.

For example, a person working at several locations may have a violation at one store without the other knowing, and continue to sell alcohol elsewhere during a suspension.

At the Nov. 21 meeting, the commission floated the idea of having different permits for each location, so the owner wouldn’t have the liability of checking to ensure employees had the proper identification each time they showed up for work.

Permits must be on site while a person is selling alcohol.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said Tuesday that the proposal would be difficult to regulate if people have multiple permits each year.

“The model we’re about to embrace would be like if you had multiple driver’s licenses for each car you could drive and you had to keep that license in the car, as opposed to having one license that authorizes you to drive as many cars as you want to drive,” he said.

Instead, Jarrard suggested that business owners keep copies of the permits and have responsibility only for knowing if the annual card has expired.

Alcohol license holders at a business wouldn’t be liable for knowing if their employees had a sales violation at any outlet other than their own and a permit would be forfeited during a suspension.

However, if the employee is caught serving at another location with a suspended permit, his or her ability to sell alcohol in Forsyth could be permanently revoked, said Tom Brown, director of the department of planning and community development.

“So there’s a strong incentive for them not to do that,” Brown said.

Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills, who initiated the permit code changes, recommended that each person be assigned a bar code or number so there’s “some system of flagging” employees regardless of location.

County staff agreed to review how other jurisdictions that have annual renewals handle the issue, as well as reviewing any potential impact on special event permits.