Failed liquor compliance checks cause for concern


ALAMOSA — Recent failed liquor license compliance checks raised concern among Alamosa city councilors during their final 2017 meeting.

After some discussion, the council approved stipulated agreements that had been reached between City Prosecutor Gene Farish and the license holders for the four businesses that sold to underage customers during October compliance checks: Thai Hut; Wize Apples; Terry’s Liquor; and Beer Keg Depot.

Given their lack of prior violations, both the Thai Hut and Wize Apples were given written warnings with the requirement that they complete TIPS or similar liquor license training within 30 days. If they do not complete the training, their license will be suspended for five days (or fine in lieu of suspension) in the case of the Thai Hut or a fine levied in the case of Wize Apples.

This is not the first violation for Terry’s Liquor or Beer Keg Depot, however, and both will be required to serve a suspension of their license or pay a fine in lieu of suspension. Beer Keg Depot’s calculated fine would be $1,573, which is 20 percent of the gross revenue from alcohol sales for two days (based on sales receipts from the business.) If the fine is not paid, the business must serve two days suspension of its liquor license.

This was Beer Keg Depot’s fourth violation since 2001 but first since February 2013.

The calculated fine for Terry’s Liquor would be $1,074, representing 20 percent of the gross revenue from alcohol sales for three days, based on the business’ sales receipts. If the business does not pay the fine, it will have to serve three days suspension of its liquor license.

This was Terry’s Liquor’s fifth violation since 2001 but the first since February 2013. However, this violation occurred under the same ownership as the last violation, and the business did not produce certificates or evidence of training for their employees.

Alamosa City Councilor Liz Thomas Hensley did not want to single anybody out or get her source in trouble, but she said she was aware of one of these businesses where management had told the employees not to card so many people.

“If that is the culture of that organization, that to me is a concern,” Hensley said. “I am not sure if there’s something we can do about it.”

City Attorney Erich Schwiesow said there is something the council can do. It could decide not to accept the stipulated agreement involving that business and require the owners to come in and meet with the council to address the council’s concerns. He said the council could approve the other stipulations and pull the one out that is raising a concern and address it separately.

Hensley said the person who shared the information with her had not given her permission to give out the name of the business, which would in turn “out that person as well.” She said she did not feel comfortable doing that at this point, so she said she would agree to the stipulations as a whole. She added if this occurred again, however, she would probably act differently.

Councilor Kristina Daniel said the city has given liquor license holders the information to make sure they and their staff are trained to avoid serving underage customers, so she was frustrated that there were four businesses that failed the compliance check.

“This is not a difficult task,” she said. “If people don’t have their ID’s, they don’t get served … I have a problem with businesses not training staff, absolutely.”

Councilman David Broyles agreed. “I think we are going too light on this. We should be tougher.”

He added, however, that he did not want to hold up the action on these violations that night unless he had a compelling reason, which he did not believe he had at that point.

City Manager Heather Brooks said maybe the city council could hold a work session to discuss the stand it might want to take in the future and if it wanted to change the direction it gives the city prosecutor in dealing with these violations. Hensley said she liked the idea of a work session to discuss this further.

The council approved the stipulated agreements regarding the four businesses’ violations.