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Fines in Willmar, Minn., for illegal serving would increase but licenses would not be in jeopardy

WILLMAR -- Proposed amendments to Willmar's liquor license ordinance would increase fines for illegally serving minors, but eliminate liquor license holders from having their license suspended or revoked.

The penalty for the first violation would remain the same -- a written warning.

The proposed changes and additions for subsequent violations are as follows:

- Second violation -- increase in fine from $750 to $1,000 and eliminate a five-day license suspension.

- Third violation -- increase in fine from $1,500 to $2,000 and eliminate a 10-day suspension.

- Fourth violation -- fine set at $3,000 and revocation of license eliminated.

- Fifth and subsequent violations -- referral to City Council for consideration.

The amendments would change the status of a first violation as well: When a license holder has not had a violation for three consecutive years or when a license holder has successfully passed three consecutive compliance checks, whichever time period is shorter, the violation level drops one level and each subsequent successful compliance check drops one additional level. Currently, the time period for no violations is five consecutive years or successfully passing five consecutive compliance checks.

Council member Ron Christianson explained that if an establishment has one violation and it passes the next three checks, the establishment's violation number goes down to zero. If it has two violations and it passes the next three checks, the number of violations would go down one.

The amendments would still require the city clerk to notify the license holder of the violation. The license holder would still have seven calendar days to request a hearing.

If a hearing is not requested, the fine shall be paid within 10 days after the seven-day period expires.

If a hearing is requested, the license holder would appear before the council. The amendments would drop the requirement that the license holder appear before the Finance Committee.

The amendments require alcohol servers to attend a police chief-approved training program before servers directly or indirectly sell alcoholic beverages. Employees are required to attend the training within 90 days after their initial hire date, and all servers must attend the training within 90 days of each three-year anniversary date of the initial hire.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150