Council discusses removal of city reporting requirements for liquor sales

East Lansing businesses with liquor licenses might not have to report liquor sales to the City Council if a proposal discussed during its regularly scheduled work session at City Hall, 410 Abbot Rd., is passed.

The 50/50 policy, adopted in the late 1980’s, requires downtown restaurants with liquor licenses provide at least half their sales in food, with the other half able to come from liquor sales. Under the current guidelines, restaurants also are required to report sales to council.

Mayor Pro Tem Nathan Triplett said the order would not lift the 50/50 requirement, only the reporting requirement.

“For a number of years, we’ve heard complaints from both city staff and from restaurant owners that the requirement is burdensome and that it doesn’t really get to the problem we’re trying to solve,” Triplett said. “That being overconsumption and the other, negative impacts of overconsumption. ”

Triplett said it would be in good faith on the part of the restaurant to comply with the 50/50 requirement without reporting it if the policy goes through.

“Personally, I see it as a first step towards ultimately eliminating this requirement in its entirety,” he said.

Councilmember Vic Loomis questioned during the meeting whether or not the reporting requirement should be lifted.

“Candidly, the feedback I’m getting out of this industry is to leave this thing alone,” he said. “So I don’t know what’s motivating this,” Loomis said.

Council members went back and forth on the issue, discussing the proposed administrative order for almost 30 minutes before agreeing to further discuss the issue during next week’s council meeting.

Council member Kevin Beard said during the meeting he didn’t think that suspending the reporting requirement for a year in the short term would be a problem.

“My question has been, and continues to be, what is going to replace it that will be effective in helping these establishments operate as restaurants and not as bars or saloons,” he said.

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