Bartender license application revised

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BELOIT - Multiple applicants for bartender licenses in Beloit recently were denied renewal of licenses by the Beloit Police Department, even after some workers had bartended or sold alcohol in the city previously.

The city is implementing a new application process that officials say provides ways to make more accurate final decisions to approve or deny a bartender's license. Beloit Police Captain Dan Risse, who handles the background check process for each application and makes official recommendations, said some applicants approved in the past "should not have been approved" based on previous criminal histories.

The new application, which costs $50, clearly lists multiple instances that could prevent a license being issued, including giving false or incomplete information, an arrest or conviction that is alcohol-related or being a habitual criminal offender. A Class A liquor license for tavern owners in the city costs $500 each year, according to City Clerk fees.

"Now the department has an application that can have a thorough background check run on, and Captain Risse has parameters set forth that says every application that is going to be treated exactly the same," City Clerk Lori Stottler said.

In March, the city updated its application for an bartender's license and Stottler said she reviewed policies from 25 other Wisconsin municipalities to compile a form that was in-line with accepted League of Wisconsin Municipalities members.

The changes instituted a more thorough background check process that requires all applicants disclose any conviction on their record, and lists specifications that could prevent an application from getting a favorable recommendation.

The move helped determine two grounds for a license not being renewed, and Stottler said the changes helped the city organize everything in a simple way.

Six people seeking bartender licenses were recommended for denial by the department for past problems with the law at the July 11 Alcohol Beverage License Control Committee meeting.

The ALBCC makes recommendations of denial or approval to the Beloit City Council, where the final vote is taken on each application. In the past, the city manager had approved licenses, while state law referencing bartender licenses used the language "governing body" to describe who or what should oversee the process. Applicants must re-apply for an bartender's license on a biennial basis, and the recent application change has caused some confusion.

Risse also noted the total number of recommended denials was a fraction of the city's overall operator's license totals, with around 400 active in the city for the 2017-19 cycle. In the 2015-17 cycle, around 800 had been approved. The numbers fluctuate greatly due to people working in various places and people switching jobs, officials said.

At the July 11 ALBCC meeting, the committee supported one of the department's denial requests, while offering a tied 3-3 decision on one application and recommending approval for three of the BPD denials. Reasoning behind the recommendations for approval came from some applicants needing the license to hold their respective jobs around Beloit, which some noted was the only means of income they had to support themselves or their families.

If an application is recommended for denial by the police department, all applicants are notified to attend an ALBCC hearing, and can enter in an appeal to the recommendation. In appeals listed for the July 11 meeting, multiple applicants said they were confused by the new disclosure process.

The city clerk's office and police department can answer questions of prospective applicants. Each renewal cycle, Stottler sends out letters notifying applicants they need to reapply, and both the city clerk and Risse said they are available to handle any questions or concerns throughout the application process. All pending recommendations will be voted on by the city council on July 31.

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