Last call compromise a win for taxpayers

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 25, 2015

There is a saying that “politics is the art of compromise.”
That was brought out over the past few days as three parties involved in a lawsuit managed to sit down and work out a solution to their problem that was mutually beneficial.
The issue at hand involved the Mississippi Department of Revenue’s Dec. 19 decision — at the city’s request — to restrict the hours Vicksburg businesses with resort status can sell alcohol. Resort status is a special status that allows a bar or restaurant to sell alcohol 24 hours a day. The Department of Revenue, however, at the request of a municipality, can restrict those hours if the municipality is able to show a need to restrict sales.
The city’s petition to the state cited concerns for safety. The state agreed, and cut the hours of sale at KJ’s River Town Grille, Monsour’s at the Biscuit Company, LD’s Kitchen and the Beechwood from 24 hours to 2 a.m. The city’s four casinos were allowed to continue alcohol sales 24 hours a day.
David Belden, the owner of KJ’s, filed suit in Hinds County Chancery Court on Jan. 8. His reasoning was understandable — he was trying to protect his business.
The case went to court Tuesday with a hearing on KJ’s motion for a retraining order to stop the city from enforcing the new hours. But the chancellor assigned the case ordered it rescheduled because there was not enough time allowed for testimony. And that’s when the wheels began turning for a settlement.
Between Tuesday and late Wednesday afternoon, all three sides got together on a conference call and worked out a solution that allows the four businesses, called “land-based resorts” in the city’s resolution to restrict sales, to stop sales at 2 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. In return, KJ’s agreed to drop its suit.
The end result wasn’t what either side wanted, but it a solution they could all live with. Under the agreement, the businesses have an extra hour on weekends when their business is at its peak, and the city has a tool to use to keep things safe.
Mayor George Flaggs Jr. put the idea of compromise in a good perspective. “When you compromise, the taxpayers win.”
And all sides in this situation need to be commended for sitting back, looking forward and putting aside their differences to reach a solution that avoided a possibly long and expensive legal battle.

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