SHERIDAN — Gov. Mark Gordon’s order outlining health restrictions on bars and restaurants is set to expire May 31, and Sheridan City Council is considering whether to extend alcohol delivery beyond the emergency order.
Council considered emergency ordinance No. 2218 regarding alcohol delivery May 18, when Mayor Roger Miller advocated for continuing the service as a benefit to businesses.
“At this point, because the businesses aren’t 100% open — not 100% fully functional — this opportunity for the businesses to make a little extra sales at this time, while we’re still not fully functional as a community and as businesses, my recommendation is that we would keep it going until the order is officially removed and then we take consideration of what other steps we may want to take in the future,” Miller said during the meeting.
Sheridan Municipal Ordinance 4-5 currently prohibits alcoholic beverage delivery, outside of an emergency situation defined by the city.
Ordinance No. 2218 has been regularly reapproved during council meetings throughout the pandemic to allow business owners more flexibility in service options, Miller said.
City attorney Brendon Kerns clarified an emergency ordinance is only valid during the time the emergency exists — an ongoing consideration for council as bars and restaurants can once again host people and serve alcohol on site.
Councilor Aaron Linden said many residents are still apprehensive about going out in public. Keeping the order in effect until a sound prediction can be established will at least allow businesses to continue benefiting from additional revenue streams from food and alcohol delivery, he said.
Councilor Jacob Martin supported continuance as well, citing a potential rollback on orders from Gordon — depending on statewide COVID-19 spread as society reopens — and occupancy limits within businesses.
Council will discuss extending the order at a regular work study session May 26, Kerns said. If council determines there is no longer an emergency within Sheridan, they will have to follow the city ordinance change process to amend city code and allow alcohol delivery within city limits.
Kerns said city staff are compiling information to ensure council implements a “good ordinance” — taking into account delivery service logs and any correlation between crime and alcohol delivery such as DUIs or domestic abuse.
Staff is also speaking with Sheridan’s liquor license holders and local members of the Wyoming State Liquor Association to find out what works well and what needs improvement.
Attorney Anthony Wendtland said he helped a few business clients navigate the temporary order and is not aware of any complaints with the format.
Black Tooth Brewing Company owner Tim Barnes said alcohol delivery didn’t alter his business model in any “earth-shattering way” — the most prominent benefit was it offered part-time staff some hours to work during the crux of the pandemic that wouldn’t have otherwise been available.
From his perspective, many people are ready to get out of their homes and running out to pick up beer is one way to do so. Still, Barnes said as a brewer, he is indifferent on whether the ordinance continues but would support it for retailers who likely saw more deliveries in recent months than Black Tooth.
Kerns said the goal is “not just regulation for the sake of regulation,” but also to consider who is most affected by alcohol delivery and how other municipalities and states have handled the situation. Most Wyoming communities prohibit delivery because of proven issues, Kerns said.
Council will consider data provided by staff to determine if delivery works well for the community — one hope is that DUIs, public intoxication and other alcohol-related issues will decrease with fewer people traveling to and from a bar to obtain alcohol, Kerns said.
Sheridan Police Department Lt. Travis Koltiska said information is being looked at now but no data is available yet. When the emergency ordinance was established, businesses delivering beverages had to keep records of each sale, delivery and other information, which the city is compiling for SPD.
One counter-argument concern is juvenile access to liquor delivered to a home, though alcohol must be delivered to the purchaser at a home, with a valid government ID showing they are older than 21.
Three readings are required to pass an amendment to city code, which can be completed at minimum within 10 days of the first reading. Tuesday’s meeting will start with discussion and workable ordinance language.