Harrisonville to consider streamlining liquor rules

By Lucas Lord

The Harrisonville Board of Aldermen held a work session Monday night to discuss changes to the city’s liquor laws and how permits are granted. Since feedback has been mounting about the cumbersome process, Harrisonville City Clerk Daniel Barnett was charged with streamlining the process.

“The city’s liquor laws, most of the law section is just fine, but one of the things we really want to take a look at was the overall process for the procuring of a liquor license,” Barnett said. “The process is very clunky and very inefficient. It is a burden for applicants and a burden for staff. It is very outdated and needs to be updated.

“As we started looking into that, there are a few tweaks in our laws that need to get to the same level as the state. One of the things is for the allowance for sales on Sunday. The state extended that to 1 a.m. Monday morning, practically making it just like every other day.”

Barnett said when new applicants come to his office they are often confused since the state and city require different documents.

“My office oversaw that and honestly, even we had a hard time telling people what they needed,” he said. “Honestly, it was very convoluted and very difficult to understand. The state website looked one way then you get to ours and it was completely different. So, effectively we took our application process and mirrored the state’s when it came to getting exactly what you need. Those were the two biggest changes that (City Attorney Alex Feldman) and I made.”

According to Feldman, Harrisonville will mirror Missouri’s liquor licensing fee schedule if approved by the board at their next regular session.

“If (Missouri) charges $450 a year for Sunday sales, as a city we can charge 1.5 times that since as a city we govern liquor,” Feldman said. “The city can charge above and beyond what the state does. Since people pay the state fee and the city fee, basically our fees will update simultaneously as the state does.”

Barnett told the board SmartGov, which handles a lot of the city website’s code, will be able to accommodate business and liquor license applications.

“We are hoping that through SmartGov, which handles a lot of the code and community development projects, that we can move the applying for building permits and liquor license process, which can be tricky, online,” he said. “People are bringing in huge stacks of documents that we then shove in storage cabinets which take up space and cause headaches down the road. So, we want it all to be online. People aren’t complaining to us about the fees, they are complaining about how much different stuff they have to bring us. ”

The board of aldermen agreed to formally vote on the municipal code change at its next regular session.

During its regular meeting, two events were also voted on and approved: the 10th annual Stacey Cox 5K Memorial Run, an event organized by Terry Cox to raise scholarship funds for high school students, for 8 to 10 a.m. May 14 beginning at the high school and the delinquent sales tax property sale organized by Cass County Collector Chris Molendorp slated for 8:30 a.m. to noon Aug. 22. “Every county collector is required on the fourth Monday of August to auction off property’s two or more years delinquent on their taxes,” Molendorp said. “We have to do it at the courthouse in the county seat. My predecessors did it on the second floor, but there is no modern technology in there and there are security issues with the open balcony. With COVID, it made sense to move the auction back onto the courthouse steps, but with that obviously there is some spillover into the streets.”

In his request, Molendorp asked that Pearl Street be closed off between Lexington and North Independence during the sale as he anticipated about 150 attendees for the more than 40 properties to be auctioned. “I also think this is good for transparency,” he said. “If I am going to take someone’s home from them, it shouldn’t be done behind closed doors. It should be done out on the street in the open.”

The sale will take place on the northern steps of the courthouse and will begin at 10 a.m. Aug. 22.