The public hearing was in response to an April 7 decision by the council, which voted not to reissue a business license for the store and to shut it down.
The owners of the Millcreek Package Store, which is located across the street from Carbon Hill High School, have not had a business or an alcohol sales license from the City of Carbon Hill since 2010.
Larry Farris, a former partner of the store who took full ownership along with his wife in March of 2012, said his former business partner was responsible for maintaining the licenses with the municipality.
Farris’ attorney, Keith McKerall, said his client has done all he can to rectify the mistake and, on three occasions, has tried to pay all past due payments and late fees.
“They asked, ‘Please take our money,’” McKerall said to the council during the hearing.
During the council’s April 7 meeting, a measure to allow the business owners to catch up on all license fees was introduced by council member Willie Clayton. The motion, however, died after no other council members seconded it.
Farris and his accountant were questioned at the hearing by city attorneys and cross examined by McKerall.
During the questioning, Farris said shutting his business down would put a terrible financial burden on his family.
“We tried to run it as straight as possible and we want to continue to do that,” Farris said. “I think it would be good for me and Carbon Hill, too.”
McKerall said he did not understand why the council would vote to close a business that stood to bring in tax revenue to the city.
After the meeting, council member Jacque Allred said the city’s leaders do all they can to support local businesses and pointed to the recent reestablishment of the Carbon Hill Industrial Development Board as evidence. However, reissuing a license to the Millcreek Package Store would not be fair to businesses that have worked to stay in compliance with local laws.
“We support any business owner who’s in compliance with city ordinances, but we have to protect ourselves from businesses that are not responsible,” she said.
The council ultimately voted to revoke the license with only council member Willie Clayton voting no.
During the beginning of the hearing, McKerall said that if the council would not work with his clients to reinstate the license, they would settle the matter in Walker County’s Circuit Court.
In other business, the council:
•Voted to move around $75,000 from a savings account into the city’s general fund. The money will be used to pay the city’s monthly bills and the remaining funds will go toward a $75,000 line of credit.
During a work session before the council meeting, the members agreed the savings account’s interest rate was too low to merit keeping the money in the fund. Council members also agreed that paying off the debt was pertinent because city leaders have been only been paying the interest of the loan.
•Voted to reinstate Joe Killingsworth to the Carbon Hill Water Works Board.