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Milton hammering out new booze rules

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Neil Johnson
August 7, 2013

MILTON—If you're a bartender in Milton and you're legally drunk on the job, you'll soon be breaking a city ordinance.

But if you're a mannerly, orderly resident, and you limit your consumption to designated gazebo areas, you could soon be able to drink alcohol without a permit in a handful city parks.

The city this week approved an ordinance prohibiting bartenders at city taverns from being drunk at work, and it reworked a draft ordinance that could allow people to drink in some parks without a special beer license.

The council sent the bartender ordinance sailing through to be published, and it could be in effect late this week or early next week, officials said.

The ordinance means bartenders with a blood-alcohol level higher than 0.08, the legal threshold for intoxication in Wisconsin, would not be allowed to serve alcohol to patrons.

Milton Police Chief Dan Layber originally forwarded a proposal for the ordinance after police arrested a bartender earlier this year for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

The bartender, a woman, was passed out drunk behind the bar while at work with a blood-alcohol level of 0.40, five times the legal limit.

The bartender became belligerent with police, who were responding to a patron's compliant of her being drunk at work. The bartender, at that time, told officers they couldn't do anything about her being drunk because there was no city rule against it.

The bartender was so drunk, police said, that she could hardly lift her head off the bar.

Layber has said the rule would force tavern owners and bartenders to be more accountable and responsible in monitoring patrons for signs of being over-served—a task he's argued is more difficult if bartenders themselves are drunk.

There is no fine established for the bartender ordinance. It would have to be set by the city's municipal court, said clerk Michelle Ebbert. Under state law, serving alcohol to someone who is intoxicated is punishable by fines of up to $500.

Meanwhile, the council sent back for retooling a draft ordinance that would abolish a permit process and get rid of a longstanding ban on alcohol consumption in many city parks.

Now, the city only allows alcohol in parks after a special beer permit is granted. The permit is intended for functions such as picnics, celebrations and wedding events. The city receives about 150 requests a year for such permits.

City Administrator Jerry Schuetz said the council tabled the ordinance, asking city staff to bring back an alternate ordinance that would allow alcohol in parks without a permit, but limit consumption to areas inside park gazebos.

Schuetz said council members believe the tweaked ordinance would satisfy concerns from some members who don't want to see alcohol consumption mixed with youth sporting events, many of which are held in city parks.

Under the draft ordinance unveiled this week, people would be allowed to drink in gazebos at Lamar and Central parks, and at a gazebo and in the Milton Community House at Goodrich Park, Schuetz indicated.

Schuetz and Ebbert have said their research showed other cities in the area allow alcohol in public parks, but with rules in place. Schuetz said the goal of the ordinance change is to make parks more user friendly.



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