A proposed city ordinance will require establishments with liquor licenses to renew them on time.

The Decorah City Council approved the first two readings of the ordinance at its meetings this month. It changes regulations for filing applications for beer and liquor permits.

The state requires municipalities to "timely-file" expired licenses unless the city has an ordinance stating otherwise. That means a business that has filed renewal paperwork with the state can continue to operate even though their renewal has not been approved by the Council.

If the ordinance is approved, the city will no longer be timely filing expired licenses and those businesses that have not had their renewal approved before their license expired will not be allowed to sell alcohol.


In the past year, there were at least eight establishments that had to have their liquor license renewals "timely filed" because the renewal process was not completed in time to be approved by the Decorah City Council prior to expiration, according to City Manager Chad Bird.

The city's current ordinance also doesn't reflect the renewal practice the Iowa Bureau of Liquor requires now, City Clerk Wanda Hemesath told the Council earlier this month.

"Everything that goes through them is now paper free. Our ordinance doesn't reflect that," she said.

She also said in the past three or four years, the city has had an "overwhelming number" of establishments that don't file renewals on time.

"This (proposed) ordinance requires them to get their paperwork done on time and get on a Council agenda and get approved before their license actually expires," Hemesath said.

She said 70 days before a liquor license is going to expire, the business is notified.

The Council is required to hold three readings before an ordinance can be considered for adoption. The final reading is scheduled for the Council's Monday, Feb. 4, meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m. at Decorah City Hall.