Savannah still not enforcing expanded bar card regulation

(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Three full months into a new alcohol ordinance for the City of Savannah and one big component is still not being enforced.

Revisions widened the umbrella to include even more people who need a bar card to cover just about any employee coming into contact with alcohol. The bar card is issued by the City of Savannah to those who serve alcohol. It's proof that the server has passed a background check and undergone training to pour drinks responsibly to patrons.

That function, and safety, is still a priority for the City of Savannah.

"We want servers out there to know the rules, to be responsible and to do their job correctly," explained Saja Aures, public information administrator for Savannah.

Including even more service employees to hold those bar cards, however, puts an enormous burden on the City's Revenue Department. The agency tasked with conducting background checks and issuing bar cards.

So much so, in fact, that a third party will likely be hired at some point to handle the administrative duty.

Aures said, "When the ordinance was adopted, the council was informed at that time that we would be looking at options for how to handle the administrative side of things and that we probably would go to a contractor."

The search has yet to begin for that contractor. In the meantime, the City of Savannah says in a message on their website that the expanded bar card requirement is not being enforced, which raises concern for groups like the Tourism Leadership Council.

"We're simply asking for a repeal or a stay for that particular section of the new requirements of the bar cards until the City is ready to facilitate that new requirement," said Michael Owens, president and CEO for the TLC.

Owens says the new policy needs to be clearer when it comes to explaining who falls under the expanded requirements and how it will create a safer situation for the public.

"We're not looking to blame anyone for the situation. We just want consistency within the legislation," Owens said.

Reconsidering the bar card portion of the ordinance was on the table for council members during last week's meeting, but following some discussion, the issue was tabled until next week's meeting.

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