By Angie Thompson

TIFTON -- The Tifton City Council voted in a called meeting Monday night to amend its alcoholic beverage license ordinance to allow charitable organizations who qualify to serve mixed drinks for one day.

"Many other communities have such a license and we didn't provide for it initially," said Greg Sowell, the city's attorney.

The change came on the heels of the Tifton Hospital Foundation's request to be licensed to serve mixed drinks at the Feb. 12 "Hearts and Diamonds" gala fundraiser at the University of Georgia's Tift Campus Conference Center.

Councilmen amended the code to define a charitable organization as one that is incorporated as a nonprofit corporation or is formally organized, with a constitution and bylaws, and with a central governing body such as a board of trustees or directors to be directly responsible for the one-day license. The organization must also have been granted tax-exempt status by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and be in the business of raising money for "charitable purposes" as defined in the ordinance.

The one-day license would cost $100 and authorize the charitable organization to dispense alcoholic beverages at one location only and for consumption only on the premises. No alcoholic beverages can be sold at the event. Drinks from an open bar must be included in the donation or the ticket price for the charitable event.

"If there is any cash involved, they will have to have the full alcohol license," Sowell said.

The organization is also required to designate one person, a resident of Tifton, who will be responsible for the "lawful and proper conduct of the alcoholic beverage license, giving the name, address and other information sufficient to identify such person."

Charitable organizations approved for the one-day license will be excused from the excise tax as the sale of alcoholic beverages will not be involved.

The charitable organization's license holder is also required to present a final report to the council that includes a statement of the gross receipts of the event, the amount of expenses paid to hold the event and the net profit made from the event and how the profit is distributed.

The charities must also meet event permit requirements before the one-day license is granted.

The change also gives the city manager the discretion to issue an event permit within a shorter time if the applicant has been previously approved and if the proposed event location has been previously approved.

Voters approved liquor by the drink by referendum Nov. 2. The city ordinance and the county resolution are nearly the same in effect.

Restaurants, private clubs and caterers who receive at least 50 percent of their revenue from food sales are eligible for approval.

To contact city editor Angie Thompson, call 382-4321, ext. 209.

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