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Smoking amendments unlikely to pass
Kyle's proposals not on agenda with enforcement of ordinance less than 2 weeks away

By Evan Belanger 340-2442

With Decatur's comprehensive smoking ordinance set to take effect in less than two weeks, it seems unlikely the City Council will pass any amendments proposed by Mayor Don Kyle.

Kyle announced earlier this month that he would propose a few amendments to the ordinance during the council's regular meeting Monday. But neither Kyle nor the council members mentioned the proposal during the brief meeting.

E-mailed proposals

Prior to the meeting, Kyle said he e-mailed his proposals to all council members, but received no response. He said Council President Billy Jackson declined to place the items on the meeting agenda.

"I guess we'll have to watch and see what kind of revenues we do have and whether or not the businesses that are operating on the 30th of September are still operating on the 31st of December," Kyle said.

Kyle said after Monday's meeting that he will meet with Jackson on Tuesday to discuss amending the ordinance before it takes effect Oct. 1.

But Jackson responded, saying he did receive an e-mail from Kyle about the proposed amendments but Kyle never requested that he place them on the agenda for consideration — formally or informally.

Jackson also said he did have a meeting scheduled with Kyle for Tuesday, but it was to discuss insurance options, not the smoking ordinance.

"He has not said anything to me about the amendments, nor has he said anything to me about adding it to the agenda," he said. "To answer your question, I don't have a clue."

Specifics of Kyle's proposals include exempting businesses that mostly serve alcohol or have a separate room and environmental system for smokers. He also called for exemptions to allow employee smoking in businesses that the public does not frequent.

Hurting small businesses

Kyle, who considered vetoing the controversial ordinance for 10 days before allowing it to pass Aug. 16, said he understands the need for a strong smoking ordinance in Decatur, but he is concerned a full ban will shut down some of the city's smaller businesses.

"I don't think it's premature to consider some of the concerns because some of these little tiny businesses like family bars and pubs, can't afford to lose 10 percent of their business for 60 or 90 days," he said. "They don't have the time to wait and see how the ordinance impacts them."

When confronted with Kyle's proposed amendments earlier this month, the council majority, which passed the ordinance 3-2 Aug. 6, accused the mayor of "grandstanding" for political purposes.

Jackson and Councilmen Ronny Russell and David Bolding voted for the ban.

They vowed not to support any changes to the ordinance before it takes effect.

Decatur's comprehensive smoking ordinance bans smoking in all public places, including bars and restaurants. It requires business owners to post no-smoking signs by Oct. 1.

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