City commissioners will try once again Tuesday to agree on a set of rules for enforcing municipal ordinances during next month’s Fake Patty’s Day.
The particular focus at the 7 p.m. City Commission meeting, as it has been recently, will be how to deal with overcrowding in Aggieville taverns. Should the Riley County Police Department, as well as the Manhattan Fire Department, be able to issue citations for overcrowding violations? Should authorities be allowed to close such businesses for up to 24 hours, or only until the overcrowding issue is resolved? And should the fines attached to such closures be increased as much as five-fold from the present $500?
All those proposals were part of an amended ordinance that was considered and tabled by commissioners last month. At that meeting, commissioners failed to agree whether the penalties should be increased, and also whether to permit the closure of businesses found in violation of the over-crowding rules for as much as 24 hours. Several Aggieville bar owners at that January meeting objected to the proposed changes.
City officials have also advised commissioners they intend to pursue license suspension or revocation actions against repeat violators of the overcrowding ordinance, another topic that has drawn a split reaction on the Commission.
Discussions related to potential ordinance changes have been the topic of meetings involving city, law enforcement and business interests for the past year, but no agreement has resulted.
Fake Patty’s Day this year takes place the weekend of March 10, one week before St. Patrick’s Day, and is expected to draw thousands of people to the city.