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Bethel city council to vote on package store ballot proposition

Christine Trudeau

On Tuesday, Aug. 9, the Bethel City Council will vote on a ballot proposition that would put to voters the question of whether Bethel should allow a package store that sells beer and wine.

A recent amendment to alcohol laws in Alaska, signed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy in July, carved out a clause that allows cities to grant licenses to package stores that sell only beer and wine under the local option. Although the bill does not fully come into effect until Jan. 1, 2024, Bethel City Council will vote on a ballot proposition that asks voters if they’d like to allow such a store in the city.

The council vote is strictly a formality, because the matter will be decided by the voters. The proposition already received the requisite number of signatures to be placed on the ballot. That’s 165 signatures, or 35% of the turnout of the last municipal election. The package store proposition would appear on the October city election ballot, but the earliest Bethel could see a package store is still 2024.

In other business, the council will vote to change the zoning on an undeveloped plot of land on BIA road so that GCI can build a new cellphone tower. On the consent agenda there is also an item that would establish a “pay-what-you-can” discount for the YK Fitness center. Under that program, families and individuals could receive up to a 75% discount to the fitness center, depending on household income.

There’s a chance that all of this business could be delayed until the next council meeting. Because the mayor and vice mayor are out of town, the council may not have a quorum, which is the minimum number of members present to proceed with the meeting.

The city council meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. and will air live on KYUK 640 AM. If you’d like to speak at the meeting you can join online or attend in person.

Will McCarthy was a temporary news reporter at KYUK. Previously, he worked as a furniture mover, producer, and freelance journalist. Will's written for the New York Times, National Geographic, and Texas Monthly. He holds a master's degree in journalism from UC Berkeley.