Van Buren Township resident Walter Young commented that the opportunity for people to make their own decisions is slowly being taken away.
"I thought Hitler died years ago, but apparently his descendents are alive and wanting to tell people what they can and can't do with their own lives," Young said. "I believe it should be up to the restaurant owners to decide whether or not to allow smoking in their establishments."
The proposed ordinance, which has not been drafted, was brought to the council during its November meeting by Clay County Tobacco Coalition Director Kandace Brown, along with results from a public opinion poll conducted by the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Survey Research Center. The proposal included prohibiting smoking in all workplaces, including restaurants, bars and private clubs.
Bounty Lounge Owner Jeff Warren told the council Wednesday he believed in establishments where a person must be at least 21 to enter, like his business, the decision should be left to the customers themselves on whether or not to smoke.
"If a business has patrons under the age of 18 or 21, then I think there should be smoking and non-smoking sections," he said. "However, in establishments like mine, where you have to be 21 to be in there and about 90 percent of my customers smoke, they are all adults and should be able to make their own decisions."
Former Clay County Health Department Public Health Nurse Diane Dierks said a major purpose of the proposed ordinance is to protect the employees of area business that allow smoking.
"It's basically to help protect the employees of these establishments from the dangers of second-hand smoke," Dierks said.
Young responded, "There are many waiters and waitress who work in the smoking sections who smoke themselves and request to be in that specific section."
Mayor Ann Bradshaw said she has had an influx of calls on both sides of the issue, adding extra consideration as to how local business owners feel about the ordinance itself -- and how they think businesses will be affected -- must be taken.
Council President Steve Lamb said he has attempted to contact 24 local business owners, including those which are already smoke-free to get a feel for the situation.
"So far, I have only had nine responses, but seven of those said they would not support a smoking ban," Lamb said. "I even had an owner of a non-smoking establishment say they would go back to allowing smoking if they could because it has had an adverse effect on that particular business. So obviously, we have to take a closer look at just how this could affect business within the city limits."
In other business during Wednesday's meeting, the council:
* Approved corrections on the 2011 salary ordinances for police, fire and city employees as minor miscalculations were made in some salaries and the 14th year of experience off the pay scale for firefighters,
* Approved an additional appropriation of $87,548 out of the Rainy Day Fund for personal services, capital outlays and other services and charges, along with a separate appropriation of $70,000 in the Cumulative Capital Development Fund for capital outlays. In addition, a total of $348,416 in reductions was approved in the General Fund, $312,116 of which was Public Safety Local Option Income Tax monies that was placed into its own fund, while the remaining $36,300 was to balance out the 2011 budget,
* Passed an ordinance allowing a transfer of $24,000 from the General Fund to the Utility Department Fund to allow the Water Department to purchase a water stop machine, which allows the detection of leaks in a line to be more precise,
* Approved an ordinance setting the speed limit in city parks at 15 miles per hour. While that is the speed limit currently posted, conflicting ordinances had been discovered setting the limit at both 5 and 15 miles per hour, and
* Selected Sam Glover to be president of the council and Brad Deal as vice president for 2011, along with voting to keep meetings at 7 p.m., on the second Wednesday of each month.
In addition, the council set a special meeting for 4 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 22, for the purposes of discussing the animal control contract.
The next regular meeting of the Common Council of the City of Brazil will be 7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011. All meetings are conducted in the Council Chambers at City Hall.