“I hope we can have it on the same ballot as the August election,” said Councilman Donnie Todd. “It wouldn’t cost the city anymore money to do it.”
He said if the Sunday alcohol sales issue was put on the August municipal election ballot, the city would not have any additional cost of a special citywide referendum election.
He said Wednesday city officials do expect the local delegation to introduce a bill this legislative session, which would authorize a referendum election to determine whether alcoholic beverages may be sold or dispensed on Sunday by properly licensed businesses within Pell City.
Todd said city officials recently met with Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, and Rep. Randy Wood, R-Anniston, about the resolution the mayor and council unanimously passed in March 2011.
The resolution asks that the state delegation introduce legislation which would allow city residents to vote on whether the city should allow alcoholic beverage sales on Sunday.
“This is not going to happen with the passage of this bill, but by the vote of the people,” Todd said. “We are requesting that the people in the city have the opportunity to vote on this.”
Todd said he expects public support for Sunday alcohol sales, and it could mean considerable additional revenue for the city.
He said lake visitors are stopping in Leeds because they want to have a beer or wine when they arrive at the lake.
He said when those people stop in Leeds they are buying more than just beer and wine; they are buying groceries and gas, as well as other items.
“We’re not only losing the alcohol sales tax, but gasoline and grocery taxes before they get here,” Todd said shortly after the resolution was unanimously passed by the council last year.
The resolution did draw some opposition because of religious beliefs, but it was unanimously passed by the mayor and council.
Todd said there are no alcohol sales during church hours.
The proposed bill states businesses can only sell alcohol on Sunday between noon and 9:30 p.m.
Todd said by having the referendum during the August municipal elections, it could mean more voter turnout.
“Someone who might not make it to elect a city council person, would vote it if it meant they could buy beer on Sunday, and vice versa,” he said.
Todd also said Sunday alcohol beverage sales could help change the way national restaurant chains look at Pell City.
The proposed ballot would simply ask voters, “Do you favor the legal sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages within the municipality, on Sunday between 12 p.m. (noon) and 9:30 p.m., and on those Sundays on which occurs New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31) after 12 p.m., (noon)? Yes…..No…..”
The city is required to advertise the election and apprise the voters of the municipality at least three weeks prior to the date of the election.
In accordance with the proposed resolution, the cost of the election “shall be paid out of the general fund of the municipality.”
“If a majority of the voters voting in the municipal election vote “No”, alcoholic beverages may not be sold or dispensed in the municipality…., except as otherwise authorized by law or subsequent election which legalizes the sale and dispensing of alcoholic beverages on Sunday.”
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