“We started talking about this in 2011, and we concluded that now is the time to petition the legislative delegation,” Muenger said.
“We all discussed this,” Sylacauga Mayor Doug Murphree agreed. “Sylacauga still has 8-percent sales tax, but we need more money without having to raise taxes. So we’re asking for a vote of the people to help us attract more restaurants and more businesses. A lot of the national chain restaurants will look at an area, then ask about population and Sunday sales. If not, they’re going to lose a percentage of the income from not being able to sell alcohol.”
Lincoln Mayor Bud Kitchin added “for Lincoln, (it’s about) being close to the Superspeedway, where you can buy beer on race Sunday at the track. But when people ask where the closest place is that they can buy beer on Sunday, we have to tell them it’s in Jefferson County. And some of them will turn around and head that way.”
Kitchin said “We have four restaurants right around the interstate. Two of them have club licenses, but that’s a little bit more complicated. But we don’t have any more problem with those two clubs on Sundays than we do anywhere else.”
“People that want to drink on Sunday are going to do it anyway,” Muenger pointed out. “They’ll go to a club, they’ll buy extra on Saturday, or they’ll go to Leeds.”
”People should understand, we’re not promoting alcohol,” Murphree said. “We’re just asking to let the people vote.”
Barton added that Anniston and Oxford are likely to take similar steps, and that Pell City had already passed a resolution, but no action had been taken on it.
Muenger said if Sunday sales are turned down, the cities will move on to something else. He said he did not have any specific revenue projections, although something similar had been done in Tuscaloosa, and he would be reaching out to them for some figures.
The Talladega County Commission and the other municipal governments within the county had all been made aware of the proposal, although none of those present Friday would speak on their behalf.
Kitchin said Lincoln had previously approved similar resolutions in 2007 or 2008, and Muenger said Talladega had done so in 2011.
The issue has taken on some immediacy since redistricting. Talladega County is currently represented by one senator and three representatives, but under the redistricting approved last year, the county would be carved up into four senate districts and four house districts. “After that, local bills might be hard to come by,” Muenger said.
“We’re just asking for a vote,” Kitchin said. “Let the people speak.”
“There will be some cost involved,” Murphree said. “But it would be off-set by countywide promotion.”
Barton said he was optimistic on the measure passing if it was put to a vote. “I can remember when Talladega County was dry. The majority of people voted to end that.”
“And if people don’t want it, we’ll move on,” Kitchin said.
“There is nothing more democratic,” Muenger said.
If this initiative is successful, Kitchin said he was thinking about forming a regional mayor’s association to work together on promotion and legislation.
“Anything we can do to help move our cities forward,” Murphree said.
Contact Chris Norwood at firstname.lastname@example.org