“From a religious standpoint, I could not vote for it, but as a city councilman, I couldn’t vote to deny the chance for people to vote,” said Councilman Terry Templin, who along with Councilman Jay Jenkins abstained from the vote at Monday morning’s council meeting.
Both said they abstained from voting because of religious beliefs.
“I abstained because I don’t want to deny the people the right to vote,” Jenkins said, adding that he would vote against Sunday alcohol sales if a referendum on the issue was up for a vote by Pell City residents.
Council President James McGowan and Councilwomen Dot Wood and Sharon Thomas voted to advertise a referendum for Sunday alcohol sales, if a bill allowing residents to vote on the matter successfully works its way through the state Legislature.
“This is not an indication that you support the bill itself,” city attorney John Rea told the council before the vote.
He said public notifications are required before the local legislation can be introduced in Montgomery.
Rea said the city must have the notification published, along with the actual proposed bill, for four consecutive weeks before the proposed legislation can be introduced for a vote by state lawmakers.
A copy of the proposed bill was published in the St. Clair News-Aegis, but Mayor Joe Funderburg said the public announcement relating to Sunday alcohol sales was published prematurely.
“It was a screw-up,” the mayor said. “It was my fault. I take full responsibility for it.”
Rea said that ad will not count as a part of the advertisement.
Wood said at last week’s council work session that the council never approved the advertisement and the city should not foot the bill, even though Funderburg apologized for the mistake.
“Joe is going to have to pay for that,” Wood said.
Officials said the council could approve paying for the ad, once the expense is presented as part of the monthly bills.
Funderburg said the placing of the ad was not a deliberate act to circumvent the council or to do anything for spite.
“It was just an oversight,” Funderburg said.
In past years, Pell City councils have approved at least two separate resolutions asking the local delegation to introduce a local bill so residents could vote on whether to have Sunday alcohol sales.
The resolutions never received the necessary full support of the local delegation.
The council did not introduce or approve a resolution, but only approved advertising the bill so it could be introduced as a local bill in Montgomery.
City officials said a group of local businesses hired a lobbyist to help move the proposed bill through the state House and the Senate.
The Lincoln City Council approved a resolution in support of a referendum and last week the Riverside City Council also approved placing a public notice of a referendum for seven-day alcohol sales.
If the bills work their way through the House and Senate, Riverside and Pell City residents will then have the opportunity to vote for or against Sunday alcohol sales in their respective cities.
Contact David Atchison at firstname.lastname@example.org.