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Columbus officials eye Starkville controversy

 

Neal Wagner

 

As reports swirled that the state had rejected Starkville''s petition for Sunday liquor sales, Columbus City Council members on both sides of the issue said they were surprised by the ABC decision, and were unsure how it would affect the Friendly City. 

 


"I was under the impression that the tax commission approval was sort of a formality after it was passed by the city government," said Ward 6 Councilman Bill Gavin, who voted in favor of extending the alcohol sales hours. "For what reason the tax commission denied Starkville''s request, I have no idea.  

 


"But we are going to proceed with our plans to mail our request off and just see what happens," Gavin added.  

 


A Starkville alderman said Tuesday that the tax commission''s Alcoholic Beverage Control board Tuesday issued a preliminary denial of Starkville''s request, but state officials Wednesday said that the ruling was not final and it was weighing the request further. 

 


The Columbus City Council voted Tuesday to send a similar petition to the tax commission requesting Columbus be allowed to extend its on-premises weekday alcohol sales hours and sell wine and liquor on Sundays. 

 


Because Columbus'' request to extend its alcohol sales hours must also be reviewed and approved by the tax commission, several city officials said they "took notice" when the Starkville announcement was made. 

 


"Right now, I don''t understand why they didn''t pass it over in Starkville," Columbus City Attorney Jeff Turnage said. "It seems that nine times out of 10, the tax commission approves requests like that. 

 


"I''ve tried to call down there and see why they didn''t approve it, but they don''t want to say much right now because their opinion hasn''t been published yet," Turnage added. "But the plan is to send our petition off tomorrow (Thursday). They should review it during their meeting on the 15th." 

 


Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem, who voted against the sales extension "at the request of (his) constituents," also said he will be anxiously waiting to learn the tax commission''s decision. 

 


"It''s definitely going to be interesting to see how the state votes on this issue now," Karriem said. "I think it has sort of become more of a moral issue for the ABC than an economic issue."

 

 

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