February 11, 2010 10:05:00 AM
WEST POINT -- After recently granting Sunday alcohol sales to Columbus and Starkville, the Mississippi Tax Commission''s office of Alcoholic Beverage Control decided to play fair.
The commission signed an order granting West Point the freedom to offer Sunday alcohol sales Feb. 2, two years after the city initially requested the change. The order took effect immediately for on-site vendors but does not apply to package stores.
Kathy Waterbury, communications director for the State Tax Commission, says the commission was not asked to reconsider the request by anyone. Rather, the change was a "matter of equity."
In announcing the commission''s decision at Tuesday''s meeting of the West Point Board of Selectmen, Mayor Scott Ross guessed the reversal was due to changes in the commission''s personnel.
Waterbury confirmed Ed Morgan did replace commissioner Joe Blount in January of 2009, but she insists that change had no impact on the commission''s decision.
"They went back and looked at their decisions prior to determine the fair thing, and the right thing to do was grant sales to West Point, as well," said Waterbury.
Starkville received permission for Sunday sales in September 2009 and Columbus followed in October 2009.
Ward 1 Selectman Rod Bobo said he wasn''t expecting Ross'' announcement Tuesday.
"I was kind of surprised by it. I don''t remember when the application was made," he said.
Four of the five members of West Point''s board were not in office when the request was submitted in 2008. Ward 4 Selectman Keith McBrayer is the lone remainder from that board.
Bobo says he''d like to see a more restrictive policy put in place.
"If I had my druthers, I would probably be opposed to alcohol sales citywide. I''m all for resort status for certain establishments," he said.
Bobo declined to name any individual establishments, but the Ritz Cafe in downtown West Point has been at the center of a very public request for resort status.
Ward 5 Selectman Jasper Pittman says Sunday sales will help West Point keep more dining dollars in town.
"We''ve got to stay competitive with the surrounding areas or customers will go to other counties," he said.
Pittman and Bobo agree West Point will see an increase in sales tax, but neither would predict a significant spike in revenue.
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