State takes up Sunday alcohol petition today

September 16, 2009 9:54:00 AM

Tim Pratt -


STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi Tax Commission was scheduled to meet this morning to consider the city of Starkville''s request to allow restaurants to sell liquor and wine on Sundays. 


And Tupelo city officials Tuesday reversed a century-old ban on the Sunday sales of beer and light wine in restaurants and stores. 


The Tax Commission met Tuesday and discussed the city''s request, though no decision was made, Spokeswoman Kathy Waterbury said. 


"They received information requested at the last meeting, including a great number of letters from the Starkville community," Waterbury said Tuesday afternoon. "They have determined they will consider (Sunday sales) again tomorrow morning. They may or may not make a decision." 


The Tax Commission was scheduled to meet at 8:30 a.m. this morning, and Starkville''s Sunday alcohol proposal was "one of the first things on the agenda," Waterbury said. 


The Starkville Board of Aldermen in August voted 4-3 in favor of allowing Sunday beer and light wine sales in grocery stores, restaurants and convenience stores. An example of light wine would be a wine cooler. 


For restaurants to sell liquor and regular wine on Sundays, Aldermen sent a request to the Tax Commission. The Tax Commission''s Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control regulates liquor and wine sales throughout the state.  


The Sunday alcohol sale issue divided the city this summer, with some residents opposed to the measure due to religious, moral and safety concerns. Proponents of Sunday alcohol sales, however, cited the economic impact the move would have on the community, not only in attracting more businesses, but also increasing revenue at existing establishments. 


The Tupelo City Council made their decision Tuesday night in a split vote and will allow Sunday sales from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. 


The new law does not effect regular wine and liquor, both of which still are banned for sale on Sundays. 


Four council members voted in favor of Sunday sales; three voted against it. 


Mayor Jack Reed Jr. said he will not veto the measure, which goes into effect in 30 days. 


The Columbus City Council Sept. 1 approved extended weekday alcoholic beverage sale hours and Sunday liquor sales. The mayor cast the deciding vote; the City Council was split 3-3. 


The decision still must be approved by the Mississippi Tax Commission before it is enacted. 


Meanwhile, West Point awaits response from the Alcoholic Beverage Commission on whether or not The Ritz Theater, which includes a restaurant and spaces to be used as a conference center, performing venue or movie screening room, a downtown business will be given resort status will be allowed resort privileges -- including the freedom to sell alcohol every day, with unrestricted hours. 


This story contains reporting from The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.