By Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times
Fulton citizens may soon have to vote on whether or not to legalize the sale of beer and light wine within the city limits.
A Fulton special interest group known as the Concerned Citizens for Fulton’s Future is currently seeking the necessary support to bring the sale of beer and light wine within the city limits to a vote.
According to Fulton Mayor Paul Walker, the group has collected close to the required number of signatures necessary for a referendum to be set. By law, the petition needs to be signed by at least 20 percent of the city’s registered voters. In Fulton, that means rough 420 signatures. Although the mayor didn’t give an exact number, he said the petition is between 40 and 60 names short.
If the petition attains the required number of signatures, the Fulton Board of Aldermen will be required to set a special election within a minimum of 30 days of the board’s meeting. Fulton residents can then either vote FOR or AGAINST the sale of beer and light wine within the city limits.
City officials will be able to decide the specifics of alcohol sales, including whether or not to limit them to on-site retailers – restaurants – or permit their sales in other markets.
Alcohol sales outside the city limits will still be illegal.
Signatures on the petition have to be checked and verified by city officials. So far, all of the signatures that have been checked have been verified as genuine.
The petition follows last year’s passing of Senate Bill 2497, which allows any county seat or city of more than 5,000 people to hold a municipal election to decide alcohol legalization if its county has previously voted on and rejected it. In order for it to come to a vote, a petition featuring a certain percentage of signatures, based on the population of that municipality, must be verified.
Fulton is far from the first municipality to see an alcohol sale referendum petition making the rounds: In March, voters in Ripley were mailed petitions calling for an alcohol referendum. That same month, New Albany voters passed a law allowing for beer and light wine sales, which takes effect next week. Last week, Tishomingo County voters passed beer and light wine sales in their county.