Sunday alcohol tabled again in Oxford

By ERROL CASTENS / Daily Journal Oxford Bureau

OXFORD – After revisiting the results of a several weeks’ study into how Sunday alcohol sales might be legalized on a limited basis, some Oxford officials say they’re done with the issue.
A task force appointed to study the issue had recommended unanimously that the city pursue Sunday hours to accommodate the choices of both visitors and residents and to encourage more downtown restaurants to open on Sundays. The recommendations included increased local and state enforcement of the 25-percent food sales threshold required for a state liquor license, restaurant sales limited to 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m., and store sales of beer and light wine from noon to 6 p.m.
“We’ve had public hearing after public hearing, and we’ve discussed this among ourselves,” Mayor George “Pat” Patterson told aldermen at a called meeting on Friday. “We started this process in the potential hope of dividing what we consider ‘restaurant’ sales and ‘bar’ sales, but it became apparent pretty quickly that that was not going to work.”
Patterson noted his reservations about the city’s auditing of restaurant sales.
“We are going to move ourselves into a position of closing some of these establishments … or we’re going to wink at the law,” he said. “I think we need to leave the auditing function to the State Tax Commission.”
He also reported that Police Chief Mike Martin had expressed reservations about enforcing the split legal sales hours.
As a result, Patterson said, “This issue will not come up by me, my administration, unless y’all make a motion.”
A straw poll of the aldermen indicated four have no plans to make such a motion. Alderman-at-Large John Morgan, Ward 3 Alderman Janice Antonow and Ward 6 Alderman Brad Mayo and said they were not ready to propose anything specific but they also weren’t ready to drop the issue.
“We reserve the right to put it on the agenda,” Antonow said. “I’m not ready to make a decision on this.”
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.