Tupelo council will decide Sunday beer sales

TUPELO – Tupelo will allow Sunday beer and light wine sales starting in mid-October if the City Council amends its ordinance this month as recommended.
Ward 1 Councilman Markel Whittington placed the item on the group’s study agenda Tuesday, and members agreed to act on it at their next meeting Sept. 15.
The amendment would lift the city’s current ban on Sunday beer and light wine sales, making it available at restaurants, convenience stores and grocery stores from 1-10 p.m.
By definition in the Mississippi Code, light wines and beer have an alcoholic content of 5 percent or less.
“It just makes economic sense,” Whittington said. “After going through this budget process and having 52 percent of the city’s revenue derived from sales tax, it’s not a moral issue … it’s an economic issue.”
This will be the first time the current council, which took office in July, publicly tackles the Sunday alcohol issue. Most of the seven members either support it or are at least open to the possibility. Only Mike Bryan, of Ward 6, and Willie Jennings, of Ward 7, flatly oppose it.
At least four members are needed to carry the measure, which doesn’t require a public hearing.
“I think we have enough votes to pass it,” Whittington said, “unless somebody folds under pressure.”
Ordinance amendments typically go into effect 30 days after they are approved by the council and signed by the mayor, said city attorney John Hill.
It doesn’t need approval from the state Tax Commission’s Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control. That agency comes into play only if the city wants to allow stronger alcohol to be sold on Sundays, which it does not at this point.
Mayor Jack Reed Jr. is unlikely to veto a Sunday beer-and-light-wine sales amendment. He had told the Daily Journal during his political campaign earlier this year that he’ll support the wishes of the council on that matter.
Although Sunday alcohol sales generally trigger opposition from residents citing religious or moral concerns, the issue has had the support of restaurant, concert and tourism groups. Officials from those sectors say they’ve lost potential revenue due to dry Sundays.
Supporters include the Tupelo Restaurant Association, the Tupelo Convention amp& Visitors Bureau and the Tupelo Coliseum Commission.
“From our point of view,” said Coliseum Commission Chairman Scott Reed, “it would certainly open the possibility of doing more profitable business for the city if we had alcohol sales on Sunday.”
Starkville recently approved Sunday beer and alcohol sales. Columbus already allows the sale of beer on Sunday and is considering Sunday liquor sales in restaurants and bars.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

Around the region
A few Northeast Mississippi communities allow Sunday beer and light wine sales:
* Aberdeen
* Columbus
* Corinth
* Okolona
* Starkville

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal