Times-Journal endorses Sunday alcohol sales referendumPublished 10:31am Monday, November 5, 2012
Tuesday voters in Dallas County will have to decide on whether to vote for, or against, Sunday alcohol sales in Dallas County. The sale of alcoholic beverages in general is a touchy subject and those on either side of the issue are passionate in their beliefs whether they should be allowed or not.
We fully understand the moral issues that those who are against Sunday sales have. If alcohol is available for purchase on Sundays, it doesn’t mean people will be compelled to purchase it if their beliefs compel them not to. It’s a personal choice, the same choice that is made the other days of the week.
Proponents point to the fact that alcohol can be purchased Monday through Saturday, so why not include Sunday, giving residents the choice they have the remainder of the week. Sunday sales would also minimize many in the county who cross county lines on Sunday to purchase alcohol in Lowndes, Wilcox and Perry counties where Sunday sales are legal.
Those in favor also point to Sunday sales as a way to generate more tax dollars, estimated to be from four to six percent on the sale of beer alone, which could be used to supplement the cost of providing essential services for residents of the county.
One other aspect of Sunday sales would be to effectively shut down bootleggers, who currently sell alcohol on Sunday at higher prices without paying appropriate taxes or without regard to who they’re selling to. These illegal operations create an additional strain on an already overburdened police force whose job it is, with very limited resources, to enforce the current ban on Sunday alcohol sales.
Additionally, Selma is a historic city that draws tourists from all over the world. Cities with Sunday alcohol sales point to their ability to more easily draw tourists, conventions and other events to their communities when they have Sunday sales.
“Cities with Sunday sales attract more conventions than cities without,” said Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Department. “Meeting places are (unable) to attract conventions on weekends that overlap with Sunday if they do not have alcohol sales.”
Sunday sales can also make Selma more attractive to restaurant chains that sell alcohol on Sundays, something that in the past had prevented restaurant growth in other cities such as Decatur, where voters legalized Sunday sales in 2010. Following Decatur’s vote to legalize Sunday sales, a national restaurant chain – Olive Garden – announced they were locating a restaurant there, creating more tax dollars and needed jobs. Could that happen here? It’s not a given, but retail economic development is a very competitive business and we need to position ourselves to compete with other cities for retail jobs.
The vote to stay dry, or go wet on Sunday is a moral decision as well as one based on economics and safety. We feel the legalization of Sunday sales as proposed between the hours of noon and 9:30 p.m. is one the voters of Dallas County should approve.