News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Lack of sales on Sunday costing Decatur money

More than a year has gone by since Gov. Bob Riley signed legislation that allows Decatur City Council to call for a vote on the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sunday.

Now, after wanting to schedule the vote at the same time of another election to save money, City Hall is blaming the calendar. The latest target date is the Nov. 7 General Election, but the legislation calls for a vote on a second or fourth Tuesday.

Doggone the rotton luck, the General Election will be on the first Tuesday.

Confounded, council members removed the referendum from its Aug. 21 agenda Monday.

Does City Hall go ahead and find a loophole around the law or does it postpone the referendum until some future date?

Trying to find a way around the law, because the day of the week for holding an election seems inconsequential, might be the best course of action. But some people who don't want Sunday sales might then take the city to court to contest the legality of the referendum and thwart sales while lawyers wrangle in court.

The $50,000 anticipated cost of the referendum could have been paid back by now with some of the extra revenue from Sunday sales. So, that is an argument for City Hall to go ahead and call for the vote. But some proponents of Sunday sales strategize that the referendum's chances of passing are better with a large turnout, like that of a General Election or a primary.

The legislation permits the city to call a second referendum after a year. That being the case, perhaps City Hall should go ahead with a vote as quickly as possible and use the second chance as a backup date if it wants to hold another referendum in conjunction with an election.

That, of course, would be another year or so away.

Councilman Gary Hammon, who said he probably will vote against Sunday sales, still wants the referendum held.

"Let's just throw it out to the citizens. I'm not afraid of democracy," he said this week.

He's correct; it's time for a vote.

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