Alcohol vote set for Nov. 5

By By Leada DeVaney, Hartselle Enquirer
Hartselle residents will soon have their say on whether to allow legal alcohol sales in the city.
The referendum on whether to allow legalized alcohol sales is set for Nov. 5. The referendum will be held at the same time as the general election, when voters will be casting their ballots for governor and lieutenant governor, along with a slate of county and state offices.
Hartselle's City Council set the referendum date at Tuesday's meeting after being presented with certified petitions calling for the vote. The council voted unanimously to accept the petitions.
"All we're doing is giving the people of Hartselle the right to vote on alcohol sales," Councilman Frank Jones said. "They've asked us to do that and that's what we're going to do."
Councilmen Allen Stoner said alcohol sales were one of the options to help the city increase its revenue. The other two are tax increases and neither of those is very popular, he said.
"We've looked at raising sales tax or an ad valorum tax increase or wet/dry," Stoner said. "These are the chips we've been given to play with. If you pull those (the tax increases) off the table, you have to look at where the money is going to come from."
While he voted with the rest of the council to accept the petitions and set the referendum date, Councilman Don Hall said he was concerned about the impact alcohol sales would have on the city.
"A significant number of people signed the petition and we have to pay attention to that," Hall said. "I would like everyone to consider the impact it will have on our community. Legalized sales will change the character of our town."
According to City Clerk Rita Lee, 813 signatures were certified on the petition. Organizers needed 798 signatures to bring the issue to a vote.
If the wet/dry referendum passes, Mayor Clif Knight said he is researching the municipal ordinances of neighboring cities in order to have controlling laws ready, a move supported by the Hartselle Ministerial Association.
The laws limit how alcohol is sold in a city, and include things such as whether beer and wine only are allowed, or if all liquor sales are allowed.

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