Ashland City Commissioners will consider an ordinance today that establishes the rules for Sunday alcohol sales.
Last week, voters in Ashland’s two wet precincts, Moore and Central, approved allowing Sunday sales by a vote of 209 to 50. Voters were asked if they were in favor of approving Sunday sales between the hours of noon and 1 a.m. on Monday.
The ordinance before elected officials today will allow sale of wine, spirits and beer in restaurants and package stores between 1 p.m. and 1 a.m.
It is expected to be approved during the noon meeting at the Ashland City Building. The rules would not take effect until after a second reading, which could take place at the commission’s next meeting on March 21.
City Manager Steve Corbitt said he believes the ordinance crafted for commission consideration “mirrors” the ballot question voters were asked to decide. Although it was the city’s opinion before the vote that the election would only apply to by the drink sales, the change in city ordinance will allow across-the-board alcohol sales in restaurants and package stores.
The commission has had the ability to approve all Sunday sales all along and, after legal consultation with the state Alcohol Beverage Control Office, believe it was the intent of voters to allowing all Sunday sales.
Liquor store owners who first thought they were going to be left out of Sunday business say they are looking forward to opening their doors to serve customers seven days a week, too.
“We’d love to serve our customers any way we can,” said Jimmy Gibbs, owner of Continental Liquors. He echoed restaurant sentiment that not allowing package sales just allows city revenue to be lost to competing states and cities.
“We definitely want them to go through with it,” said Nick Patel, owner of Carter Avenue Beverage. “It will be good for the community. Tax money would stay in the community.”
Neither Gibbs nor Patel will be able to attend today’s meeting because both out-of-town and local alcohol distributors make their deliveries to Ashland on Thursday afternoons. “All the trucks will be here tomorrow. I cannot leave the store,” explained Patel.
According to an analysis of current sales by Ashland staffers, Sunday alcohol sales will boost annual beverage tax revenues by more than $93,000.
Sunday sales in package stores bring in 85 percent of tax revenues, which would grow by an estimated $79,500. Drink sales in restaurants are expected to raise $14,000 in new revenues. Ashland taxes alcohol revenue at a rate of 3.5 percent.
Annual alcohol sales in Ashland topped $16 million last year. They are expected to grow by more than $2.6 million with the addition of Sunday sales.
CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at (606) 326-2653 or by email at email@example.com