Athens city council considers Sunday alcohol sales

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ATHENS, Ala. - The Athens city council has a new subject on the table, whether or not to allow Sunday sales in the city.

"The thing about it is, neighboring cities have got it," said councilman Harold Wales. "We're losing people who go over there to have a meal and a beer or a glass of wine on Sundays, which is costing our merchants money, and costing us money in revenue."

There are two ways that decision could come about. In both cases, it would be sent to Montgomery.

In one case, they'd get a referendum to allow the people to vote on Sunday sales. In the other case, the councilmen would ask legislators to allow the council to vote on it themselves.

Getting the voter referendum and the special election would cost the city approximately $30,000.

Timing is a big part of the decision. If the city council votes on it themselves, the results, and effects, could be known and implemented before the end of 2016.

On the other hand, allowing the voters to decide would mean the city would have to wait for the next legislative session. The special election wouldn't take place until the fall of 2017 and would cost the city $30,000. If it passes, it likely wouldn't be implemented until 2018.

"Think about what you could lose just in that short period of time, where we could attract businesses," said councilman Joseph Cannon, who is an advocate of the city council voting on the matter. "We're just trying to allow a fair ground to where any kind of retail would look at Athens and know they can compete with anywhere else."

The city is getting a Buffalo Wild Wings, and Councilman Wales makes the point that Sunday sales are a big part of the sports bar chain's business.

City councilmen say they will decide whether to vote on it themselves, or send it to Montgomery between now and the end of the year.