Selling on the Sabbath

Photo by Kelli O'Toole/TheNews

Story by Matthew Parks, Staff writer

Murray City Council passed a measure on Tuesday allowing the sale and service of alcohol in the city of Murray from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sundays.

The proposal was voted on initially in a special called council meeting on Nov. 17th, and then again in the meeting on Nov. 22nd. In both sessions, the proposal passed 7 – 5.

Votes against the resolution came from city councilors Jeremy Bell, Johnny Bohannon, Linda Cherry, Danny Hudspeth and Butch Sergeant.

Councilman Bohannon attempted to amend the proposal by voting to amend the hours on Sunday alcohol sales from 6am to 7am, rather than the previously proposed hours of 1pm to 1am. Jason Pittman, one of the city councilman in favor of Sunday alcohol sales, said such a motion would “probably restrict the economic benefits of [Sunday sales] to the city of Murray and to potential developments coming to the city.”

The council voted down the amendment, which allowed them to go on and approve the originally proposed Sunday alcohol sales hours.

“I think it will open up some economic revenue streams here in Murray,” Pittman said. “I think the city of Murray is going to realize the additional tax revenue to put towards the bottom line is strictly a benefit.”

Murray city policy states that newly approved ordinances go into effect at the time the mayor’s office posts them in the local newspaper, therefore, Sunday alcohol sales will be in effect come the first Sunday in December.

During the meeting, city council tabled a vote on the ongoing payroll tax situation, a topic which has raised concerns over economic impact on Murray residents and has led to some members of the community creating a petition against it, reaching over 2,400 signatures.

During the city meeting Jack Rose, mayor of Murray, and several city council members said they have received hundreds of emails from upset Murray residents, as well as letters of protest and documents from Jerry Penner, Murray-Calloway County Hospital CEO, and Robert Davies, Murray State president.

While there are still no actual figures as to the exact terms of the proposal or what percentage would be levied – Rose said he wants to establish a vote to move forward with discussion of the tax before narrowing down the details – it has still been met with much resistance.

Tuesday’s meeting was intended to act as a simple “up-down” vote as to whether the council would move forward with discussion of the tax or discard the idea altogether. However, after much heated discussion among the council and speeches from two Murray residents, Wesley Bolin, city councilman, called for a vote to table discussion of the tax until the new year.

The call to table the vote passed 11 to 1, with the only dissenting vote coming from Linda Cherry.

Bolin said he proposed to table the vote in order to give the council, as well as the general public, more time to investigate the tax and examine all the information on the table. He said he believed giving both parties more time to absorb the information would be beneficial and reduce the hostility surrounding the topic, as well as giving more time to generate ideas and solutions.

“I don’t think anyone in the community is well served by quick or rapid action,” Bolin said. “We’ve had a lot of new information coming in quickly… so I think it would be in our best interest to table the action tonight until the new year and the new council. A little education will do a lot of service to this discussion.”

Rose said that since the vote was delayed he will likely put together a committee within the council to better develop a solution for replacing city stickers as a source of tax revenue.

The next city council meeting will be held on December 14th, but the payroll tax will not be discussed further until the new year.