Alcohol regulations will not appear on November ballot

Ward 3 Alderman David Little (courtesy)

Ward 3 Alderman David Little moved back on comments he made Monday in favor of the proposed changes to the city’s alcohol restriction being put on the November special election ballot.

Little told the SDN he wanted the people to have a voice in the matter, but said the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office informed city officials it was too late to add the matter to the ballot in November.

Little also said a city can’t place a referenda on a county election ballot and if the matter is to be brought to a vote, the city would have to go through the appropriate process of determining whether an election can be held for a non-binding referendum.

From a cost standpoint, Little said he did not think an election on the matter would be possible and the likely course of action would be for the public hearings to move on as scheduled so each alderman can make an informed decision.

“I think as a board we should make a decision it should go forward,” Little said. “We'll hear that kind of feedback over the next two meetings, one way or the other, and I’m sure there will be pro’s and con’s from both sides.”

Starkville City Clerk Lesa Hardin said via email it would cost approximately $6,761 for a machine election to be conducted, while a paper ballot election would total approximately $3,230.

Little said despite some citizens having reservations about speaking for or against the proposed regulations in a public forum, he is willing to hear from both sides.

“I’m just open to listening to what they've got to say,” Little said. “I’ve always been a business-minded individual.”

Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill - who has been a vocal supporter of changing the city’s alcohol regulations - said a non-binding resolution for a change to an ordinance that is in compliance with state law does not rise to the level of needing public input from a specific election.

“That is the reason we have multiple opportunities and ways to provide public input,” Spruill said.

If approved, the new regulations would adapt the minimum state statutes of allowing the sale of alcohol to be at least 100 feet from a school or church. Starkville’s current restriction is 250 feet.

The changes to the alcohol ordinance would also allow the sale of beer with an 8 percent alcohol content while the current restriction sits at 5 percent.

Additionally, restaurants and bars would have the ability to sell alcohol up to 1 a.m. each day of the week.

The Board of Aldermen voted 4-3 last week to move forward with the public hearings, with Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver, Vice Mayor and Ward 6 Alderman Roy A’. Perkins and Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn voting against.

Public hearings on the issue are scheduled for Sept. 5 and Sept. 19.