County Council Races to Put Sunday Alcohol Sales on Ballot

WINNSBORO (Aug. 11, 2016) – If County Council passes by Sept. 9 an ordinance allowing the Sunday sale of alcoholic beverages in Fairfield County, that will put it on the Nov. 8 ballot as a referendum for the people to decide if they want Sunday alcohol sales, County Administrator Jason Taylor told members of the Public Affairs and Policy Committee Monday evening.

And with that, the Committee fast-tracked Ordinance 672, sending it to Council where members passed first reading by title only at their regular meeting less than an hour later.

For the ordinance to be passed by Sept. 9, Taylor said Council would have to call some special meetings. Second reading is scheduled for Aug. 22, a Public Hearing on Aug. 25 and third and final reading on Aug. 29.

The issue came to Council’s attention last month when Lake Wateree resident David Waters brought before Council a petition with about 1,000 signatures calling for Sunday alcohol sales in Fairfield County.

The petition outlined the following reasons for Sunday sales – that Fairfield County businesses are losing sales to neighboring counties and that the increased sales tax would lower property taxes and provide funds for road paving in the County. But Committee member Carolyn Robinson said the sales tax from alcoholic beverages does not go to property tax or road repairs and that neighboring Kershaw and Lancaster counties do not have Sunday alcohol sales. She said only Newberry County currently has Sunday sales and that Chester County will have it on the Nov. 8 ballot.

“I would also like to make it clear that this ordinance is only going to apply to the unincorporated areas in the County, not the towns like Ridgeway and Winnsboro,” Committee Chairwoman Mary Lynn Kinley told the Committee. She said the towns would have to pass similar ordinances if they want Sunday sales.

“I’m not concerned with what folks around us are doing,” Committee member Billy Smith said. “As far as Council is concerned, we’re just offering citizens the opportunity to choose. It’s not about us (Council) choosing when it’s a referendum.”

Taylor noted that the ordinance, as it reads currently, is a model ordinance that will need some tweaking for clarification before second reading.

The ordinance also provides for the issuance of temporary permits for the Sunday sale of alcoholic beverages for non-profit events and for on-premises consumption, as well as beer and wine at permitted off-premises locations.

Smith said the particulars of the ordinance will be spelled out in the posted referendum.