The board of commissioners voted 4-1 not to place the question of Sunday sales of beer and wine in the county’s unincorporated areas on Paulding ballots in the Nov. 4 general election.
Paulding is among 40 cities or counties to reject Sunday sales of beer and wine since Georgia legislators allowed local governments to put the question before voters in 2011, according to the Georgia Food Industry Association. A total of 230 cities and counties have approved Sunday sales.
Bill Gurski, longtime owner of Crossroads Grocery in Dallas, told commissioners last week he had a petition signed by 800 asking commissioners to put the question on the ballot. Local retailers would see more sales and produce more sales tax revenue for the government, he said.
“The board has two big opportunities – to make people happy and to gain some revenue,” he said.
County resident Ron Davis said the issue was not about increasing revenues but “correcting the mistake” of placing it on the ballot in a special election. Such one-issue elections historically have produced very low voter turnouts in Georgia.
“I don’t believe [1,700 voters] is an accurate representation of the registered voters in the county,” he said.
“You have an opportunity to include this on a ballot in the general election where the highest expected turnout is expected to be present
“I would encourage you to do so, so the decision on this issue can be a more accurate representation of the feelings of the people in the county.”
Sunday sales are legal inside Paulding’s two cities, where Hiram voters overwhelmingly approved them in November 2011 and Dallas voters approved them in November 2013.
However, only about 1,700 of the county’s 80,000 registered voters cast ballots in March 2013 and voted 55 percent to 45 percent against the sales in areas outside the cities in Paulding County.
Two commissioners said voters already had the chance to vote and showed how the majority felt on the issue.
County Commissioner Dave Carmichael said he agreed a November vote might produce a higher turnout and give a clearer picture of how Paulding voters felt.
“But there certainly wasn’t anything holding people back [in 2013], so they did have the opportunity,” Carmichael said.
Commissioner Todd Pownall said numerous county residents called him and other county officials asking commissioners to put the question before Paulding voters after state legislators allowed Sunday sales votes in 2011.
“We did the special election and spent the money on it, and people had the opportunity to [vote on] it,” he said.
Pownall also criticized the process of voting again on an issue after it was defeated in a referendum.
“Sometimes we put things out there to vote until some people get what they want,” he said.
All commissioners, including Tommie Graham and David Barnett, voted against it, while Commission Chairman David Austin voted for it.
The Tuesday action followed Carroll County commissioners’ Aug. 5 decision not to allow a vote this year on sales in unincorporated parts of the county, which borders Paulding.