Before the bill was even signed into law, the city of Dunwoody planned a discussion of Sunday alcohol sales for the city council’s May work session.
“When the Legislature approved it, I knew we needed to get this started in advance of November when our elections are,” said Dunwoody Councilman Danny Ross.
Ross said he was quick to put the matter on the city council’s agenda because he believes it is something city residents should have an opportunity to decide.
“I think people ought to make the decision of how the community should operate,” Ross said. “Government needs to be less involved in our daily activities.”
Other metro-area governments haven’t yet broached the topic of Sunday sales, preferring to spare taxpayers the cost of a special election.
DeKalb County Commissioner Kathy Gannon said it will likely be next year before the commission discusses Sunday sales. The county will hold its next election in 2012 and is expected to put a Sunday sales referendum on the ballot then.
“There are so many huge things we’re dealing with, primarily going broke, that this really hasn’t come up on the radar screen,” Gannon said. “The discussion would be more about when and what ballot to put it on. We’ll have presidential primaries, our primaries, the general (election). So there will be a bunch of them next year.”
Gannon said she has received several calls from residents wondering if DeKalb would put Sunday sales before voters.
“There’s definitely interest there,” Gannon said.
DeKalb Commissioner Jeff Rader said he supports giving voters the option of buying alcohol on Sundays.
“I will vote for it and if no one proposes to put it on the agenda, I would be willing to sponsor it for balloting. DeKalb is a very diverse county and this represents a matter of personal convenience and preference for those interested in making package purchases. We’ve got people of all faiths in DeKalb County. Sunday prohibition is primarily … oriented toward the Christian Sabbath,” Rader said.
Atlanta and Sandy Springs haven’t made any formal plans either.
“We do not have an agenda item or a time set to do a discussion about the Sunday sales. I know there hasn’t been any discussion or any interest in holding a special election. Rather, it would probably be tied in with another election the city has or the county might have,” said Judy Parker, a spokeswoman for the Sandy Springs city council.
“No legislation has been introduced by the Atlanta City Council as of yet to schedule a referendum on Sunday liquor sales in the city,” Atlanta City Council spokesman Dexter Chambers said in an email.
Bob Dallas, former director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety under Sonny Perdue, is a Dunwoody resident who cautioned the Dunwoody City Council at its last meeting to make sure the city is ready if the council votes to put Sunday sales on the ballot.
Dallas said a community has to have strong public safety and a “community culture that recognizes we’re not going to tolerate impaired driving” before considering Sunday sales.
“If you’re just doing it to get more revenue, you’re not prepared,” Dallas said. “This is not a balance ledger argument. It’s a public safety argument.”
He said making sure those things are in place before putting Sunday sales on the ballot will strengthen the community overall.
“If you are better at preparing you will make your whole week better, not just that day,” Dallas said.