Murray City Council Approves Sunday Alcohol Sales, Tables Payroll Tax Discussion
The Murray City Council has for now tabled discussion of a proposed payroll tax while approving the sale of alcohol on Sundays.
At Tuesday's regular meeting, the decision to postpone discussion on the payroll issue was proposed by newly-elected Councilman Wesley Bolin and passed 11 votes to 1 with Councilwoman Linda Cherry dissenting.
The proposal would implement a percentage tax on every person working within city limits, while rolling back other taxes such as city stickers and property taxes in order to remain ‘revenue neutral.’
But the issue drew contention for purportedly being a greater benefit to Murray residents, while workers living in Calloway County or commuters from out-of-town see a higher tax total. Murray State University President Bob Davies told WKMS last month that a payroll tax would create problems recruiting and retaining high quality faculty and staff at the university.
Mayor Jack Rose says it’s something he’s ultimately in favor of, but he reminded the council that this was something they suggested.
“I think it’s come down that this is a Jack Rose idea," said Rose. "This came from you folks and I want you to understand that and recall it. And there was no time frame on it. But I think if you look down the pike, long range and you look at how this community is growing and I think it’s going to continue to grow, then I think you need to look at something different than city stickers.”
The council held a special work session last Thursday to examine projected models behind such a tax.
Discussion on the issue will likely be taken up at a further meeting or when Mayor Rose assigns it to a committee in the new year.
The council also approved the 2nd reading of an amendment to a 2012 ordinance to allow alcohol sales on Sunday between the times of 1PM and 1AM the following day.
There are 41 licensed businesses in Murray that currently sell alcohol. Business leaders estimate Sundays sales could potentially generate $1.7 million in sales and anywhere between $80,000 to $100,000 in tax revenue to the city.
Before the vote, Councilwoman Cherry questioned why the amendment was described in writing as “reasonable and necessary.”
“Quite frankly, I want to make sure Murray is open for business," said Councilman Jason Pittman. "I think by not allowing that on Sunday we close off a section of potential developments that could come in here, potential restaurants that could come to our community. And I do not think that’s economically smart.”
Councilman Johnny Bohannon, who voted against the ordinance, tried to alter the timeframe of the amendment by suggesting sales occur between the hours of 6AM and 7AM Sunday morning. Pittman responded that he thought that motion would "probably restrict the economic benefit of this" and doubted "a whole lot of developers would line up" for that.
The Sunday alcohol ordinance ultimately passed 7 to 5 with council members Jeremy Bell, Bohannon, Cherry, Danny Hudspeth and Butch Seargent dissenting.
The next full city council meeting is slated for Dec. 14th.