During their regular council meeting last week, city officials of Waco were asked by a local businessman to consider approving beer and wine package sales inside the city limits.
Kris Patel, owner of the Waco Mini Mart on Highway 78, attended the council meeting on Monday, Aug. 5, to petition the city to approve a license allowing him to sell beer and wine at his store.
The council has two options: to approve an ordinance allowing businesses to purchase a license to sell beer and wine, or place a referendum on the ballot allowing voters to decide whether or not to allow the sale of beer and wine.
Two years ago, the city placed a referendum on the ballot and allowed voters to make the decision. Only 58 of the city’s nearly 300 registered voters came out to cast their ballots on the referendum. The referendum did not pass. Only 21 residents voted in favor of the measure, while 37 voted against it.
Patel asked the council members to consider putting it on the ballot again or approve an ordinance in support of beer and wine sales, saying the city was missing out on revenue.
“I’ve been talking with the sales representatives from Miller and Budweiser, and they tell me with the kind of traffic I have at my store, which is around 600, I could sell 250 cases of beer a week,” Patel said. “That could mean an extra $280 to $300 a week to the city in taxes.”
Councilman Bob Shealy admitted that the city was in need of funds.
“I recommend we put it on the ballot again,” he said. “We need to come up with some money some way or another.”
While none of the council members were in support of alcohol as a lifestyle and stated they were concerned about the affect it has on our society, they admitted that since it was a legal substance and people are going to purchase it if they wish to, it would be beneficial to the city if the tax dollars stayed in Waco rather than going somewhere else.
“I think the people need to vote on it if possible,” Councilman Doug Brock said. “I hate for us to loose the income we’re loosing now, because if we have more pump stations go down, we’ll be hurting.”
Councilman Bill Campbell said he would not object to it being place on the ballot, either.
“We can leave it up to the townspeople,” he said.
The council asked City Clerk Sherry Morgan to look in to whether or not they had time to get the referendum placed on the November ballot. In the meantime, the council approved a motion to place the referendum on the ballot as long as it is possible to go through all the legal steps in time for the election.
In other news, Shealy announced that he would not be running for reelection for is spot on the council this year. Campbell’s post will also be up for reelection, and Gerry Pounds has announced he intends to run for Shealy’s post, which will leave his post open as well. Qualifying will be open from Aug. 26 to Aug. 31 at a cost of $60.
Morgan also announced that plans for the Sept. 14 Waco Fest were coming together. Brock offered to handle parking for the event with the help of volunteers. Brock also recommended that Shealy be named the Grand Marshal for the parade in honor of his many years of service to the council and to celebrate his retirement. The rest of the council agreed.