Brandon liquor vote has supporters, detractors - - The News for South Mississippi

Brandon liquor vote has supporters, detractors

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Monday morning at city hall there was a sea of signs held by citizens urging voters to vote no. Monday morning at city hall there was a sea of signs held by citizens urging voters to vote no.
BRANDON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Across the City of Brandon you'll find signs -- some supporting and some opposing the sale of liquor in restaurants.

Monday morning in the lobby downstairs from the office of the mayor, who supports a yes vote, there was a sea of signs held by citizens urging voters to say no.

The group, called NO-AL, or No Alcohol, says Brandon doesn't have to follow the footsteps of Pearl and Flowood and allow liquor by the glass. They say the state law as it's written opens the door for establishments that sell alcohol only.

Pastor Rick Henson of Oakdale Baptist Church in Brandon says the local civic authority can't change that no matter what they say.

"They could sell 100 percent liquor, but give food (for free) to the customers," Henson says. "And since the state of Mississippi is in the liquor business, the fox is guarding the hen house."

NO-AL urges the city to find another way to raise sorely needed revenue, but Brandon Mayor Butch Lee says the city has been waiting for growth for a long time.

"Two decades. We're falling behind," Lee said.

The City of Brandon is in debt. Mayor Lee says for the past two years it's been borrowing from its own enterprise fund to bridge the financial gap.

"We're trying to break the habit this year, get back to a sound financial standing so when people look at us, like Moody's (credit rating service), that they evaluate us in such a way we can borrow money at a lesser rate," Mayor Lee says. "I don't see this as a detriment. We're at a point, about 23,000 people, where we have to provide services to those people. Law enforcement, fire protection, public works, unfortunately rooftops are not the only thing that will pay the bill."

A group called Better Brandon Now disputes the claim that a local civic authority can't create restrictions.

"What Flowood and Pearl have done is create an ordinance. The statute also gives the cities the right to govern themselves," says Better Brandon Now President Ryan Herndon.

The vote is Aug. 20. 

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