Voters in Greenville County could decide this fall if they want to allow alcohol sales on Sunday.
The city of Greenville and four other smaller municipalities currently allow Sunday sales, but unincorporated areas in the county are not covered.
Now a Greenville restaurant owner says he has enough signatures to get the question on the ballot in November. Palmetto Restaurant and Ale House Owner David McCraw said he will turn in more than 9,400 signatures, above the 7,500 required, to the Greenville County Election Commission before Monday’s deadline. The commission will spend the next two weeks verifying the signatures are authentic and from Greenville County residents.
McCraw said he worked to get a petition after the county council postponed tabled the proposed referendum last month, working 16 hours a day to gather signatures and raise public awareness through ads and other promotions.
“To a hold a whole county to one standard and allow the county council to be our ‘morality police’ is unacceptable,” McCraw told South Carolina Radio Network. “We have to stand up and be heard and the county council has to realize because they disagree with something doesn’t mean that it’s absolutely forbidden.” McCraw said his and other businesses lose customers on Sundays due to their location outside city limits.
The council blocked the referendum, as those councilmembers who don’t wish to expand alcohol laws were helped by others who worried voters may become confused with another referendum already on the ballot this fall.
That referendum will ask Greenville County voters if they want to add an additional one-percent sales tax to help pay for new road construction and repairs.
He hoped the expanded alcohol sales could mean additional tax money for the county without raising taxes.
But county council chairman Bob Taylor said he thought any extra tax revenue would be offset by problems that stem from alcohol, such as DUIs or crime.
“The government pays out more to deal with the problems of alcohol than we get from the taxes for alcohol,” Taylor said. “It’s a losing proposition financially and the money we’d get from those Sunday sales wouldn’t touch the roads.”
County elections director Conway Belangia hoped his office would be able to finish verifying the signatures within the next two weeks. Elections officials will verify the first 500 names, then select a name at random per every ten after that.
Patrick Ingraham contributed to this report