By Chris Day
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Payne County residents will vote on two county referendums in the Nov. 6 general election.
Monday, Payne County commissioners voted 2-1 to let voters decide if restaurants could sell wine and strong beer on Sundays.
Commissioners Gloria Hesser and Jim Arthur voted to put the issue on the ballot. Commissioner Zach Cavett voted against it.
The Cushing commissioner said he couldn’t vote for any liquor sales measures because it didn’t fit within his Christian beliefs and values.
It was also, Cavett said, a safety and welfare issue.
“If you go somewhere to have a drink with your meal, you still have to drive home,” he said.
Stillwater attorney and entrepreneur Rep. Cory Williams said he couldn’t reach an agreement with a possible commercial tenant because the county doesn’t allow Sunday wine and beer sales, while Tulsa and Oklahoma counties do.
Williams, who is a state representative, told the County Commission Monday that he supported a public vote on Sunday wine/beer sales, but did so as a businessman, not as a legislator.
“It’s a vote for parity for local businesses,” Williams said. “They could sell wine or strong beer on Sundays, but if they don’t want to they don’t have to.”
The liquor sales referendum joins a 1/16th-cent addition to the county sales tax. It would raise the sales tax to 8.8125 percent. The tax money will be available to the county’s five volunteer fire departments for equipment purchases.
Payne County already sets aside a 5 percent portion of the 3/8-cent sales tax it receives for volunteer fire department equipment. An additional 1/16 cent tax is expected to generate an additional $610,000 a year for the county’s volunteer fire departments.