Mayor: Let's put Sunday sales to vote

COVINGTON — Mayor Kim Carter said she wants to let voters decide whether alcohol should be sold on Sundays within city limits.

The Georgia Legislature passed a bill this session allowing cities and counties to hold referendums to sell alcohol in their jurisdictions on Sundays. Gov. Nathan Deal has not yet signed the measure into law.

"It's my intent to put it before the voters," Carter told the City Council on Monday night, adding that the city's legal counsel will need to research the requirements for the referendum and the council will have to formally pass a resolution before it can take place.

In other news, Covington will be a host for the Georgia Cycling Grand Prix in July. Formerly known as the Gwinnett Bike Fest, the race is expected to draw more than 500 riders from July 20-24. It is scheduled to be in Newton County from July 22-24 and include several open road races along with a criterium to be held downtown on Saturday, July 23, that will feature about eight races between the hours of 2 and 8 p.m. and will require closing of numerous streets.

Pete Sherrard, one of the event organizers, said the Covington event will draw the largest number of riders. Participants come from all over the Southeast for the race, he said. Covington will be featured in event marketing materials and information about the town will be handed to riders on race days, he said, adding that some racers are expected to stay in town at local hotels.

The council agreed by a vote of 4-2 to host the race, with Councilmen Keith Dalton and Chris Smith opposed.

Finally, in an effort to be more business friendly, the council approved the first readings of two ordinances to pro-rate fees paid by businesses. The first ordinance would allow new businesses to pay half of owed occupational tax fees if they open between July 1 and Dec. 31. Businesses that open during the first six months of the year would pay the entire fee.

The second ordinance would allow alcohol license fees to be prorated on a monthly basis. Currently, if a business opens in December, for example, applicants are required to pay the full year's fee and then pay another year's fee in January. The new ordinance would require them to pay only for the months left in the current business year, with a full year's fee to be paid the following January.