Commissioners vote against extra fees for Sunday alcohol sales in Augusta

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- You may start seeing a few more doors open on Sundays. Commissioners voted against charging businesses an extra fee to sell alcohol an extra day.

Bill Prince owns Bill's Place, a liquor store in downtown Augusta. He says they pay $5,000 a year to operate.

Since the city increased alcohol fees just last fall, Prince says he pays enough to the city.

"They keep hitting the liquor industry over and over and over to get a certain amount of money. They're so many dollars in the hole; what we can contribute is not going to make a big difference," Prince said.

Now that Sunday alcohol sales have had the green light for eight months, licensing and inspection proposed a fee for businesses that decide to open on Sundays.

"Some people say you don't have to open on Sunday, and that's true, but you don't have to open on Tuesday either," Prince said.

He says if other stores are open, he has to open the doors to keep up.

"To stay in business and compete with everything and to take care of your overhead, you have to open to survive," Prince said.

But commissioners cut business owners like Prince a break on Monday, voting against charging store owners any extra fees to open the doors an extra day.

Rob Sherman, director of licensing and inspection, says, "They have an option of being open or not without having to worry about a cost increase."

Commissioner Joe Bowles says, "When you're competing against North Augusta for alcohol sales, I think it's best to keep the rates as low as we can."

But City Administrator Fred Russell says that decision will come at a cost for the city.

"Obviously, there's a little revenue we're going to lose here, but you've got to weigh that against the demands on the individual businesses," Russell said.

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