Update: Parkersburg City Council advances Sunday alcohol sales measure

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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Parkersburg City Council is moving along in its discussion about earlier alcohol sales Sunday.

Tuesday, a second reading passed to send the measure to the Home Rule Board in Charleston.

The board will most likely give them the green light, like they did for about a dozen other West Virginia cities that approached them. If it does come back to council, members will then vote whether or not to accept it.

They could also amend it. Currently, the request is that Parkersburg businesses be allowed to sell adult beverages at 10 o'clock in the morning Sundays.

"We're losing business and everybody else right on the border too loses business to Ohio and with all us put together with all those people going over to Ohio, it adds up," said Gene Butler, owner of the Polo Club.

"This has been upheld for 65 years. We've never needed to do it. I really don't believe those three hours need to be used," said Roger Brown, Parkersburg City Council member.

Right now, alcohol can only be served Sundays starting at one o'clock in the afternoon. That means sales would start three hours earlier.

The new incoming council members elected in 2016 will be the ones that help decide the issue.

You might get to order alcohol in restaurants earlier on Sundays in Parkersburg. City council approved a measure that's one step closer to making that a reality.

Tuesday, council approved an ordinance authorizing the mayor to submit an amendment to the Home Rule Board. This amendment would allow the sale of alcoholic beverages by Class A license holders starting at 10 a.m. Sundays.

During the public hearing, multiple residents and business owners voiced their opinions. Some are worried about drunk drivers and an increase in DUIs, while others think this could be an economic boost to the area.

The Home Rule Board has to make a decision on the amendment. From there, it will head back to city council.

It's not certain yet whether the West Virginia Legislature will take up the issue of allowing counties to apply for home rule.

And a Kanawha County commissioner has said publicly he's not in favor of the idea.

While Wood County commissioners generally like the idea, there is concern how-or if-they would implement it's most-discussed element: a 1% sales tax.

Commissioner Blair Couch added, however, it might also allow the county to make some zoning changes, particularly near major highways.

"I'm in favor of the discussion," Couch said, "and I think we could do a lot of good with the ability to change rules and regulations."

"Where a 1% sales tax taxes people who come and go into the county," said Commissioner Bob Tebay, "it's a fairer tax, in my opinion."

Among the concerns: implementation of a sales tax might mean the county would be expected to pay for services such as road maintenance, something for which the state now handles funding.

Commission members indicated, before imposing a sales tax for budgeting purposes, they might consider raising the county's property tax levy rate first.

But, even with a tight budget, that's been something they've been reluctant to do.

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