EUNICE — In a brief special meeting Thursday, members of the Eunice City Council approved adding Sunday liquor sales to the city’s ballot in November.
Voters will decide whether to allow sales of alcohol for on-premises consumption inside the city limits, primarily in consideration of an anticipated liquor license at the city’s golf course.
Although the municipal golf course liquor license has yet to be issued, Thursday was the deadline for presenting ballot questions to the county clerk, necessitating a special meeting Thursday. The city only has one local restaurant with a liquor license.
Hearings for the governmental liquor license for the Eunice City Golf Course are under way.
“We had a preliminary hearing on Monday. The final hearing, I believe, is Sept. 8,” said City Manager Jordan Yutzy. “The state hasn’t given much more information on that. I think they’re waiting to see if they have to do it in person or if they can do it on the phone like the last time.”
Following the final hearing, Yutzy said the license request will be reviewed by state officials before issuance of the license.
“After the final hearing, we’re probably looking at about 60 days out from actually getting it, if we get approved,” Yutzy said.
As worded in the approved resolution the ballot question will read:
“Shall the City of Eunice, New Mexico allow on-premises service of alcoholic beverages on Sundays?”
Mayor Billy Hobbs explained the need for Thursday’s special council meeting, “We got everything cleared and found out Eunice never had an ordinance for Sunday sales, so we had a short time to do it and get it on the ballot. Otherwise, we’d have to wait until March (for a special election).”
By default, according to Yutzy, state law currently considers Eunice as prohibiting Sunday on-premises consumption because there is no ordinance specifically allowing it, with the issue never before having been brought before city voters.
The alcohol sales question is the second issue approved this week to be posed to city voters in the Nov. 3 General Election.
On Monday, the council approved a ballot question for the voters to decide whether to increase the city’s gross receipts tax by 0.375% with revenue to be spent on capital improvements.
The GRT increase question comes from discussions early this year when the council rejected a proposal to impose the increase, choosing instead to let the voters decide.
Shortly after rejecting the increase citizens began a petition that would have required a special election which Yutzy estimated would cost the city about $10,000.
Instead of facing the costly special election, councilors approved a resolution in April promising to put the tax question the next general election.