November 23, 2020

Great taste or no selling? Mississippi town set to vote on beer

Voters there will have the chance to answer that question on Tuesday, Jan. 15, when polling places will open for a special election that has only one item on the ballot — a referendum to allow the sale of beer and light wine within the town limits. From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., registered voters in the town will make the call on a motion “for the legal sale of light wine of an alcoholic content of not more than five percent (5%) by weight and beer of an alcoholic content of not more than eight percent (8%) by weight.”Beer

If the vote succeeds, town aldermen will be required to pass a resolution permitting the sale of beer and light wine. If the vote fails, the town government will pass a resolution prohibiting the sale and will be unable to attempt another vote on the matter for five years.

Next month’s vote was made possible by the expansion of Wesson’s town limits down Hwy. 51 toward Brookhaven. According to Mississippi law, any municipality with a population of at least 1,500 citizens may attempt a beer-sales referendum if it is located within three miles of a city or county that already permits the sale of alcohol.

Wesson annexed about one mile of Hwy. 51 right-of-way south of town earlier this year — the annexation included no homes or private property — that brought its new town limits south of Old St. John Road Northeast in Lincoln County. The new border is exactly three miles from the northernmost border of the City of Brookhaven, just north of Brignall Road Northeast.

After the annexation, a petition containing the names of 20 percent of the 902 registered voters in the town was required before the board could vote to hold the referendum. Aldermen voted unanimously on Dec. 4 to hold the vote.

Liquor sales are already allowed in Wesson, as Copiah County is a “wet” county. But the town has struggled with losses in tax revenue caused by the departure of Newman’s Package Store, which relocated to Brookhaven after the bigger city voted in beer and liquor in June 2013. Another small liquor store still operates in Wesson, but the big crowds that made Newman’s boom for years all came from Lincoln County.

Wesson Mayor Alton Shaw estimates the town has lost between $2,000 and $3,000 per month since Brookhaven went wet — a fair chunk of change in a town of less than 2,000 people.

“It’s not just liquor — people would come up here and buy liquor, then they’d stop and get gas or go into a store,” Shaw said earlier this year. “Anything you sell helps from a tax point of view.”