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Zephyrhills loosens rule on Sunday alcohol sales

ZEPHYRHILLS — The decades-old ban on Sunday morning beer sales has been lifted in Zephyrhills.

City Council members voted 3-2 Monday evening to approve a new ordinance allowing alcoholic beverages to be sold as early as 11 a.m. Sundays in Zephyrhills — on par with the rest of Pasco County. Council president Lance Smith and council member Manny Funes cast the dissenting votes.

"I'm disappointed in the fact that we're treating Sunday like any other day," Funes said in an interview Tuesday. "My constituents and the people I represent say Sunday is identified with church and not picking up a six-pack. I like the hometown values, and I just don't like being like everybody else."

For years, folks in Zephyrhills had to wait until 1 p.m. to buy beer and wine on Sunday, even as the rest of the county allowed sales at 11 a.m. (San Antonio remains the exception on the other end of the spectrum: Customers there can buy alcohol as early as 8 a.m.)

City Manager Steve Spina and other Zephyrhills officials said the ban hurt local businesses. Residents who wanted to grab a six-pack before a Bucs game or enjoy a beer after a morning round of golf had to go outside the city to do it.

"It's easier when you're consistent with some of the county ordinances and rules," Spina said.

Local restaurateurs Cheryl and Robert Maxon were pleased with the vote.

"I was very excited," said Robert Maxon, co-owner of John's Steak & Seafood House on State Road 54. "It just puts us on a level playing field."

But Smith questioned whether relaxing the ban is good for residents and the city at large.

"I really don't want to promote anybody to drink any more alcohol than they already are," he told the Times on Tuesday.

Also at Monday's meeting, police Chief Jeff McDougal showed off the city's new digital dash cameras that were installed two weeks ago in patrol cars. A $100,000 state and federal grant paid for 18 cameras and global positioning system units that plot the coordinates of each patrol car.

McDougal said many officers like the new cameras because they provide additional documentation of traffic stops.

In 2002, the city started using the VHS dash cameras. But the new ones produce high-quality, digital video that is automatically uploaded to a computer system at police headquarters. The cameras log the video files for up to 4,000 days.

Ebony Windom can be reached at ebony.windom@yahoo.com.

Next year's budget

Expenses increase $2 million

In other news, the Zephyrhills City Council reviewed a final draft of the budget for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. In the draft, city revenue and expenses total $43 million, which is up $2 million over this year's budget. This is the third straight year in which the city has seen a drop in property values. Officials nudged up the tax rate from $5.57 per $1,000 in taxable value to $5.99 per $1,000 to help make up the shortfall. Public hearings for the budget are set for 6 p.m. Sept. 22 and 27 at City Hall.

Zephyrhills loosens rule on Sunday alcohol sales 09/14/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 8:58pm]
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