The measure, which allows Sunday sales between 12:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m., passed by a total of 89,888 votes for, or 73 percent, to 33,772 votes against, or 27 percent.
On March 6, voters in unincorporated Cobb overwhelmingly passed a referendum allowing Sunday sales. But another vote was necessitated after a challenge was filed by former state Rep. Roger Hines of Acworth, Patricia C. Powers of Kennesaw and four “John Does” representing Cobb’s other four cities. The challenge stated that residents of Cobb cities were disenfranchised because they pay county taxes and are governed by the county, as well as their cities, and should have the right to vote on county issues.
On Wednesday, Hines said he was proud to challenge the previous election.
“I believed (voter approval) would be high, but I still had to make the point that people were disenfranchised,” he said. “The city people should have been given the right to vote.”
Just as with the overall vote, unincorporated Cobb approved the referendum by a 73 percent to 27 percent. But, even though they have all already approved referendums of their own allowing for Sunday sales, the six cities also approved the measure with 73 percent of votes for Sunday sales and 27 percent against.
Both incorporated and unincorporated areas passed the measure by a larger margin than unincorporated Cobb did during the March 6 Presidential Preference Primary, when 70 percent of voters approved it.
Craig Maske, general manager of five Sherlock’s wine, liquor and beer stores, including locations in the unincorporated east Cobb and Town Center areas, said he’ll believe he can sell on Sundays when he sees it.
“We’re wanting to make sure it really passes, because it passed once already,” he said.
Maske said his stores have been hurt by a loss of sales to surrounding cities.
“It’s been business taken out of our pockets,” he said. “We’re waiting to be open on Sunday to have a fair and level playing field with everybody else.”
Sherlock’s also has stores in Decatur, Buckhead and Brookhaven, which have all approved Sunday sales since state laws were changed last year. At those stores, Maske said he has not noticed a large increase in sales; instead the extra day is causing customers to spread their purchases throughout the week.
Though officials don’t know how much the county lost during the five months from the March vote until Sunday sales go into effect, alcohol can mean big revenue for Cobb government. Paul Foster, Cobb County business license division manager, said the county brought in $8.1 million in alcohol taxes and alcohol license regulatory fees in fiscal year 2011.
Rob Hosack, Cobb’s Community Development director, said the county put regulations for Sunday sales in place in advance of the Aug. 12 start date, which was chosen because it gives the Cobb Board of Elections time to certify the vote. So far, 153 retailers have filed “pre-applications” for Sunday package sales licenses with the county, paying $200 to allow sales from Aug. 12 until the end of the year. At the start of 2013, they will have to pay $500 annually to renew their licenses.
While he said he filed the challenge because he felt the cities weren’t represented in the initial vote, Hines said he did vote “no” on the Sunday sales referendum when he got the chance Tuesday.
“I wish they would not, partly because I was a high school teacher for years, and I saw what weekend alcohol did to teenagers,” he said. “That drove part of it.”