Council and Mayor put the brakes on Sunday alcohol


The regular meeting of the Swainsboro City Council and Mayor took place Monday evening, January 8, 2024, at 6 p.m. at City Hall. Reverend Love of St. Phillips Baptist Church brought an Invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance followed. In public meeting, a second reading of a proposed ordinance providing an additional 3% penalty to original fines for violators of traffic laws in Georgia took place. In later action in old business, council endorsed this ordinance increasing fines by a unanimous vote. A new council member, Quantavius Foster Sr. was sworn in and assumed the seat formerly held by John Parker as the new representative of Ward 5. Foster defeated Parker in a December runoff. Incumbents Jullian Sconyers and D.J. Davis were also sworn in for new terms in their respective wards. A rambling discussion concerning an alcoholic beverage license advertisement took the stage as old business continued. After deliberation, council voted to accept the application for alcohol license of Atul Pandya for advertisement only at 227 West Main Street. In new business, council voted to move two part time employees to full time. Emily Hendley was given full-time status in the Clerk’s department and Austin Woods became a full-time employee in the Fire Department. Continuing under new business, committee assignments were made for all council members. It was not clear if all assignments were completed. In other new business a $23,900 expenditure was approved by council for a new pump at one of the lift stations in the City. Also approved was an expenditure of approximately $55,000 for a 2019 Ford 550 dump truck. The $78.900 disbursements were both approved 6 – 0. Item four under new business was the discussion by City attorney Jon Levis of difficulties surrounding the Sunday alcohol sales vote which passed 236 to 173 in the City of Swainsboro November election. In his presentation Levis described the incompatibility of the new Sunday sales activity with alcohol ordinances that are now in effect. At the end of a lengthy discussion, Levis described the current situation as a “gray area” and suggested that council consider a moratorium on the newly voted-in “Sunday sales” until more work is done on its legality of implementation. Councilmembers questioned why this work had not already been completed prior to the election. The explanation provided cited the possibility that the measure would be voted down and new changes would then not be needed. Councilperson Collins and Foster commented that the City has the responsibility, and must respect the will of the people’s vote. The issue is now tied to other discussion questioning the need for other amendments to long-standing alcohol ordinances. The matter seemed to be far from resolution as the council voted and passed 4-1, a motion to invoke a moratorium and temporarily revoke the right to purchase alcohol on Sunday in Swainsboro. Prior to concluding the business of the open meeting, council returned to the issue of committee appointments. The Mayor asked council to consider appointment of members for the Ethics committee. Attorney Bill McWhorter was nominated by the Mayor for the seat that requires a legal professional. Council voted to table further action on committee assignments. Following this, council voted to go into Executive Session. As of press time no action resulting from that session has been reported.