By Joe Potter
Enjoying a beer with that Buccaneers pre-game show just moved a step closer to reality in Zephyrhills.
City Council members have agreed to a second reading and public hearing of a proposed ordinance that would allow beer and other alcoholic beverages to be sold starting at 11 a.m. Sundays.
Zephyrhills is the only city in Pasco County that doesn’t allow beer and alcohol to be sold before 1 p.m. on Sundays. Elsewhere in Pasco County, alcohol sales begin at 11 a.m., with San Antonio cranking up sales three hours earlier.
During the Aug. 23 meeting, council members Ken Compton, Tim Urban and Jodi Wilkeson voted in favor of earlier sales hours. Council president Lance Smith and councilman Manny Funes opposed the measure.
Wilkeson said she supported the proposed ordinance because it would make it more equitable for businesses in Zephyrhills to have the opportunity to sell alcoholic beverages earlier on Sunday. “It seems silly to put our business owners at a disadvantage. I am for it,” Wilkeson said.
“Regardless of what I personally believe, we need to level the playing field when it comes to economic activity in our community. I would support this ordinance,” councilman Tim Urban said.
Councilman Manny Funes, a retired law enforcement officer and administrator, said he was opposed to earlier alcohol sales on Sunday. “I think it all comes down to money. If it’s about money, why don’t we start at 7 a.m. on Sunday? We’re all hypocrites to some degree,” Funes said. He continued that selling alcohol earlier on Sunday would send a signal that Zephyrhills is not a friendly city that treasures hometown values.
Smith, the swing vote last year when a similar measure failed, maintained his resistance to selling alcoholic beverages earlier on Sundays, citing personal reasons. Smith said he was not being hypocritical, adding, “I understand that people are going to use alcohol.”
The Sept. 13 hearing begins at 6 p.m. Approval there would be the final step to making this law within the city limits.