Consider Sunday alcohol sales
Published 5:13 am Friday, October 28, 2016
It’s time the city council in Bogalusa allowed Sunday liquor and beer sales.
There’s no secret Bogalusa and the state as a whole is suffering from money woes.
In Baton Rouge, state legislators have increased taxes, cut spending and tried to close various loopholes to raise funds.
But at home, generating more revenue is hard. Regressive tax plans — plans that hurt the poor — are rightly frowned upon and yet local governments cannot easily craft fair plans. States have income tax and business tax schemes they can model to hit the wealthy harder than the working class, but cities and parishes don’t have access to such tax streams. In Bogalusa, for example, most of the city taxes come from sales taxes and property taxes, tax plans that cannot be targeted to any single group. When I buy a package of socks in Bogalusa, I pay as much as the wealthy in taxes. Likewise, when property rates rise, the rate rises for everyone.
But it seems to me by refusing to sell alcohol and beer on Sundays, we’re not only denying ourselves some easy tax revenue. We’re also giving it to our neighboring cities.
As it is, anyone who wants to buy beer on Sunday need only visit Picayune. If you’re in the mood for something stiffer, a quick trip to Slidell should suffice. Indeed, both St. Tammany Parish and Tangipahoa Parish sell liquor and beer on Sundays, so the products are hardly out of reach. And so it is, with a short Sunday drive, that we lose tax money.
And it’s not just liquor and beer tax monies we’re losing. The effect of no retail sales in Bogalusa is that restaurants are reluctant to sell alcohol, too, and so if someone wants to watch a Sunday game, they go to Picayune. If a person wants to take mom out for Mother’s Day, they may go to Slidell. If a person should want so much as a beer with a lazy Sunday lunch, he will drive somewhere else — anywhere but here.
Consider this: Those same people who drive to Slidell to grab a bottle of something at Rouse’s probably buy a few more things, too. Maybe they swing by the Walmart. Maybe they grab lunch. Maybe they just pump gas. The bottom line is, if 20 people stayed in Bogalusa for that weekend grocery trip, we could see thousands extra per year in tax revenue — all from people who are willing to pay the tax and no one else. Goodness knows we need the money and I can’t imagine a fairer system for getting it.
I presume, however, that the reason Bogalusa doesn’t sell beer and liquor on Sundays has less to do with a surplus of tax dollars than it does with a surfeit of morals. I do not doubt local morality has much diminished since our liquor laws were passed. But those morals are unlike our tax coffers, which are very much diminished. We cannot afford to let morality dictate tax policy to the detriment of the city’s financial wellbeing.
Jesse Wright is the managing editor of The Daily News. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at the office at
985-732-2565, ext. 301.