Sugar Hill to allow vote on Sunday alcohol sales

SUGAR HILL — Gwinnett County’s third largest city made an example of itself in two ways Monday.

At its monthly public meeting, the Sugar Hill City Council voted to put Sunday package alcohol sales to public vote in November, as well as to hold its millage rate steady despite plummeting real property assessments. Both decisions were exemplary for a city focused on being such, as it leaped to the fore among municipalities embracing a newly allowed alcohol vote and vowed to stay its budgetary course through fiscal belt tightening.

“Putting the decision to the citizens always works best,” Councilwoman Susie Gajewski said of state government having allowed local vote on Sunday sales beginning this month.

Councilman Marc Cohen, who brought Sunday sales to council vote, felt it was important that Sugar Hill be among Georgia’s earliest municipalities to do so.

“We’re a progressive city, and I want us to be in the forefront,” he had said at the council’s monthly work session last week. “Since the legislature has given cities the opportunity to allow Sunday sales, I felt it was important to open it up to our residents.”

Sugar Hill will hold its millage rate at 3.8 for the 2011 budget year, despite a decline of more than $200,000 in property tax revenue in 2010 and an estimated $230,000 this year.

Gajewski praised the city for being ambitious with its roughly $30 million budget in an economic downturn, including begin a $14 million downtown streetscape and city hall, complete 67-acre Gary Pirkle Park and continue renovation of 57-acre E.E. Robinson Park.

“It’s amazing what we’ve done,” she said of Sugar Hill having not increased its millage rate for 14 years despite economic recession. “We continue to do so much.”