City benefits from alcohol tax revenue

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More than $80,000 in first four years

By Calen McKinney

Considering revenue generated from fees and licenses and a nonexistent rise in alcohol-related crime since, Campbellsville going moist has had little impact.

It’s been a little more than four years since the first alcoholic drink was poured at a Campbellsville restaurant after voters said they want the city to be moist.

Since then, about $80,000 has been generated and there haven’t been any more DUI arrests than normal.

In May 2008, voters living within the city limits approved the sale of alcohol in restaurants seating at least 50 people as long as drinks are served in conjunction with a meal. Restaurants must derive at least 70 percent of their income from the sale of food. The measure passed by 74 votes.

According to the city’s ordinance, restaurants are only permitted to serve alcohol from 6 a.m. to midnight on Mondays through Saturdays. All alcohol served must be served with a meal, and customers can’t order only drinks.

The city’s alcohol license ordinance states that businesses pay a $1,000 annual alcohol license fee and an 8-percent annual fee based on the restaurant’s alcohol sales receipts. Once the business pays the $1,000 license fee, according to the ordinance, it receives a $1,000 credit on the sales fee. Since the first drink was served, the city has received $80,339.45 from alcohol taxes and license fees. A breakdown of the amount collected each year is included in a sidebar to this story.

City Clerk Cary Noe says the city is generating about $20,000 a year from the alcohol fees and licenses. And that amount is budgeted in the city’s $9.6 million 2012-2013 budget.

“That would not pay one month utilities,” she said. “But it helps.”

She said the city didn’t know how much revenue to expect from alcohol sales, and it hasn’t become a large part of the budget.

“It’s just a service,” she said. “I think we’re doing about all we can do.”

Four Campbellsville restaurants have alcohol licenses and are serving drinks, according to Allen Crabtree, local Alcoholic Beverage Control officer. Those include Fiesta Mexico, Colton’s Steak House & Grill, Garcia’s Restaurant and Yamato.

Snappy Tomato has requested paperwork to get a license, Crabtree said, though the business hasn’t submitted it yet.

Café Bonin, the restaurant where the first drink was served after the alcohol measure passed, closed in August.

According to city budget figures, Café Bonin accounted for $9,402.50 of the taxes and license fees collected since 2008.

Crabtree said the process of getting an alcohol license can be lengthy, taking from 60 to 90 days to get the proper local and state approvals.

The first step in the application process is publication of a notice of intent to apply for a liquor license. An extensive background check is conducted at the state level and several officials must inspect the business.

Crabtree said he has met with various officials to discuss whether the alcohol measure has had any impact on crime in Campbellsville.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “None that I’m aware of.”

And the same is true with DUI arrests near restaurants that serve alcohol.

“To date, there have been zero.”

Crabtree said he believes that could be because all of those who will serve alcohol are required to go through intensive training that discusses when to stop serving someone, how to tell if a person has had too much to drink and much more.

“It’s been pretty good,” Crabtree said.

Campbellsville Police Chief Tim Hazlette said he believes the alcohol measure has had little, if any, effect on the local DUI arrest rate.

“Drunk and disorderly calls don’t seem to be what I would call significant.”

In 2008, Campbellsville Police made 104 DUI arrests. The number decreased in 2009 to 98 arrests. In 2010, police arrested 113. Last year, the figure totaled 153. And so far this year, officers have arrested 87 people.

Hazlette said having Marion County, which is a wet county, as a neighboring county, could have lessened the impact of Taylor County becoming moist.

“Possibly being neighbors to a wet county lessened the social impact,” he said.

Since the city became moist, Hazlette said, he doesn’t believe alcohol-related crimes have increased. He said he isn’t aware of juveniles attempting to purchase alcohol at restaurants.

Going moist or wet is sometimes billed as a way to help a town raise its revenue, Hazlette said.

“For me, it’s a moral issue,” he said.

Having worked in dry, moist and wet areas, Hazlette said, he isn’t sure that the distinction had a significant impact on crime in any of them.

Campbellsville Mayor Tony Young said the city didn’t know how much revenue to expect to be generated from alcohol fees. But the fees brining in about $20,000 a year has helped the city’s budget, especially to pay for the cost to enforce the city’s codes and ordinances.

“It absorbs the cost to enforce the ordinance,” he said.

Young said he has heard of no problems caused by Campbellsville going moist.

“It’s been very smooth,” he said. “No issues have been brought up at all that I’m aware of.”

Though there haven’t been any problems reported, Young said, merchants requested that there be discussion about allowing the sale of alcohol on Sundays. That issue hasn’t yet been brought to the Campbellsville City Council for discussion, he said, though it could be. Young said he believes residents should also be involved with making that decision.

“That’s not something I’m going to have input in, pro or con,” he said. “I think that should be a local decision.”

By the Numbers
Listed is the revenue the city has collected from alcohol tax and license fees each year since the first drink was served in October 2008.
2008 - $3,000
2009 - $7,760.34
2010 - $20,956.67
2011 - $26,786.68
2012 - $21,835.76
Total - $80,339.45