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The staff and management of the area's leading online news source, TheLevisaLazer.com is finally back online after nearly a week of technical work to upgrade to a new version of software, a new web host, GoDaddy.com, and a new site design which is still not in effect but will be soon.
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Meadowbrook -- 126 yes- 79 no
East Louisa 98 yes - 56 no
West Louisa 147 yes- 69 no
Absentees ballots- 13 yes, 12 no
(Editor's Note) The upcoming special election in Louisa on Tuesday, December 16, has raised a lot of questions from a lot of folks who are concerned about the issue of alcohol sales. Even though it is a city wide election in which only residents of the city of Louisa can vote, it affects the whole county.
We recently published an article in which we spoke to the Attorney for the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC), in which he explained procedures, sales, taxes, licensing fees, etc., when a city goes wet. (See article in side bar of local news tab).
However, it seems there is still a lot of confusion and concern. The best thing to do when you want to find out how something works is to ask those who have already been through it. So, we contacted our neighbors who have gone wet recently to find out how it has affected them.
The last cities to go wet on the Country Music Highway is Paintsville, in neighboring Johnson County, and to the northwest of us, neighboring Grayson and Olive Hill in Carter County have voted 'wet' in recent months. We wanted to get the facts from local leaders and law enforcement in those areas so that residents in our area will know exactly what to expect if Louisa goes wet. Here's the response we received:
“It has been almost invisible for us,” said Mayor Bob Porter of Paintsville, which was voted wet a little over four years ago. "The tax on alcohol sales here is set at 5% of gross sales, and the administration fee is tied to the cost as well. The tax is usually set at 3%-6% depending on the area."
"Most of the revenue has come from package sales" he said.
When asked about new restaurants he said, “It is a slow process getting new restaurants in.” He did say that a few restaurants that were already there now serve alcohol.
“It enhances hotels, making them more attractive for conventions to be held.” He expects business to increase he said. "It does bring you out of the dark ages" he said.
Johnson County Judge Executive, Tucker Daniel, said although it is only in the city limits, “It does have an economic impact. Before we went wet, there were some business people here that wanted to put in a restaurant, but when they found out we were dry, that was it, and they left.” When asked if there had been an increase in crime he said, “We have more DUI’s with pills instead of alcohol, that’s what I’ve heard from our law enforcement.”
Dwayne Price, Johnson County Sheriff, said, “We can’t tell a difference at all.” When asked about bars, he said there were only two in Paintsville—JB’s Sports Bar which is located inside the Ramada Inn and Black Diamond.
“We have had absolutely no increase in DUI’s resulting from alcohol. We have more DUI’s from prescription pills than anything else.” He indicated that people in Johnson County don't have to drive very far anymore to buy alcohol now, so they don't seem to be opening it up on the road.
The city of Grayson was voted wet in June, 2013. Mayor George Steele of Grayson was out of the office, but we spoke to Cindy Stratton, City Clerk, who explained the tax situation. We told her there was some confusion here about whether or not the city would receive any tax revenue if Louisa is voted wet.
“You do and you don’t,” she said. She explained that the regulatory fee from alcohol sales has to be put into a separate account, but the licensing/application fees which are $200 a month each year, can be put into a general fund. Money from the regulatory account must be spent on certain things such as increased police protection and alcohol related services. Their tax rate is set at 4% per drink sales, such as in restaurants, and 6% on package sales. She saidthat the city does receive revenue, but it doesn't come directly from sales.
Ms. Stratton said you can also take a percentage of that money to cover the time, salary, retirement, etc., of the employee that is responsible for all of the paper work involved with the process. She said their revenue has increased "significantly".
When asked about restaurants, Stratton said "There is one new restaurant that has come in just because of being able to sell alcohol. The restaurant also houses a sports bar with big screen TV's and they have live bluegrass music there." She said there were already two Mexican restaurants in Grayson before the city went wet. "One now serves alcohol, the other hasn't yet."
When asked about arrests, Stratton said the city police has had no increase in arrests associated with alcohol.
Charles WallaceCarter County Judge Executive, Charles Wallace, said, "We've had no problems. The DUI's have not gone up." He said the revenue increase had been around $60,000. He said there was one package store in Olive Hill and two in Grayson.
As far as new restaurants he said "We are right now on the verge, it's just a matter of time."
On the overall decision for Grayson and Olive Hill going wet, Judge Wallace said, "It has worked very well, especially for Grayson." He went on to say that part of their business comes from Elliot County which is dry and from that end of Lawrence County.
"It would be a plus for you all if you go wet."
Hopefully this will help folks have a better idea of what to expect if Louisa is voted wet next week.
BACKGROUND and new DEVELOPMENTS...
Louisa to hold wet/dry election next week
By Mark GraysonThe Levisa LazerLouisa - A wet/dry election will be held in Louisa on Tuesday, Dec. 16. Kentucky's alcoholic beverage regulations are complex. That often results in many questions from the public. According to Steve Humphries, chief legal counsel for the state Department of Alcohol Beverage Control in Frankfort, there are several limitations that would go with the passage of legalized alcohol sales in Louisa.Humphries said if Louisa voters decide to go wet, their city would be limited to two carry-out alcoholic beverage establishments and no bars would be permitted.The city quota for Quota Retail Package licenses is one license per 2,300 residents, but two licenses is the minimum quota number to prevent a monopoly, Humphries said in an email to The Levisa Lazer.The measure would also allow restaurants to serve alcohol. But they would have to have at least 50 seats and have 75 percent of total sales would have to be from food. It's not known how many restaurants might qualify for liquor licenses.A local prayer meeting was held recently with about 50 people praying for the measure's defeat at the polls.
Also a local newspaper is reporting that a group calling themselves 'Citizens for Economic Development' (mostly made up of local pastors) has formed a corporation to help fight the sale of alcohol in Louisa. The group issued several statements including some ideas on how they plan to pay for needed improvements without alcohol sales or raising city taxes. Many of the statements are erroneous and not based on fact.
For example, Wayne Watts. pastor of the Louisa United Methodist Cherch was quoted as saying the Louisa sewer system is maxed out, it is not. It is at 75%, and the city and county are looking at trying to get it modified instead on a new one which would be $20 million, on the low side. Even grants for one would be matching only, at best, the least we could get by with would be $10 million.
The group did not contact The Lazer apparently meaning they are putting out information the way they want people to see it. TheLEVISALAZER.COM management and staff want all people to be informed on both sides of this issue that is very important to our city and county's future. We regreat that the pastors did not share their information with our viewers.
CFED has also purchased roadside signs and run ad inserts in that same newspaper to further their cause.
In the meantime County Clerk Chris Jobe said the city contains three precincts with a total population of 1,816 voters of which about 1,800 are eligible to vote in the city election.
He said polls will be open from 6am till 6pm as always and the voting will be done at Louisa City Hall (East Louisa) , The old Community Center (West Louisa) which currently houses the Senior Citizens Caner and the new Community Center beside the high school (Meadowbrook).
Jobe said he had trouble getting the usual poll workers to work this election and has added one new one to each precinct, but did not give their names. He said 795 voters in the three precincts cast a vote in the recent General election and just over 800 four years ago.
Meadowbrook is the largest with 715 voters and Louisa West has 619 while Louisa East has 482.
The question as to whether the referendum will pass comes down to voter turnout and with only the wet-dry issue on the ballot that be a deciding factor as far as Louisa city voters coming out to vote is concerned.
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