Whitesburg KY
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Town hires cops with alcohol funds

Helped by new revenue generated by expanded alcohol sales, a central Kentucky city has been able to hire three new law-enforcement officers and expects to put a fourth to work next month.

In 2010, Danville, in Boyle County, became the first city in Kentucky to go from limited restaurant sales to a fully wet community, according to the state ABC department. Voters approved the expansion in March 2010, and expanded sales began three months later.

Since then, the city has hired two police officers and a school resource officer with restricted funds generated from expanded alcohol sales, said Danville Assistant Chief Tom Bustle, who also is the city’s ABC administrator. Another police officer will be hired in the 2012-13 budget that is up for approval by the city commission.

“Alcohol was here before we went wet because you dealt with the bootleggers and people driving back and forth to pick it up,” Bustle said. “So alcohol has been in our community for a long time.”

Meanwhile, a group of business owners in Georgetown have started a drive to get alcohol sales approved there.

The Georgetown Economic Development Committee wants voters to approve package liquor sales in what is now a dry community. The committee of local business owners has recently distributed a petition asking voters to back the idea.

Committee Chairman Rodney Vinegar told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the goal is to keep revenue in the city because now, people wanting a six-pack of beer or bottle of wine go to Fayette County.

“So all the taxes and income that comes from alcohol sales actually go to Lexington without staying in the city of Georgetown,” Vinegar said.

Before package sales could begin, city voters would have to approve the expansion. Organizers need 1,296 signatures, or 25 percent of the people who voted in the last general election, to sign the petition.

Georgetown has lost revenue, like other municipalities, since the 2008 recession. But it has more than 29,000 people and is the third-fastest growing city in Kentucky, according to 2010 Census figures.

“Some of our services — police, fire, ambulance service — have been impacted by that,” Vinegar said.

In about a week, 1,368 petition signatures were gathered and submitted to Scott County Judge- Executive George Lusby, and more signatures are being collected as insurance, Vinegar said.

Georgetown and Scott County are surrounded by counties that allow package liquor sales — with Bourbon, Harrison, Fayette, Franklin and Woodford already having approved the concept.

In a related matter, voters in Somerset will decide later this month if the central Kentucky city keeps the distinction of being the largest city in the state not to have any kind of legal alcohol sales.

A vote on whether to allow both the capacity to serve both alcohol in retail packages and drinks in dining establishments is set for June 26.

Kentucky League of Cities research manager Joseph Coleman told The Commonwealth Journal that Somerset, with a population of 11,196, gained the distinction of being Kentucky’s most populated city without booze sales after Berea approved alcohol by the drink in April.

Berea, with 13,561 citizens, approved at a local option election in April to allow the historic Boone Tavern Hotel & Restaurant. It’s the only establishment in Berea with that capability, qualifying as a “historic site” as per the election’s distinction.

Murray has a vote scheduled for July that would widen the sale of alcohol to effectively drop the requirement that there be a 70 percent-30 percent of food to alcohol sold.

Coleman confirmed that there’s a trend in Kentucky cities pushing to include or diversify alcohol sales, which typically comes about by option elections proposed as a way to increase tax revenue and boost the economy.

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