Georgetown Debating Allowing Alcohol Sales

Jun 4, 2012

GEORGETOWN, Ky. _  A group of business owners in Georgetown is pushing to pop the cork and let liquor sales flow.

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. State law requires the judge-executive to declare a local-option election no fewer than 60 days and no more than 90 days after a petition is certified, and not within 30 days of a primary or general election.

Lusby asked the county clerk's office to certify that the signatures are those of registered voters in the city - a process that might take a week or more to complete.

Georgetown and Scott County are surrounded by counties that allow package liquor sales - with Bourbon, Harrison, Fayette, Franklin and Woodford all have approved the concept. Owen County on Scott's northern border has a farm winery that sells wine, but no packaged liquor sales. Alcohol also may be sold at three Scott County golf courses - Canwood, Cherry Blossom and Longview - but otherwise Scott County is dry, according to the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

In 2010, Danville 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."