Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

March 10, 2014

Olive Hill local option election Tuesday

Voters to decide alcohol issue

Joe Lewis

OLIVE HILL — Voters in this Carter County city will decide whether or not legalized alcohol sales will be part of Olive Hill’s future when they go to the polls Tuesday.

If sales are legalized, the city would then have 60 days to hire an alcoholic beverage control administrator and draft and pass an ordinance regulating sales within the city.

Selling alcohol in Olive Hill would require a license approved by the local ABC administrator and the state’s regulatory body.

The types of licenses available to businesses within Olive Hill would be identical to those in Grayson.

Businesses would be able to apply for “quota” licenses, which would allow for packaged liquor sales.

The number of quota licenses available would be at the sole discretion of state regulators.

Restaurants would also be permitted to apply for licenses that allow alcohol sales by the drink. An establishment must meet certain criteria to be eligible for such a license.

KRS 242.185 states: “A city or county in which prohibition is in effect may, by petition in accordance with KRS 242.020, hold a local option election on the sale of alcoholic beverages by the drink at restaurants and dining facilities that seat a minimum of 100 persons and derive a minimum of 70 percent of their gross receipts from the sale of food.”

This means that even if voters approve the sale of alcohol in the city, stand-alone bars that only serve alcohol by the drink would not be permitted.

Businesses would also be able to apply for nonquota malt beverage licenses that would allow for the sale of beer in packaged containers.

Supporters of legalized alcohol sales in Olive Hill point to the potential for increased revenue and business within the city as prime reasons to vote for the measure.

For comparison, Grayson began collecting the first revenues from alcohol sales in January. Based on those numbers, city officials have been able to make an estimated guess of what a normal year’s worth of revenue might look like.

“We project that we would take in annual revenue of about $100,000 from alcohol sales for a full fiscal year,” said Grayson Mayor George Steele.

The city charges a 6 percent fee on packaged sales and 4 percent on alcohol by the drink.

Revenues collected from alcohol sales would have to be used for operations directly related to regulating the industry or for increased city services required as a result of legalization.

For example, new revenues could be spent for additional police and fire protection or to pay the ABC administrator’s salary.

Groups opposed to legalized sales, primarily faith-based, make the case alcohol consumption would dramatically increase because of easy access.

“There are those trying to convince us that for Olive Hill to succeed it must have legalized alcohol sales, which could cause the undesirable result of on-the-street consumption and barrooms up and down the streets,” wrote former Mayor Jim Short in a Feb. 26 letter to the editor of the Journal-Times.

The local option election will be at the Olive Hill Senior Community Center on Railroad Street. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.