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On the ballot: Call for alcohol option election meets adversity, but passes

The federal appeals court's order sets up a likely last-minute legal battle over absentee voting in Texas.
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It didn’t take much longer than five minutes for the Delta County Commissioners Court to finalize the ordering of the election for “the legal sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption only.” However it was met with some adversity as it was accepted with a 3-1 vote with Commissioners Rip Templeton, Gary Anderson and Loyd Vandygriff in favor and Mark Brantley of Precinct 4 against putting the item on the ballot.

The election will be held on May 9, 2015 with early voting beginning on April 27 – May 5, 2015.

This petition with 626 signatures for beer and wine sales along with work to bring the election to Delta County started over a year ago. This is the second effort made to get the option for the election before the Commissioners. This expense for this election will be that of the County.

“Overall it helped with the economic boom especially downtown. This has really helped the restaurants with the ability to serve,” said Sulphur Springs City Manager Marc Maxwell on Monday morning in regards to how the option has changed economic development. “We have not experienced any of the pitfalls the opposition said there would be.” He also noted they did experience an increase in sales tax following the passing of their two propositions on 2012 – for “the legal sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption only” and “the legal sale of mixed beverages in restaurants by food and beverage certificate holders only.”

During the effort to decipher the pros and cons prior to the 2012 alcohol option election Sulphur Springs News-Telegram shared input from top city administrators in Paris, Greenville and Mineola.

The article stated Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith conducted a survey of 25 communities asking the same questions regarding sales tax revenues, alcohol-related police issues and litter. Sheriff Smith said none of the cities polled saw an increase in crime or litter in their communities. Rockwall and Midlothian reported a decline in crime related to the sale of alcoholic beverages, Smith said.

“In Fairview the election did pass and it did have a positive effect on [city] because one of our priorities was economic development,” said Paris City Manager John Godwin. “It helped us in recruiting restaurants. A lot of sit-down, high-quality restaurants customers want to have that margarita with their Mexican food or the beer and the wine. It really makes a difference in their profit margin, and it makes a difference whether they come to your city or not.”

Greenville Assistant Police Chief Scott Smith agreed there has been very little change. Mineola City Administrator David Stevenson called the impact on sales tax revenues “good” for the community of 4,500, with another 7,500 residents living within that city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction area that extends about three miles from the city limits. The article continues to state for Mineola the overall impact on his city could only be described as positive.

“I am for it for one main reason for tax revenue,” added Delta County Judge Jason Murray, putting it before the voters to do what is best for Delta County. “This is the best way I see to generate more tax dollars.”

Maybe if this does pass, it is just a stepping stone in the realm of economic development for Delta County to follow in the footsteps of other surrounding counties.

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