Danville did it. Now some Georgetown business people want to expand alcohol sales, too.
The Georgetown Economic Development Committee, a group of business owners, recently distributed a petition that asks registered voters to back an effort to support package alcohol sales.
Rodney Vinegar, chairman of the Economic Development Committee, said the goal is to keep more revenue in the city. Voters approved alcohol sales in larger restaurants in 2000, but package sales are prohibited. If people want to buy a six-pack of beer or a bottle of wine, they typically 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.
Like many other cities, Georgetown has lost revenue 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.
Before package sales could begin, city voters would have to approve the expansion in a local-option election. The committee has asked for a July 31 election, but a different date might be scheduled.
To get the issue on the ballot, 25 percent of the people who voted in the last general election would have to sign a petition, meaning 1,296 signatures are needed.
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 has 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.
Vinegar said he's heard no opposition to expanded sales, but "I'm sure it's there."
The counties surrounding Scott — Bourbon, Harrison, Fayette, Franklin and Woodford — all allow package sales. Owen County on Scott's northern border is "dry" but has a farm winery that sells wine. (Scott County once had two small farm wineries that sold wine, but they closed in 2004 and 2005.)
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.
The construction of a new Kroger off the U.S. 460 Bypass is one factor, but not the only factor, in seeking package sales, Vinegar said.
"I think it's really about having additional revenue into our city," he said. "It's a huge key to our city having long-term viability. The more sources of revenue your city have, the better off your city is."
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 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.
The money generated from alcohol also will be used to replace video cameras in police cruisers and purchase hand-held "preliminary breath tests" used in field stops of those suspected of driving under the influence.
Money generated from alcohol also will buy a battery-powered vehicle that simulates the effects of distracted driving or impairment from alcohol and other drugs on a motorist's driving skills. That vehicle will be used as an education tool in local schools, Bustle said.
"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.
"I'll be flat-out honest with you: I don't drink, and alcohol is not one of my favorite things. I've seen what it can do up close and personal, family-wise. But like I said, alcohol is here, and we have to deal with it like anything else the best way we can."