This week, five Kentucky cities voted to allow or expand alcohol sales. Elizabethtown, Radcliff, Vine Grove, Junction City and Guthrie are among more than 120 Kentucky cities to do so since 1998.
Proponents generally cite improved economic development as a reason to reduce limitations on alcohol sales. Opponents cite moral, religious or safety concerns.
But the wets have been winning. Since 1998, just over 60 local governments rejected expanded sales. Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control general counsel Stephen Humphress says wet votes are the trend, but no elections are foregone conclusions.
“There was a local option election in July 26 in Owen County and they voted to remain dry. There was also an election in Liberty last year, and they voted to remain dry,” he says.
Danville went wet in 2009 and city officials say they’ve seen three restaurants, one entertainment venue and five package liquor stores open since then.
In addition to taxes on sales and property, wet cities can further profit from alcohol sales. Humphress says many cities pass statutes to regulate alcohol on the local level.
“You have the ability to collect licensing fees to collect revenue for the community and also the ability to regulate them. If an individual is required to have a local license to sell alcoholic beverages, you have the authority to require them comply to the alcoholic beverage statues locally,” he says.
The most recent wet-dry votes take effect in 60 days.