LETTER: Show me the statistics

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By The Staff

Just how much economic impact do the supporters of legalized alcohol sales predict will come to fruition if the vote this fall results in Spencer County becoming wet?

We hear a lot of predictions of new jobs, new revenue and new restaurants, but there have been no hard statistics.

The most likely scenario however will be that what profit there is to be made from alcohol will be reserved for those few who are able to secure a liquor license. The tax revenue will likely be limited to the licensing fees, which in the first year, will fall far short of the $20,000 to $25,000 cost of holding this special election, and most likely will not cover the added expense of extra police patrols, jail costs or court costs that arise from even a modest increase in alcohol-related crime.

Some may suggest that the county could impose a liquor tax, but these same people who are supporting the sale of alcohol would likely be the first to oppose such a tax, because any measure that makes a can a beer more expensive in Spencer County than in nearby locations would just drive the consumer to those out-of-county establishments that already exist, which because of their close proximity, would not pose any real hardship on the consumer.

The City of Shelbyville in 2007 actually implemented a 5 percent tax on alcohol, a move supported by the city council because statistics showed that 46 percent of arrests in that town were alcohol-related. However, the liquor businesses were able to raise such a stink, that the council repealed the tax less than a year later.

So without any specific local taxes, the amount of money that will be coming into the local  government is minimal, and again, will not likely come close to covering the extra police, judicial and jail costs associated with the increased flow of alcohol.

Proponents of alcohol also like to paint a rosey picture of new restaurants and jobs.

I invite the people of Spencer County to drive to nearby Henry County and see what kind of nice establishments line the downtown streets of Eminence and New Castle . Once you do that, ask yourself if the little bars that might quickly fill up the unoccupied buildings in downtown Taylorsville would truly enhance our community.

The truth is, Spencer County is not getting an Applebees, a Red Lobster or a Ruby Tuesday until the population is adequate to sustain it. We’re far from that point and those offering this deceitful carrot to the voters know it. Shepherdsville, which is located on busy I-65 doesn’t even have these kind of establishments, nor does Mt. Washington which boasts a population over five times that of Taylorsville .

As for jobs, I wonder if the new jobs created will be equal in number to the jobs eliminated for minors who will not be allowed to ring up alcohol purchases or serve in restaurants offering liquor.

Speaking of jobs, I ran the numbers the other day and found something very interesting about Spencer County’s unemployment rate for June of 2009, which were the latest figures I had available.

Kentucky ’s unemployment rate for that month was 11.1 percent. In Spencer County, the rate was 10.1 percent.

Among counties that allow alcohol sales of any kind, be it wet, moist or limited, the average unemployment rate was 11.75. And when you look counties of similar populations to Spencer County (population 17,000) you’ll notice that Kentucky counties with populations between 12,000 and 22,000 and that are wet, moist or limited, have an average unemployment rate of 13.06 percent. Simply put, Spencer County is not suffering because of a lack of alcohol sales, but rather, we’re in much better shape than the overwhelming majority of counties where alcohol is legally sold.

Please take a moment and look at a map of counties that allow alcohol sales. You’ll quickly notice that Spencer County is indeed an island. We’re unique and we offer a small town atmosphere and way of life that others have been quick to abandon.

Those pushing for alcohol sales say our outdated mindset will be the ruin of Spencer County . But how then do they explain that for several years running, Spencer County was the fastest growing county in the state of Kentucky ? If we are so backwards, behind the times and regressive, why in the world would so many families look to Spencer County as the place they want to raise their families?

Contrary to what many on the wet side are suggesting, the strongest arguments against legalized alcohol sales aren’t moral or religious. They’re common sense arguments that suggest that a good number of people are indeed attracted to Spencer County just like it is, and there are hard numbers and statistics to back that up.

An island is not a bad place to be. Most often, it’s a desirable place to be, a refuge from danger and a safe haven from the deep. Spencer County ’s status as a dry county isn’t a deterrent to growth, but rather it’s a distinction that we can be proud of.

Voters, don’t blinded by empty promises. Don’t become so intoxicated by the feel-good propaganda of those setting out to make a quick buck, that you carelessly throw away something that makes Spencer County stand out.

Vote No this fall. Keep Spencer County an island. Keep Spencer County unique. Keep Spencer County Dry .


John Shindlebower

Mt. Eden , KY