However, Somerset went straight from no alcohol to beer in groceries and liquor retailers as well as restaurant drink sales — and Burnside is feeling the pressure to compete.
“I’m charged with paying the bills that come into this town,” said Jones. “Our property tax has stayed where they were forever. Compared to other towns, we really don’t have much in the way of property tax.
“I was at a meeting a week ago, and Mayor (Eddie) Girdler (of Somerset) was talking to the Chamber (of Commerce) about the alcohol revenue that was coming into Somerset — something in the neighborhood of $700,000 a year,” he continued. “... If we could pick up 10 percent (of that number), what a booster that would be to our economy! I think we would exceed that.”
Jones noted that the cost of chemicals for wastewater treatment go up annually, as do other key city expenses, and having more money in the city coffers from alcohol fees could help give the city more financial options without raising taxes.
“The money has got to come from somewhere,” he said, “so we either cough it up out of our pocket, or we do something that generates some revenue for the city, and this will generate some revenue.”
Councilor Bill Leslie asked if the city had looked into the option of holding a special election to institute a local sales tax for a limited time to help fund a particular project (such as the city’s ailing water plant renovation), but Jones noted that such a move would be independent from the alcohol vote.
Councilor Joyce Gregory suggested fixing up buildings to help entice businesses to locate in Burnside, and Jones noted that with more money in the general fund, it would give the city funds to do necessary “clean-up” work.