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Hodgenville prepares for alcohol sales

By Doug Ponder

There are a lot of unanswered questions about the sale of alcohol in Hodgenville following the special election held on April 17 when city registered voters decided to allow alcohol to be sold with a 347-337 decision. City officials believe it will be around three to four months before businesses and restaurants in the city sell alcohol.

Hodgenville Mayor Kenny DeVore and Clerk Toni Burton said they are working with the Kentucky Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to discuss the steps they need to take before the first alcohol license can be sold in the city.

The state ABC gives cities that pass a wet/dry vote up to 60 days from the day of the election to pass their city ordinances. The state ABC then has up to 30 days to review the city’s ordinances after they are passed to make sure they meet all of their requirements.

DeVore said the city ordinances would include the price of alcohol licenses, fees and tax amounts, creation of a city ABC administrator and more.

“We have a lot to figure out. Alcohol laws are known for being very confusing and some of them have recently been changed,” DeVore said. “This is a big bite to chew.”

Burton said there will be several special called city council meetings in the upcoming weeks to discuss and approve the alcohol ordinances. The first special called meeting has not been scheduled at this time, but it will likely happen in the first week of May.

Burton said that they have been told by the state ABC that Hodgenville will have two full package store licenses and two full drink licenses. DeVore added that there are around 20 other licenses options as well.

“From what I understand, the package store licenses include everything from beer to spirits. For these licenses the alcohol is purchased and taken home by the customer,” Burton said. “The two drink licenses include everything from beer to spirits for places like restaurants where the alcohol is purchased by the customer and drank by the customer at the site. But there are also other licenses where a store can sell beer only. We are still figuring all of this out.”

The day after the wet/dry vote passed, Burton said she received several calls and voicemails from businesses wanting to purchase a license.

“After hearing that they couldn’t get a license at this time, they asked to be put on a waiting list. There is no waiting list and we aren’t selling licenses,” Burton said. “A lot of ordinances will have to be considered and passed by the council before any licenses are sold. This doesn’t happen overnight.”

DeVore said that money from fees and taxes are undetermined at this time as nothing has been established.

“There are state restrictions for money received from these things (alcohol fees and taxes) and it can’t be used for anything we want to use it for. I do know it can be used for police training on how they handle enforcing the new alcohol laws. I don’t know what the amounts will be for these (fees and taxes) yet, but I hope they are competitive with the surrounding areas that sale alcohol, DeVore said. “The extra revenue will mostly come from any new jobs added, new businesses coming to the area, etc. It won’t come as much from fees or taxes.”

Another issue surrounding the recent passing of the wet/dry vote is the possible annexation of new businesses. So far, DeVore said that no businesses have officially requested to be annexed into the city and the city has not requested any businesses be annexed.

“If we do it there has to be maps drawn up, land surveyed and all of that,” DeVore said. “The city limits are not in any perfect shape as the lines go in and out of a lot of areas. The business wanting to be annexed does not necessarily have to connect to land or a business in the city limits. It all has to be looked at in each situation.”

Alcohol vote

LaRue County Clerk Linda Carter officially confirmed the special election results from Tuesday, April 17.

The YES vote total was 347 compared to the NO vote total of 337, making it 50.73 percent to 49.27 percent. 

Carter said there were 2,156 registered voters who live in the City of Hodgenville. With 684 total votes casted in the wet/dry election, it was a 31.7 percent voter turnout percentage for the special election. Carter’s office did not have the voter percentage of each precinct at the time of publication.