Petitions Filed for Wet/Dry Ballot Issue in Craighead, Saline Counties

LITTLE ROCK, AR (News release) - The Our Community, Our Dollars local option ballot question committee filed its initial petitions on Monday in Saline and Craighead counties with signatures from voters confirming their desire to vote on Nov. 4 on whether retail alcohol sales should be legal in their counties.

The petitions were filed with the respective county clerks in those counties for review and validation, said committee spokesman Marshall Ney. Ney said July 7 is the first opportunity to file the petitions, per state law, as it is 120 days from the Nov. 4 election. The final deadline for filing petitions is Aug. 5, 90 days from the Nov. 4 election. The county clerk offices have up to 10 days to review and validate the signatures.

By state law, in order to place this matter on the Nov. 4 ballot, at least 38 percent of registered voters in each county must sign a petition confirming their desire to bring the matter to a vote. In Saline County, 25,917 signatures were filed with the 38 percent threshold representing approximately 25,600 signatures there; and 20,956 submitted in Craighead County with the 38 percent threshold representing approximately 20,000 signatures there, Ney said.

The committee is undertaking a similar effort in Faulkner County, but Ney said it would be closer to the Aug. 5 final deadline before Our Community, Our Dollars files petitions in that county. Our Community, Our Dollars will continue to collect signatures in all three counties.

“Our primary objective with this campaign is to allow the residents of these counties to be formally heard on an issue that hasn't been voted on in decades,” Ney said. “Much has changed over time in these counties and their individual communities, including population growth and increased economic development. We would like to see these counties have the opportunity to keep more tax revenue in their communities. The more tax revenue they ultimately receive, the better equipped they are to fund key services and amenities, such as police, fire, EMS, roads and parks."

A recent economic impact study conducted by the University of Arkansas’ Center for Business and Economic Research estimates that based on potential sales figures from 2013, a wet Craighead County could have seen $24.8 million in retail alcohol sales with related sales tax revenues for the county, a wet Saline County could have seen $34.2 million in sales with related sales tax revenues, and a wet Faulkner County could have seen $28.2 million in sales with related sales tax revenues. The overall potential economic benefit to the three counties going wet on an annual basis could be approximately $10.5 million in Craighead County, $12.5 million in Saline, and $11.3 million in Faulkner, said Kathy Deck, author of the study and director of the Center for Business and Economic Research.

Key funders of the Our Community, Our Dollars committee include Walmart and Kum & Go. Together, these two companies operate 12 stores with 1,100 employees in Craighead County, 4 stores with 780 employees in Saline County, and 6 stores with 1,500 employees in Faulkner County.

Our Community, Our Dollars is led by President Jay Allen and Treasurer Polly Martin, president of the Arkansas Grocers & Retail Merchants.

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