8 Investigates: Sharp Co. Alcohol Sales - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

8 Investigates: Sharp Co. Alcohol Sales

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SHARP COUNTY, AR (KAIT) – This month marks one year since voters made the historic decision to allow the sale of alcohol in Sharp County.

Supporters hoped turning the county ‘wet' would uncork a large new source of revenue, and luckily it has.

According to the Sharp County treasurer's office, sales tax revenue from January to October this year has reached $1,468,186.28. During the same 10-month period in 2012, the county collected $1,405,888.83 in revenue. That's an increase of $62,297.45 year-to-year.

Sharp County Judge Larry Brown says he's unsure if the county can attribute that increase solely to alcohol sales.

"One month we've had about $8,000 increase in sales tax revenue," Brown said. "Another month it was four to five hundred dollars, so it's been all over the map. It's been hard to tell what's going on."

According to the treasurer's office, the biggest spike in revenue came during the summer months – the peak tourism season in Sharp County. In July 2013 the county's one-cent sales tax generated $157,235.05. During July last year, the revenue totaled $141,165.57.

The treasurer's office reported that in August 2012, the county got a check for $150,716.27, while the revenue jumped to $162,944.68 in August 2013.

Brown says once the county collects this extra revenue, it's dispersed mostly to the county general fund. The money, however, does not go as far as some might think, he says, but it's definitely helped.

"We had some money budgeted from the state land commission every year that we didn't get this year so that helped offset some of that difference," he said.

Driving up the sales tax revenue numbers are stores, like the Red Mule Food Mart in Highland.

Manager Kathy McComas says since the store got its beer license in February, alcohol sales have started off strong and have gotten even better since then.

"A lot of tourists really didn't realize that we had gone wet," McComas said. "They'd walk through the door – oh, you're selling alcohol now, so they were really surprised."

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