8 Investigates: Sharp Co. Alcohol Sales

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

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

According to the Sharp County treasurer's office, sales taxrevenue from January to October this year has reached $1,468,186.28. During thesame 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 thecounty can attribute that increase solely to alcohol sales.

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

According to the treasurer's office, the biggest spike inrevenue 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 Julylast year, the revenue totaled $141,165.57.

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

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

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

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

Manager Kathy McComas says since the store got its beerlicense in February, alcohol sales have started off strong and have gotten evenbetter since then.

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

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