SULPHUR SPRINGS - City officials have verified the roughly 1,300 signatures submitted asking for two alcohol related items to be placed on the November ballot.
Sulphur Springs City Secretary Gale Roberts tells the Sulphur Springs News-Telegram that 1,176 signatures were needed.
“That will mean that [the city council] will call for two elections on the Aug. 7 agenda, but the elections won't be held until November in the general election.”
Registered voters will be asked this fall if they’re for or against the sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption only and the sale of mixed beverages in restaurants by food and beverage certificate holders only, making Sulphur Springs the latest Northeast Texas city to call for a wet/dry election.
Over the last several years, nearly a dozen local municipalities have conducted similar elections, most passing. Some cities tried a couple of times before they received approval.
Wolfe City and Quinlan were the latest entities to come aboard as wet cities, earning enough votes in November 2011. That came two years after voters there rejected measures to allow alcohol sales within city limits. Citizens in Emory, Fate, Farmersville and Paris have also won approval of similar ballot items within the last few years, while the cities of Reno and Canton have been unsuccessful.
November 2009 experienced a slew of wet/dry elections locally.
Billy Horton, owner of Austin-based Hard County, Inc. – which offers strategy and planning for petition drives – told KETR the reason for the increase is a lax in the law requiring 50 percent of voters to appear on a petition for the item to go to a vote.
“It was then decreased to 35 percent, but even 35 percent was very difficult,” Horton said. “In 2003 the legislature made a change in that law and changed it to a requirement that basically states that you have to gather enough signatures on a petition that would be equivalent to 35 percent of the total that voted in the last gubernatorial election.”
Horton adds many cities cite the ability to sell alcoholic beverages or wine, particularly at restaurants, helps increase sales tax revenue and brings in new business.
According to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, among the cities locally that remain dry are Bonham, Como, Cooper, Honey Grove, and Lone Oak.