Wet/dry petition filed at clerk's office: alcohol push close to being on ballot

Our Community, Our Dollars has filed its initial petition bearing the signatures of nearly 26,000 individuals who indicate they want voters to decide Nov. 4 on whether retail alcohol sales should be legal in this county.

Saline County Clerk Doug Curtis said 2,888 pages of signatures were turned in to his office at approximately 4:10 p.m. Monday.

In the next 10 days, Curtis' staff will be reviewing the signatures to validate that they are from registered voters.

According to state law, in order to place the issue on the general election ballot, at least 38 percent of registered voters in the county must sign a petition saying they want to bring the issue to a vote. It would take 25,600 valid signatures to meet this percentage.

Spokespersons for Our Community, Our Dollars stated that 25,917 signatures were filed in Saline County.
Curtis noted that employees in his office began verifying the signatures on Tuesday and went through approximately 2,200.

"Being the first day, it took a little while to get started," he said. "We have hired extra part-time help to get this done within the 10 days required by law."

Curtis said he will not release any other numbers until the process is completed.

A similar petition was filed in Craighead County and another is expected to be filed in Faulkner County closer to the Aug. 5 final deadline. Our Community, Our Dollars representatives have said they will continue to collect signatures in all three counties.

Marshall Ney, spokesperson for Our Community, Our Dollars, said, "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. Much has changed over time in these counties and their individual communities, including population growth and economic development.

"We would like to see these counties have the opportunity to keep more tax revenue in their communities," he said. "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 Saline County could have seen $34.2 million in sales with related tax revenues. The overall estimated potential economic benefit to Saline County on an annual basis is $12.5 million.

Key funders of Our Community, Our Dollars include Walmart and Kum & Go. Together, these two companies operate four stores with 780 employees in Saline County.