Michael Langley, the Director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division for the State of Arkansas, came to Arkadelphia Town Hall today for a short presentation and a long question-and-answer session with a packed house of local residents. The high points included:
- the number of liquor stores in Clark County (5 or 6, depending on the 2010 census that will be released in late December)
- the application process for liquor stores (at least 4–5 months, and the selection process for the 5–6 stores is a public, random drawing)
- the number of beer and wine only outlets in the county (unlimited)
- the different types of applications available for wet counties (35)
- the amount of taxes the city can pass on alcohol sales (5%, all of which comes back to the city)
- limitations on hours of operation (controlled by state law, but can be further limited by local ordinance)
- signage limitations (locally regulated)
Director Langley informed the group that the ABC’s primary job is to raise revenue for the State of Arkansas through regulation, and his division wants businesses to be successful. He gave tons of practical advice on how businesses could satisfy the ABC’s concerns. He also encouraged outlets selling alcohol to be good neighbors by policing their own operations, working with local law enforcement, and giving back to the community.
One of the most interesting things Director Langley had to say was that the ABC and other economic development groups are trying to change the law with respect to “liquor by the drink” local option elections. These groups believe the current law is prohibitive to economic development. As the law currently stands, a separate election would have to be held in Clark County as early as next summer in order for restaurants to sell mixed drinks (like margaritas) in restaurants. The new legislation, which could be considered by the Legislature in January, would repeal this requirement and would make it less expensive for restaurants to obtain liquor.
Thanks to Director Langley for making the trip down to Clark County, and to Arkadelphia Town Hall for hosting the meeting!