McKinney residents sign the petition on Nov. 18 in favor of calling an election to bring fine wine and package stores to McKinney. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)
The group needs petition signatures of registered voters in McKinney who support changing the law to allow the expansion of current alcohol sales to include fine wine and package stores, such as Spec’s and Total Wine.
Nearly 22,000 signatures are needed by Jan. 14 to require the McKinney City Council to call an election in May. The petition will allow a vote for the legal sale of all alcoholic beverages for off-premise consumption within the city of McKinney, officials stated.
A 2008 study by Texas economist Ray Perryman stated McKinney could see significant increases in sales, jobs and local tax revenues if these types of alcohol sales were allowed in the city.
“We as a business community and as citizens of McKinney recognize that we are losing a lot of sales tax dollars and a lot of spending and jobs that are going across our city borders to other neighboring communities who are able to have packaged liquor stores like a Total Wine or Spec’s, or Goody Goody,” said Lisa Hermes, McKinney Chamber of Commerce President and CEO.
The Perryman study stated that with these changes, the city could gain nearly $60 million in annual spending, more than 600 jobs and a potential $1.34 million in sales tax revenue. Hermes pointed out that these numbers are “conservative” estimates.
She described McKinney as a “damp community.” In 2004, McKinney voters favored allowing beer and wine sales in grocery and convenience stores, and they also approved mixed beverage sales in restaurants. This led to the city’s sales tax growing nearly 28% in part because people were allowed to shop locally in McKinney, Hermes said in a news release. Allowing package stores in the city would generate even more revenue for the city, she said.
”Cities are funded through sales tax revenue and also property tax revenue, among some other things. But those are the two big drivers of income,” Hermes said. “The more that we can bring in sales tax dollars and keep that in our coffers, the less we have to rely on property tax.”
This is the best time to have an election like this, according to Julie Williams, McKinney Chamber of Commerce board chair and a local Realtor. A state statute dictates that the group needs 35% of the people who voted in the last gubernatorial election to sign the petition to trigger an election. As McKinney’s population grows, and with a gubernatorial election approaching next November, the city needs to move this petition forward in order to get the required number of signatures, she said.
“Not only are we going to be bringing additional business to McKinney, but then there’s all that residual spending that people do when they go to Plano or to Anna, or to Allen,” Williams said. “It’s really important, and the time is now.”
In order to make the petition available to the public, former McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller will chair the citizens’ group working on the petition, Hermes said. The group has also hired Austin-based Texas Petition Strategies to conduct the petition drive.
“We’ll have people that will be going out into the community, looking at where voters live, knocking on doors and hopefully getting them to sign,” Hermes said. “We’re reaching out to homeowners’ groups; we’re going to be reaching out at retail locations where there’s a lot of high traffic … so it’ll be a very coordinated effort with a lot of intention behind where we’re going to get those signatures.”
Petitions will be available at the chamber of commerce office, but if for some reason people are unable to come to the office to sign, they can call the office instead, and Hermes said somebody would be able to get the petition to them.
Patrick Cloutier, who was recently on the McKinney Economic Development Corp. board before stepping down to run for McKinney City Council, pointed out that package liquor stores are already in surrounding cities such as Anna, Plano, The Colony and Allen.
“I recognize the concern perhaps among some that [say], ‘I don’t want liquor stores around me,’ but they already are,” he said. “McKinney has a lot of growth. We have a lot of need for revenue that we can get without increasing the tax rate on our taxpayers. And this is very low-hanging fruit for us.”