“It’s been negligible to this point and we are actually projecting less revenue from occupational license fees in the coming year’s budget overall, but we obviously appreciate what revenue it does bring in and it is good for us,” Stansbury said.
Those who look at the issue from an economic development standpoint, many of whom supported going wet, immediately point to the businesses popping up around the town center.
Charlie Cox, spokesman for the Danville-Boyle County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, said legalizing alcohol sales has helped lure regular consumers to downtown and prospective businesses to the county.
Since the election, Cox said the three new bar/restaurants along with a boutique liquor store and microbrewery have resulted in 52 jobs created and about $675,000 of investment in downtown alone. He said the several festivals and other events, such as the Eat Drink Danville St. Patrick’s Day event held Thursday evening, have generated $5,600 so far.
“Something that’s really not tangible is the fact that people are excited to be in Danville and as someone who grew up here, it’s exciting that it’s a place people want to be now,” Cox said.
Others who worked to keep the city dry stand by their contention that the trade-off of having expanded entertainment options is far from fair.
Pastor Kevin Hampton with Gethsemane Baptist Church was one of the leaders of the “no” side in the election. He said the brief presence of alcohol sales and the many reminders of it has been troubling.
“It’s odd to see those beer trucks all over town now and it’s discouraging for those who fought against alcohol sales,” Hampton said. “There are never any winners where alcohol is involved.”
Statistics from the Danville Police Department show that DUI arrests actually went down from 200 in 2009 to 133 in 2010. A category of crimes that includes alcohol intoxication, open container and unlawful transaction with a minor dropped from 131 in 2009 to 75 last year. Crashes involving alcohol remained level.
Danville Police Chief Jay Newell said using those numbers to gauge criminal behavior involving alcohol would be problematic over the last few years.
“A big part of that drop is staffing because we were even more shorthanded last year than we were in 2009,” Newell said. “The biggest concern we had as a police department with alcohol sales in Danville was that you would have people leaving places that serve alcohol and causing problems. Luckily we haven’t seen a spike in those numbers and they have actually held flat.”
Newell said police have increased the focused patrol the department does now at locations that sell alcohol, as have calls to the businesses. However, he would like to do more in the future, including a two-officer detail that spends a majority of their time making their presence felt at those businesses.
Merchants have been critical of the regulatory fee on all alcoholic beverages sold in the city, which is allowed by state law to cover alcohol related costs, saying it puts them at a competitive disadvantage to surrounding counties. However, Stansbury said policing is just one of many layers of administrative work the city has undertaken since the vote.
In addition to the city Alcoholic Beverage Control office, which has a budget of $88,600 this year, the estimated cost for additional law enforcement activity is about $100,000. In all there are at least eight departments that have some part in working with alcohol, such as record keeping in finance and inspections done by the fire marshal.
The city has budgeted that administrative costs related to alcohol will total $316,382. The fee has brought in $168,120 so far this year and Stansbury said the total for the year is expected to be between $260,000 and $300,000.