The city’s options in petitioning for expanded alcohol sales changed dramatically in March when Gov. Steve Beshear signed Senate Bill 82, reclassifying Junction City from fifth to fourth class, along with Guthrie in Todd County, Greensburg in Green County and Midway in Woodford County.
After years of stalled attempts in the state legislature, the measure passed both chambers based largely on Census Bureau projections that estimated Junction City's population would be more than 3,000, the threshold that has been used to classify a fourth class city. The 2010 Census counted 2,241 living in Junction City, the most of any city included in the senate bill.
Kentucky Alcoholic Beverage Control spokesman Nathan Jones said as a fifth class city the only type of referendum that could have been called was for restaurants that maintain 70 percent food sales and 100 or 50 seats at tables.
The last major effort in 2008 focusing on the restaurant option was unsuccessful. A petition filed and certified for full alcohol sales in 2006 was denied because Junction City was a fifth class city in a county that had previously voted to prohibit alcohol sales.
Jones said Junction City’s fourth class status means the city can have its own election to become fully wet. However, there would have to be an additional election in order to make liquor by the drink, or bar licenses, available.
If the petition is successful, Bottom said the timing of the special election could be interesting in light of the election coming up in November.
The issue must be decided through a special election and cannot be on the ballot for the general election. The special election must be no earlier than 60 and no later than 90 days after the petition is certified.
Bottom said voting machines must also be under lock and key for 30 days before the general election is held. She said she would be working with state election officials on any timing issues, but believes it can be done if the petition is turned in this month or early next month.
"It would be pretty tight to get it done," Bottom said.