Beer sales contribute to spike in city revenue

While several New Albany vendors and restaurants have only been selling beer and light wine for three months now, early signs in terms of sales tax revenue and in crime-related activities are looking promising.

According to sales tax revenue data for the month of May, the first full month in which beer and light wine could be sold in the city limits, indications show a 10.5 percent increase over the same month in 2009.

July’s sales tax revenue report, which reports the numbers two months behind, showed that the city had collected $218,749 for May of this year, compared to $198,030 for May 2009.

The first five months of 2010, in fact, have all shown increases over last year’s figures

“Our revenue was up quite a bit in May,” New Albany Mayor Tim Kent said.  “Beer definitely contributed to that increase.”

Some local vendors attested to the impact of beer and light wine sales, such as Eagle gas station representative, Ralph Issi and Regal Truck Stop representative, Ali Sharaf. 

“Sales are going perfect, we have a continuous increase in sales,” Issi said. “On Tuesday the trucks come and by Sunday we are sold out of beer. We get unbelievable sales around the first of every month and on holidays.”

Sharaf agreed.

“We have seen a sales increase, month by month,” he said.

Kent also said that the police department has not seen any significant increase in criminal activity related to beer and light wine sales, as some opponents had feared.

“I asked Chief [David] Grisham if there had been any problems and he said there hasn’t been any increases in DUI’s that he can tell,” Kent said.  “In fact, I had someone who was opposed to the issue when it was up for vote tell me recently that he’s seen less beer cans thrown in his yard since the ordinance went into effect.”

Kent was careful, however, to point out that beer is not the only factor in the sales tax revenue increase.

“A lot of it also has to do with the local economy getting better, in light of Toyota,” Kent said.

Other factors that played a part in the revenue increase include the opening of three major national chains in New Albany within the past year – Lowe’s, Walgreens and Hampton Inn.

“Things are definitely looking positive,” Kent said.