Consider the ‘unintended consequences’ of wet/dry vote

From the Publisher Jay Nolan
From the Publisher
Jay Nolan

Sometimes we do something with absolutely the very best of intentions. Then we realize our actions had “unintended consequences.”

For example, Union College and KCEOC are probably two of the most community-minded organizations in our entire area. Both are focused intensely on serving the citizens of Barbourville, and do so in many different, wonderful ways. To help improve our town, both have even bought and fixed up several different old properties in Barbourville.

On the flip side, since 2010, the properties they purchased have removed $3,064,400 in assessed property value from Barbourville tax roles, according to Knox County PVA records. By doing this good thing, Union College and KCEOC combined have also collectively cost Barbourville tens of thousands of tax dollars annually, since both organizations are exempted from paying property taxes.

Likewise, there are many good people in Barbourville. Some are on different sides of the upcoming wet/dry vote. I encourage people from both sides to look again, hard at your position. Are there any “unintended consequences” you may have overlooked?

“Wet” supporters in the community see alcohol sales as a good way to help shore up our city finances. City budgets are tight, expenses growing, and lots of us property owners, tax-exempt or not, still require fire, police and other city services. They note the city of Corbin took in over $750,000 in taxes after going wet. They don’t want to see services cut as the cost of things keeps going up. But remember, tax from alcohol sales by law cannot be put in the city’s general fund.

So, are there more negative “unintended consequences” of getting tax revenue from alcohol sales? According to those who want to keep Knox dry, the answer absolutely is “YES!”

“Dry” supporters raise serious issues like increased alcoholism rates, the irreparable damage alcoholism causes to families. Will it bring higher crime rates? These costs too are “unintended consequences,” which they suggest “wet” voters aren’t thinking about.

Other dry supporters, especially some who have been quite vocal, object based on strongly held personal religious convictions. Certainly, that is their right. But I also ask them, “Is this truly is a matter of principle and not about money?” If so, would you be willing to put church property back on tax roles to help fund a “dry” Barbourville?

What other “unintended consequences” should we consider? I think we should take this vote very seriously, because it will impact our community for a long time.

What do you think?