Since Danville went “wet” in June 2010, city officials have collected about $850,000 in alcohol taxes and spent about $760,000 on alcohol education, code enforcement as well as police officers and equipment.
The additional $90,000 along with an estimated $475,000 of tax revenues will help defray an estimated $610,000 in alcohol-related costs in 2012-13, said city financial consultant Michele Gosser.
Gosser said though the city plans to spend a little more than usual in 2012-13, the costs should even out in future years so the city is not in the red when it comes to alcohol enforcement.
“We’re still babies in this process,” Gosser said.
In fiscal year 2010-11, Danville spent $232,623.93 on salaries, benefits, payroll costs and overtime related to two police officer positions and two code enforcement officials, according to a report prepared by Gosser. The two police officer positions were previously “frozen” and were only hired because of alcohol money.
The next year, Danville added a school resource officer because of alcohol tax receipts. The city spent $274,542.24 on salaries, benefits, payroll costs and overtime for the police officers as well as code enforcement officials.
In fiscal year 2012-13, Danville expects to add a new police officer position due to alcohol funds. If city commissioners approve the budget, the city would spend $352,808.39 on salaries.
The extra code enforcement officials and police officers do not deal only with alcohol-related issues, said Assistant Police Chief Tom Bustle, who also serves as the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control director. However, they spend a significant amount of time ensuring that the 39 establishments licensed to sell alcohol comply with all local and state regulations.
Bustle also spends some of his time discussing Danville’s “going wet” process with officials in other communities such as Corbin and London that are considering changing their prohibition laws.
Some people in Danville still criticize the voters’ choice to allow packaged alcohol sales, but alcohol was already part of city life before the laws changed, according to Bustle.
“Alcohol was here anyway,” Bustle said. “We’ve always had it. Now it’s here legally.”
Before alcohol sales were legalized, police had a much harder time cracking down on establishments that illegally sold alcohol especially to underage drinkers because they had to prove probable cause to get a search warrant. Once an establishment signs up for a local and state liquor license, officials can inspect the premises any time without a search warrant.
Alcohol and drug abuse education were always important priorities for the city, but with alcohol taxes officials plan to devote more resources to educating children and adults about the dangers of drunken driving as well as promote awareness regarding alcoholism.
In 2012-13, authorities hope to spend $27,000 on a SIDNE simulator. The machine shows people exactly what it is like to drive a car while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Police officers would demonstrate it at public events such as fairs and concerts in hopes that SIDNE will help decrease drunken driving.
Police Chief Tony Gray also hopes Danville City Commission will approve $63,570 to ensure every police cruiser in the city has video recording capabilities. Not only would videos help secure drunken driving convictions, it would also protect police officers in the event of someone committing an act of violence against them or being dishonest about the circumstances of a traffic stop.
The video camera and SIDNE simulator costs are unlikely to be repeated in future years, so the costs of alcohol enforcement should be less than the receipts of future years, according to Gosser. Also, city officials expect annual alcohol tax revenues to increase. As of May 2012, three applicants were awaiting licensing approval and several other businesses had inquired about the process required to legally sell alcohol.
Other potential uses of alcohol tax receipts in 2012-13:
- Alcohol Awareness, which includes signs and other educational equipment similar to a SIDNE simulator: $25,000.
- Software related to the new cameras and alcohol-related education: $3,585.
Additional expenditures related to alcohol enforcement and education for fiscal year 2011-12:
- Alcohol Awareness, which includes signs and other educational equipment similar to a SIDNE simulator: $16,000.
- Other Police Support, which includes the cost of supplies, fuel, insurance and maintenance: $61,688.07.
- Other Administrative Expenses, which includes the cost of handling letters for collection, returned checks, licensing, entering information into databases and support from finance, legislative and information technology departments: $41,728.02.
Additional expenditures related to alcohol enforcement and education for fiscal year 2010-11:
- Other Police Support, which includes the cost of supplies, fuel, insurance and maintenance: $64,940.07.
- Other Administrative Expenses, which includes the cost of handling letters for collection, returned checks, licensing, entering information into databases and support from finance, legislative and information technology departments: $65,827.61.