An effort to bring liquor sales to Erath County is underway. Here’s what you need to know.

Updated: Apr 8


By SARA VANDEN BERGE


Several local business leaders are working to get a measure on the November ballot to make liquor sales available in Erath County.


The effort will require about 4,400 signatures on a petition backing the measure, local attorney Brady Pendleton told Beneath the Surface News.

John Hatch, a consultant with Texas Petition Strategies of Austin, has been hired to lead the petition drive and campaign.


The measure would end the need for private club permits, which many believe is outdated.


“According to the Texas Restaurant Association, it can cost between $3,000 to $20,000 a year to be a private club,” Pendleton said. “These bureaucratic and red tape fees don’t create one new job or generate any tax revenue for the city. It just increases the cost of business that restaurants like Chili’s has to pay.”

Court Cole, owner of Bull Nettle, is also backing the effort.


“We have already done some private fundraising and everyone is excited to help out,” Cole said. “It’s not the 1980s anymore. It’s time to get this approved.”


If the measure is passed, Erath County would see a significant increase in sales, jobs and local tax revenue.


“Based on our population, studies show we could be gaining as much as $10 million a year in additional sales, nearly 100 new jobs and generate another $200,000 in local sales tax revenue,” Pendleton said. “Changing this law could be a great benefit to our community.”

The US Census Bureau places Erath County’s population at 42,698. Based on the calculations of a 25,000-population entity, the county taxing entities currently receives as much as $22.4 million in annual sales and over $522,000 in local tax revenues because of being “partially wet.”


However, the county’s dry status for spirits (package liquor sales) and removing the private club rules for on-premise establishments, the local tax revenues could increase an additional $10 million in annual spending, nearly 100 more jobs and another $210,000 in local sales tax revenues, a near 40% increase in alcohol-related tax revenue.


“People always say they want more restaurants to open and I think (the private club permit) keeps franchises away,” Cole added.

Legalizing the sale of alcoholic and mixed beverages does not mean that liquor stores will pop up on every corner because the city council has to approve zoning.


If enough signatures for the petition are gathered by the June 4 deadline, Erath County commissioners will be required to order the election for Nov. 2.


Only registered voters can sign the petition and the signature must match the one on their voter registration card.