By Malcolm Butler
Ruston residents voted Saturday to expand alcohol sales within the city limits.
Not only were Propositions No. 1, 2 and 5 overwhelmingly passed again, but Propositions No. 3 and No. 4 also passed. Proposition No. 3 allows the sale and consumption of alcohol in bars and Proposition No. 4 allows for the sale of alcohol in grocery stores such as Wal-Mart, Super One and Ruston Grocery.
Proposition No. 4 passed with relative ease (59 percent to 41 percent) while Proposition No. 3 narrowly passed (52 percent to 48 percent).
Propositions No. 1, 2 and 5 were already allowed in Ruston.
The Louisiana Economic Growth Committee — working closely with Walmart and Brookshires Grocery Company — successfully obtained the Louisiana state law required 25 percent of signatures from registered voters within the City of Ruston during the fall. The Ruston City Council then set todays voting date during its December meeting.
Due to state law, all five Propositions went to the voters again. This put Propositions No. 1, 2 and 5 at risk for possibly being rescinded, thus putting restaurants at risk of not being able to sell alcohol.
Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker was vocal in his support of Propositions, No. 1, 2, 4 and 5 and was mostly indifferent on Proposition No. 3. When reached by phone Saturday night, Walker was ecstatic with the outcome.
“When I look at this, the greatest thing is it looks like about a 20 percent voter turnout which is incredible for a single selection,” said Walker. “The people of Ruston went out and voted their conviction after listening to everything that was said for both sides. The fact that around 80 percent of voters said yes to No. 1, 2 and 5 was overwhelming.”
Walker said he had serious concerns about the City’s economic future if Proposition 5 had been voted down.
“I would have been up most of the night trying to figure out a $5 million budget cut and now I don’t have to worry about that,” said Walker. “Since we made the announcement about Buc-ee’s, we have been getting a lot of calls from businesses who are interested in our city. With this vote, it means even more to those businesses to see we are a progressive town.”
Walker said the additional revenue from Propositions No. 3 and 4 will only help our area.
“We don’t need to miss out on the fact that it’s not just the City of Ruston that will make some revenue off of this, but the (Lincoln Parish) School Board — teachers 13th and 14th checks — the (Lincoln Parish) Police Jury gets three-quarters of a percent and the (Lincoln Parish) Sheriff’s Office gets one-quarter of a percent.
“It’s extra revenue we now have that we can spend on employees and pay raises and things we need in Ruston,” said Walker. “We are trying to recruit a business that will mean even more than Buc-ee’s from a tax revenue standpoint. If No. 4 had gotten voted down then it would have killed the deal.”
Walker said he isn’t 100 percent sure when the Propositions will be officially enacted.
Below are the five propositions that were all approved tonight along with the final results.
Proposition No. 1 – CURRENTLY ALLOWED (Originally passed in 2002)
Passed tonight by a vote of 81 percent (1,639) to 19 percent (391)
Authority to sell beverages of alcoholic content containing not more than 6% alcohol by volume by package only and not for consumption on the premises in the city.
Proposition No. 2 – CURRENTLY ALLOWED (Originally passed in 2002)
Passed tonight by a vote of 79 percent (1,599) to 21 percent (428)
Authority to sell beverages of alcoholic content containing not more than 6% alcohol by volume for consumption on the premises in the city.
Proposition No. 3 – NOT PREVIOUSLY ALLOWED
Passed tonight by a vote of 52 percent (1,049) to 48 percent (967)
Authority to sell beverage alcohol containing one-half of 1% alcohol by volume and above for consumption on the premises in the city.
Proposition No. 4 – NOT PREVIOUSLY ALLOWED
Passed tonight by a vote of 59 percent (1,185) to 41 percent (833)
Authority to sell beverage containing one half of 1% alcohol by volume and above by package only and not for consumption on the premises in the city.
Proposition No. 5 – CURRENTLY ALLOWED (Originally passed in 2002)
Passed tonight by a vote of 81 percent (1,649) to 19 percent (380)
Authority to sell beverages of high and low alcoholic content permitted only on the premises of restaurant establishments which have been issued an “R” permit as defined by law in the city.