POSTED: Wednesday, May 9, 2012 - 5:38pm
UPDATED: Friday, May 11, 2012 - 9:47am
TYLER — Adding alcohol to the November ballot for Tyler and parts of Smith County is a polarizing topic. But the people behind the petition who support it say it would mean positive gains for the local economy.
Despite the data that shows how money generated from alcohol sales revenue benefits a community, people against it going on the ballot here say it's not the right way to keep the economy afloat.
Bob Westbrook, the owner of the Ci Ci's pizza franchise in Tyler says when Albertsons went out of business, his annual revenue dropped significantly.
Westbrook says the building will continue to be vacant as long as Tyler is "dry".
"I've talked to several of the grocery store chains that have a distribution center anywhere close to East Texas and they won't even look to come here with out the sale of beer and wine, it impacts their overall business that much."
Tom Mullins with the Tyler Economic Development Council says Tyler loses between $2.1 and $2.5 million dollars a year in sales tax revenue.
"Having this availability to be able to sell beer and wine really just kind of brings us up to competition with other communities that have doing this for decades, Tyler's the largest city left certainly in Texas maybe even in the United States that doesn't allow beer and wine sales."
Mullins says local grocery chains lose around a million dollars a week in beer sales alone.
"We only see a plus, an upside because you're capturing your revenue that's currently leaving the area."
But although passing it, could mean more jobs, increased property value, and money kept here, people against it stand firm.
"I know it helps grow the economy, but yet i believe god is going to provide everything we need... so i don't think alcohol is what we look to, to bring in money, i think we should look to god to bring in what we need in this community."
Another big argument against this issue, is that crime would go up.
Mullins says of the cities who've passed this initiative in the last few years, none of them have seen an increase in crime and Jacksonville he says has actually seen their crime rate go down since going wet.
Watch the video for the story.
Jessica Wilson/ KETKnbc.com