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Sumner council opposes initiatives

The Sumner City Council has unanimously opposed Washington state’s two liquor-related initiatives on the ballot in November.

Sumner receives money from liquor sales and if the revenue from liquor ceases to come to the city, Sumner may need to reduce some law enforcement services, the legal department and the municipal court.

“We do use it predominantly for law enforcement and prosecution,” Sumner City Administrator Diane Supler said.

Supler said Sumner anticipated these initiatives and has taken precautions to lessen the effects on the city in the event of lost revenue.

Some positions in Sumner which were unfilled have remained vacant and if the either or both initiatives pass, Sumner will still receive some liquor revenue for a time, because the changes won’t go into effect immediately.

Initiatives 1100 and 1105 would change the way liquor is bought and sold in the state.

Both initiatives would change the way liquor is bought and sold in Washington.

Initiative 1100 would allow retailers to buy hard liquor, beer and wine directly from the manufacturers instead of through a third party, the state.

Initiative 1105 requires retailers to buy liquor, beer and wine from a third-party distributor.

Opponents of the initiatives fear the privatization of liquor sales in the state will reduce the amount of money Washington receives. Washington cities receive 40 percent of profits from permits, licenses and liquor sales on a per capita basis. Sumner receives $62,000 a year from this profit. Another source of income is the liquor excise tax. The state keeps 65 percent of the excise tax revenue and individual cities receive 28 percent and counties receive 7 percent. Each year Sumner gets $43,000 of liquor tax revenue.

If I-1100 passes, Sumner may have $62,000 less each year. If I-1105 passes, the city would receive $105,000 less each year. In the event both initiatives pass, Washington legislators could resolve conflicts in the language of the initiatives by amending either one or both with a two-thirds majority vote. Should the state Legislature not agree on amending either or both I-1100 and I-1105, the courts would resolve the matter.

Some aspects of the initiatives:

I-1105

People with a spirits distributor license may begin selling liquor on Oct. 1, 2011.

Spirits retailer license holders may commence sales on Nov. 1, 2011.

Washington state is required to cease operations of all state liquor stores by April 1, 2012.

Liquor excise tax in Washington is discontinued and the distribution of liquor profits ends.

Might generate revenue for the state through the sale of state liquor licenses, annual license fees, standard business and occupation taxes, sales tax at the distribution level and the sale of the state’s distribution warehouse and inventory. The liquor board would direct the legislature to tax alcohol at a per liter rate maintaining current state revenues and funds for cities and counties.

I-1100

Any store currently selling beer or wine would be allowed to sell hard liquor.

Proponents say the initiative ends marked up pricing by the state.

Eliminates the distribution of liquor revenue by Dec. 31, 2011.

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