Fewer folks heading for local watering holes

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK | News-Telegram Managing Editor

Aug 12, 2007 - People in Hopkins County just aren't bellying up to the bar the way they used to, judging from taxes collected on mixed beverage sales.

Since 2003, the sales of mixed drinks locally have been falling every year, dropping to $11,936 last year.

It was the lowest total recorded since 1995, when the tax allocation totaled $11,455.

The county is on pace to receive $14,383 in mixed drink taxes this year, well ahead of last year but second lowest in 12 years.

The state comptroller's office collects a 14 percent tax on mixed drinks sold at establishments holding a mixed beverage license. The tax does not apply to beer or wine sales.

That equates to the sale of about $85,256 worth of rum and colas, gin and tonics and whatever other concoctions bartenders can come up with. Back in 2003, the total was closer to $133,185 — or about $9 for every man, woman and child in the county.

It may not be a coincidence that the last big year for mixed beverage receipts, 2003, was the first full year after the opening of Chili's Bar and Grill in Sulphur Springs, which served its first customers in September of 2002.

The mixed beverage tax allocations also began to fall the year after the citizens of Cumby approved the sale of alcohol in its stores. The local option election in October of 2003 passed by an 85-79 vote.

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