In Winnsboro, more revenue and no increase in crime
By TERRY MATHEWS and BRUCE ALSOBROOK | News-Telegram Staff
Jan 9, 2008 - In downtown Winnsboro, where a winery operated since 2005, the change has caused no rise in alcohol-related offenses, according to Winnsboro City Administrator Ronny Knight.
�The police chief has not noticed any increase in driving under the influence or public intoxication or anything of that nature as a result of having the winery downtown,� Knight said Tuesday.
If anything, allowing the winery and the sale of alcohol has had a positive effect, Knight said.
�It�s helped the city of Winnsboro,� he told the News-Telegram. �A lot of people who like that type of atmosphere, I�d say they�re usually just good folks, so it�s worked good for us.�
Winnsboro Mayor Carolyn Jones agrees.
�I see absolutely nothing negative as a result of them serving alcohol downtown,� the mayor commented.�
Businessman Robert Watters, owner of R.H. McCrary Hardware, said, “I personally think it’s a bunch of nonsense to drink, but if they’re going to do it, it might as well be here. I can see no reason not to have it.”
The effort to revitalize downtown Winnsboro has been similar to the path Sulphur Spring is taking, and the results in that town so far have been impressive.
According to a report by the city of Sulphur Springs, over the past 10 years, the property values in the downtown area of Sulphur Springs has increased in value about 4.3 percent per year, compared to 5.5 percent for the rest of the town. Meanwhile, Winnsboro experienced an 11.5 percent growth rate in the first five years of a similar development plan.
Meanwhile, revenue from sales tax in Winnsboro has grown leaps and bounds in recent years, rising 60 percent from 2003 to 2007. In the five years before that, sales tax collections - which reflect retail sales — rose only 5.53 percent.
Sales tax rebates saw the biggest jump in Winnsboro from 2005 to 2006, when it grew 27 percent — a time frame that coincides with the opening of the winery.
Sales tax collections in Winnsboro from 2003 to 2007 increased 60 percent. In the five years before that, from 1999 to 2003, sales tax rebates in that city only rose 5.53 percent.