After failed 1992 try, Lakeport business owners again seek legal alcohol sales

LAKEPORT/GREGG COUNTY (KYTX) - Business owners in the town of Lakeport say allowing alcohol sales benefits them and the city.

Twenty years ago, people who live in the Gregg County town said no to that proposal.

But opposition might have dried up.

For every $400 a Longview resident pays in city property taxes, a Lakeport resident one mile away pays $500.

"It's getting higher and higher and higher," said 13-year Lakeport resident Douglas Brown. He doesn't drink but supports allowing alcohol sales. "If it's gonna bring more money to the neighborhood, I'm all for it."

Voters in Lakeport will go to the polls November 6 and decide whether to allow beer and wine sales in stores and mixed drink sales in restaurants.

Business owners got the 86 signatures needed to call the election.

Stephen Skinner owns the town's only grocery store. He says tourists to nearby Lake Cherokee want to buy food and drinks in one place.

"They'll come in, buy the groceries, do all their shopping and they'll get to looking around and want to know where our beer and wine is," Skinner said.

Potholes can be found all over Lakeport. The city says it needs extra revenue to fix the potholes. But some residents ask, is that worth bringing alcohol sales into this community.

Twenty years ago, voters rejected alcohol sales.

Those with the city said Lakeport could use the extra taxes, but they're taking no sides on the effort.

"We did not have an opinion," City Secretary Darlene Shelton said. "We were just following the law."

Across the river from Lakeport, liquor stores and nightclubs line the highway. So why not move?

"It's our community," said Mason White, owner of T.Blanco's Tex-Mex restaurant on Gardiner Mitchell Parkway. His restaurant eats its customers' $3 private club membership fees but would rather not to deal with the private club red tape. "(Lakeport is) the place that we love. It's not an option for us to pick up our business and move a quarter mile down the road."

As far as Douglas is concerned, why not bring the sales to Lakeport and lessen his own tax burden?

"Alcohol is right down the street, so if they want it, they want it," Brown said. "If we have it, that's just less traffic to have to go out for it."

We took a look at sales taxes in local cities that recently approved alcohol sales. Those results can be viewed here.


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