ROBERT PIERCE

    • Leader & Times

 

At this time, Kansas state statute requires businesses who sell liquor by the drink to show 30 percent of their gross sales from food.

Counties, however, have the option to remove the requirement, and in the last decade, many counties across the state have taken the issue to the ballot primarily for microbreweries, wineries and distilleries.

Monday, Seward County Development Corporation Director Eli Svaty asked county commissioners to put the removal of the requirement to a vote in the upcoming November election.

Svaty said the requirement can only be removed and state statute overridden by a vote from the county’s registered voters, and there are only two options for getting the issue on the ballot.

“One is either through a vote from you as a county commission, or the business owner can work to receive the number of signatures needed on a petition to do that,” he said.

A local business is set to open a brewery this summer, and no matter what happened Monday, Svaty said the business will still have food sales due to the requirement.

“The difference it makes for the business is being able to divide that through the point of sale system so he can have his side of the business with the brewery, and the food service can be on a separate point of sales and have a separate ownership piece on that,” he said.

Many counties in the state have already removed the requirement, while still others have it in place. Only Wallace County in Northwest Kansas has no liquor by the drink businesses, and several Southwest Kansas counties have opted to remove the requirement.

“Republic County took it up in 2021, and it failed,” Svaty said. “Ford County took it up in 2016, and it passed. This passed or failed that 30 percent requirement. Finney County took it up in 2018, and you can see they voted to overturn it as well.”

Commission Chairman Scott Carr made the motion to allow the county’s registered voters to decide the fate of the removal of the 30 percent requirement of food sales and approve Resolution No. 2024-06 authorizing and calling  for an election to submit a proposition to permit the sale of liquor by the drink in public places without the requirement.

The vote was taken by roll call as Counsel Nathan Foreman had advised the commission to do, and commissioners voted 4-1, with Commissioner Presephoni Fuller voting against, to put the measure on the November ballot and approve the resolution.

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