CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER
LLANO — Llano voters will decide whether or not to give local businesses the option to sell mixed beverages as well as potentially pass a street repair proposition that would pay for tax bonds and increase city property taxes by nearly double the current rate.
Early voting is April 24-28 and May 1-2 for city and school elections. Election Day is May 6.
Llano Mayor Pro-tem Gail Lang launched the petition drive that resulted in the liquor-by-the-drink ballot option.
Lang collected 255 signatures, which amounted to two-thirds of Llano residents who voted in the last gubernatorial election.
“I want to be able to open the city for more opportunities. It’s definitely sales-tax revenue,” she said. “If this passes, it also helps tourism.”
Lang said a failed attempt to coax a distillery to the city about a year ago prompted her effort to bring the liquor option before voters.
“If it’s a distillery or craft liquor maker or some sort of franchise business like Chili’s or Applebee’s, then they’ll be able to sell liquor by the drink,” she said.
If the proposition passes, the city council will then vote to approve a liquor-by-the-drink local option ordinance. Businesses would still need to apply for a liquor license with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
Currently in taverns or eating establishments, customers can bring in liquor and purchase a so-called “setup” for on-site mixed beverages.
Local authorities believe the liquor option could assist them from a public safety standpoint.
“I don’t believe it will be a big issue. People who are going to drink and drive are going to do so whether it’s beer or liquor,” Llano Police Chief Kevin Ratliff said. “TABC can regulate the sales of the drink versus someone bringing a bottle in and having it at their table.
“(If the proposition passes) (t)here will be more regulation on the consumption of hard liquor,” Ratliff added.
TABC rules and regulations establish the requirements for bartenders in regard to how they serve customers mixed beverages.
In two more ballot propositions, Llano voters will decide the fate of tax increases that would generate money to upgrade all city streets, repair the city pool, and purchase two playscapes for Moore and Robinson parks.
The current city property tax rate is 41.6 cents per $100 valuation on property.
Proposition 1 would raise the property tax rate by 27.41 cents, generating $4.785 million in tax bonds to pay for street maintenance involving primarily rubberized chip-seal maintenance or hot-mix projects in high-traffic areas.
Proposition 2 would involve tax bonds as well as raising the property tax rate by 3 cents, generating approximately $500,000 for pool repair/upgrades and ADA-requirement mandates along with funding two park playscapes.
If both propositions pass, property taxes on a home valued at $100,000 would increase by approximately $304 per year.
A 2015 capital improvement study determined the needs, Llano City Manager Scott Edmonson said.
“One of the issues that came out of that, and is pretty heavy on our local citizens’ minds, is the conditions of the city streets,” he said.
Pool repairs would extend the life of the facility.
“The pool leaks a little bit, so we need to put a new seal in the bottom of the pool. Some of the tiles on the outside need to be replaced. The chlorinator needs some work on this,” Edmonson said. “The pool is an amenity. It gets quite a bit of use during the summer months by our kids. We could do some minor repairs to get us by, but you can only put (bandages) on things only so often.”