In a sweeping vote Tuesday, Bartow County residents and citizens in Cartersville and Kingston approved referendums on local ballots.
A Sunday alcohol sales measure passed with almost 60 percent of the vote in Cartersville. An unofficial result had 59.5 percent, or 1,186 votes, in favor of the measure, with 40.5 percent, or 807, voting no. Passage of the referendum will grant shoppers the ability to purchase "malt beverages, wine and distilled spirits" on Sundays between the hours of 12:30 and 11:30 p.m.
"Regarding the passage of the package referendum on Sunday, this was something the state gave local communities the opportunity to decide," said Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini. "Whether you're for it or against it, at least everybody gets an opportunity to choose."
In Kingston, several alcohol related referendums were put before votes, each of which were approved. The final tally for Sunday alcohol sales came down to a matter of two votes -- 93 voters checked yes, 91 said no. Kingston also approved -- 53 percent to 47 percent -- the sale of alcohol by the drink; sale of malt beverages and wine on Sundays, 52 percent to 48 percent; and the issuance of licenses for package sales, 57.4 percent to 42.6 percent.
Charlie Pecchio, owner of downtown Kingston properties and founder of the Kingston Community Catalyst Corporation, advocated the passage of referendums for economic viability. Pecchio spearheaded the petition necessary for package sales which went before the Justice Department for approval.
"I think more than anything, it means extra revenue for the city and Kingston needs all the money that it can get. Also, it means that restaurants here and stores here can bring more people into town to make purchases which helps the local economy and ultimately will lead to more jobs," Pecchio said.
The countywide Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax approved Tuesday will extend the 1-cent measure. The county, Cartersville and local municipalities entered into an agreement on the SPLOST earlier this year.
Expected to raise almost $220 million in the course of six years, funds will be used for a multitude of projects, including road improvements, government facility construction or renovations and an expansion of the landfill. The SPLOST expansion will also fund the second Joint Development Authority, which was established in the summer to oversee the management of funds for debt services.
With 4,856 votes cast, 60.9 percent voted in favor of the SPLOST, with 39.1 dissenting.
"Whether people realize it or not now, this was a really big step forward for Cartersville and Bartow County. The fact that now there's going to be some funding in place for things that are mandated to us by the state or just through growth," Santini said. "I live in this community, I pay taxes like anyone else and I want as much in my pocket just like anyone else. The truth of the matter is, we've got a great tool to help us and that is I-75.
"I don't think anyone likes taxes but I think this is the fairest way to do it where everyone pays their fair share based on what they spend and you get people from outside the community that are sharing the cost of some of the improvements around here."
A Facebook poll by The Daily Tribune News Tuesday showed 40 percent voting no to the SPLOST extension and 33 percent in favor; 6.7 percent voting no to package sales; 6.7 voted no to both measures; and 13.3 percent voting yes to both.