Letters to the Editor

Privatizing the sale of beer, wine and spirits will cost our communities in more ways than one

Ballots will soon be in the mail. However you vote otherwise, I would like to ask San Juan County voters to reject Initiatives 1100 and 1105 that would privatize sales of beer, wine and spirits.

The San Juan Island Prevention Coalition is very concerned about the impact these bills would have on our community. These initiatives would increase the availability of alcohol, which is a demonstrated risk factor for substance abuse among youth.

San Juan County already has the highest rate of alcohol licenses per capita in the state. Studies show that increased outlets lead to increased consumption. There is also concern about increased sales to minors, as state-run stores have better compliance rates of not selling to minors than do non-state run stores.

The economics also argue for rejecting these initiatives. Local cities and counties receive substantial revenue from the state-run system, both for law enforcement and for substance abuse treatment programs. In FY 2010, the total return to state and local government for liquor sales was $365,930,618. Of this, San Juan County received $73,584 and Town of Friday Harbor received $29,837. Total loss of revenues for state and local governments under Initiative 1100 is estimated at $256 million to $277 million over a five-year period. Total loss of revenue for state and local governments under Initiate 1105 is estimated at $691 million to $730 million over a five-year period.

I argue that the current system is not broken. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Please vote "no" on Initiatives 1100 and 1105.

Rita Weisbrod
At-large member
San Juan Island Prevention Coalition executive board

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