JELLICO, Tn. (WYMT/WVLT) - Just last week, the city of Jellico couldn't make payroll for its 21 employees. It's low on cash - part of the problem is its beer sales tax revenues are down.
Mayor Les Stiers said Jellico's wholesale beer sales tax from July to this month is down more than $60,000 from the same time last year.
"Jellico was really the only city in the proximity that had packaged beer sales. People from Corbin and Williamsburg drove to Jellico to get packaged beer. But now, these cities have passed ordinances that allow them to generate the revenue there," said Stiers.
Corbin, Kentucky started selling packaged beer in June and liquor in September.
Corbin's mayor said he expects the city to bring in about $600,000 in beer and liquor sales tax revenues this fiscal year. He said most of that money has already been set aside for sidewalk and street improvements - projects that make some in Jellico wonder why the city doesn't start selling liquor itself.
"Really, I don't see why - they sell beer, and I mean, you know, Whiskey is basically just another step up from that, right? So yeah, I'd say that would be a good idea," said Jimmy Kaye, who lives in Jellico.
But Stiers said it's not that easy. People would need to vote for liquor sales - an issue that's failed twice before. He said the city's other money-raising options include selling city-owned land by the hospital, annexing property east and west of town and taxing trucking companies who bring supplies to town. One thing's for sure: something needs to be done.
"The State Comptroller's Office requires us to have three months of rainy day funds to fall back on. We don't have that," said Stiers.
City Council is holding a special call meeting Tuesday, October 30 at 5:30 to decide whether they'll sell the land by the hospital.