In addition to deciding whether to reapprove a 1/4 cent sales tax for street maintenance projects, Keller residents will vote Nov. 7 on whether to allow liquor stores to be built in the city.
Keller City Council voted at its June 18 meeting to call the election after accepting a petition to put the measure before voters. According to Tarrant County Elections Administration, the petition gathered 8,771 signatures. Of that number, 7,847 were accepted and 924 were rejected.
The petition needed 7,426 signatures for an election to be called. The required number of signatures is equal to 35% of the number of votes cast by Keller residents in the most recent election for governor.
Currently, Keller allows beer and wine sales at grocery and convenience stores and liquor sales at local bars and restaurants. If the measure put forward by the petition is approved, off-premises liquor sales from liquor stores will also be allowed in the city.
The petition was financed by North Texas businessman and Keller property owner Sahjit Singh. Singh, who is the CEO of Simarn, a software, consulting and staffing business, already owns a medical and software building in Keller and is constructing another property.
He told Community Impact Newspaper in May that he plans to add to that portfolio with a liquor store expected to open in fall 2020. The store will be a new build, and Singh is looking at what brand and type of liquor store he wants to open in Keller.
“Our plans are to operate an upscale package liquor store with a full range of wines, beers and specialty liquors that provides an enjoyable experience to our consumers with tastings, pairings, events, et cetera,” he said.
Singh initially plans to open one store in the city, but said he would consider building a second location depending on the success of the first shop.
According to a leakage report conducted by consulting and research firm The Retail Coach, Keller is losing about $20.9 million per year in liquor sales. That represents about $418,000 in sales tax revenue, according to the report.
Much of that money is being spent at liquor stores in nearby cities, including Colleyville, Fort Worth, North Richland Hills, Roanoke, Trophy Club, Watauga and Westlake.
Keller Mayor Pat McGrail told Community Impact Newspaper that allowing liquor stores to operate in the city would recapture some of those sales. A Keller liquor store could also attract customers from cities such as Grapevine and Southlake, which do not allow off-premises liquor sales.
According to McGrail, a conservative estimate calls for Keller to bring in at least $200,000 in new tax revenue each year if liquor stores are allowed to operate in the city.
Those revenues, coupled with property taxes from the liquor store building, could help keep property taxes low for Keller residents, McGrail added.
“They’re going to buy [liquor]one way or the other, so if they’re going to buy it, let’s let them buy it here in Keller. We can keep the tax dollars in town and also bring another commercial development that will bring more tax dollars on the building itself,” he said. “It’s money we can pass onto the citizens as far as further tax reductions.”