Tonganoxie voters expand liquor sales

? Tonganoxie residents now will be able to purchase retail liquor on Sundays and select holidays.

In a special election conducted Tuesday, voters, by about a 2-1 margin, approved a ballot question asking whether retail liquor sales should be allowed on those days. The “yes” vote prevailed, 250-132.

The vote ended an ongoing debate during the past six years about whether the city should allow the sales. As more area cities adopted expanded retail liquor sales, Tonganoxie liquor store owners voiced their concerns to the Tonganoxie City Council about losing money to those out-of-town retailers.

Opponents of the expanded sales have contended that six days a week is plenty to purchase retail liquor and cited safety concerns.

When the city council has voted to allow Sunday and select holiday sales, protest petitions have been successfully filed and ultimately killed any chance for expanded sales.

In 2008, a compromise of sorts was found: the council approved retail liquor sales on Memorial, Independence and Labor days if the holiday fell on a weekday, while still holding off on Sunday sales. Liquor stores were able to compete with other cities on those holidays, but the state determined the arrangement wasn’t in line with state law.

The council then approved all sales, which opponents successfully blocked with another protest petition. That led to Tuesday’s special election. The new ordinance will become effective after county commissioners canvass the votes Friday.

Kansas statute says Tuesday’s decision cannot be challenged for 10 years.