Issaquah Chamber of Commerce backs liquor initiative

October 25, 2011

Costco-backed Initiative 1183, a November ballot measure to loosen state liquor rules, has received support from the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce.

Matthew Bott

If passed, I-1183 calls for state-run liquor stores to close by June 2012. The measure also aims to require the state to license private enterprises to sell and distribute hard liquor, set license fees based on sales and regulate licensees.

Still, opponents said safety concerns remain about efforts to privatize the system and sell booze at more locations.

Local business leaders announced the endorsement Oct. 14. Election Day is Nov. 8, and King County Elections is mailing ballots to voters.

“The Issaquah chamber stands with our peers across the state in endorsing I-1183 as part of our collective goal to help support the Washington economy, encourage government reform and introduce competition into the marketplace within this industry,” chamber CEO Matthew Bott said in a statement.

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Issaquah Chamber of Commerce endorses Costco-backed liquor initiative

October 15, 2011

NEW — 6 p.m. Oct. 15, 2011

Costco-backed Initiative 1183, a ballot measure to loosen state liquor rules, received support from the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce, business leaders announced Oct. 14.

If passed, I-1183 calls for state-run liquor stores to close by June 2012. The measure also aims to require the state to license private enterprises to sell and distribute hard liquor, set license fees based on sales and regulate licensees.

Still, opponents said safety concerns remain about efforts to privatize the system and sell booze at more locations.

“The Issaquah chamber stands with our peers across the state in endorsing I-1183 as part of our collective goal to help support the Washington economy, encourage government reform and introduce competition into the marketplace within this industry,” chamber CEO Matthew Bott said in a statement.

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Press Editorial

October 4, 2011

Yes on I-1183 to end state liquor business

Initiative 1183 — putting liquor sales in the hands of retailers instead of the state —is worth a yes vote. Last year, voters were asked a similar question, challenging the state’s monopoly on liquor sales. The voters said no. But I-1183 is vastly different.

For one thing, small stores like mini-marts will not be allowed to sell liquor, squelching the fear that teens will have more access than ever. Only stores larger than 10,000 square feet will qualify, unless a smaller store is the only option in town.

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Costco-backed I-1183 aims to remove state from liquor business

September 20, 2011

Months after a measure to privatize the state’s Prohibition-era liquor system failed, Issaquah-based Costco ordered another round, and spearheaded a similar measure for the November ballot.

Initiative 1183 aims to remove the state from the business of distributing and selling hard liquor. The measure is less comprehensive than Initiative 1100, a Costco-backed privatization measure rejected last November.

A colorful brand of Puerto Rican rum occupies a shelf at the state liquor store on Northwest Gilman Boulevard. By Greg Farrar

If passed, I-1183 calls for state-run liquor stores to close by June 2012. The measure also aims to require the state to license private enterprises to sell and distribute hard liquor, set license fees based on sales and regulate licensees.

Unlike the unsuccessful initiative from last year, I-1183 limits hard liquor sales to stores of at least 10,000 square feet. (The average Costco encompasses about 140,000 square feet.) I-1100 aimed to allow smaller retailers, such as gas stations and convenience stores, to sell hard liquor.

Still, opponents said safety concerns remain about efforts to privatize the system and sell booze at more locations.

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Costco joins push to privatize liquor sales

May 24, 2011

Issaquah-based Costco and a group of retailers and restaurants ordered another round May 20 in the push to privatize liquor sales and distribution in Washington.

The group filed a ballot initiative to allow a limited number of retail stores to sell liquor. If the initiative passes, eligible stores must have at least 10,000 square feet of fully enclosed retail space within a single structure or, in areas without larger stores, meet Washington State Liquor Control Board requirements.

In addition to Costco, the group includes the Northwest Grocery Association and the Washington Restaurant Association.

“This initiative will modernize the wholesale distribution and retail sales of liquor in a way that increases consumer choice and convenience, and increases state and local revenues, while continuing to protect public safety and strictly regulate the distribution and sale of liquor,” Northwest Grocery Association President Joe Gilliam said in a release.

“Under the initiative, an estimated 1,500 grocery and retail stores would be eligible to apply for a license to sell liquor. The initiative would prohibit liquor from being sold at gas stations and small convenience stores,” Gilliam said.

Costco led a push last year to privatize liquor sales through Initiative 1100, but 53 percent of voters rejected the measure. The company employs 2,700 people in Issaquah, more than any other business.

The initiative must go through the state process to establish a ballot title before petitions can be printed. Supporters expect signature gathering to begin in about a month. If supporters gather enough signatures, the measure could appear on the November ballot.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

Customers toast state-run liquor stores in survey

March 8, 2011

Customers offered a thumbs-up for state-run liquor stores, but suggested liquor store gift cards and online ordering as possible additions to the system.

The information comes from a Washington State Liquor Control Board survey commissioned after voters rejected ballot measures last fall to privatize the state-run liquor system.

Customers offered high marks for customer service, liquor store employee courtesy, product selection and store locations. The state released the survey results Feb. 8.

“We are pleased that our performance ranked high with customers,” board Chairwoman Sharon Foster said in a statement. “The results help validate the board’s work to modernize stores, improve the customer shopping experience and increase convenience with simple changes, like opening stores on Sundays and holidays.”

Gov. Chris Gregoire directed the liquor board to sponsor a survey to better understand customers’ attitudes about additional stores, updated store models, hours and more after a pair of liquor privatization initiatives — including Costco-backed Initiative 1100 — failed on the November ballot.

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Survey: Customers offer high marks for state-run liquor stores

February 9, 2011

NEW — 2 p.m. Feb. 9, 2011

Customers offered a thumbs-up for state-run liquor stores, but suggested liquor store gift cards and online ordering as possible additions to the system.

The information comes from a Washington State Liquor Control Board survey commissioned after voters rejected ballot measures last fall to privatize the state-run liquor system.

Customers offered high marks for customer service, liquor store employee courtesy, product selection and store locations. The state released the survey results Tuesday.

“We are pleased that our performance ranked high with customers,” board Chairwoman Sharon Foster said in a statement. “The results help validate the board’s work to modernize stores, improve the customer shopping experience and increase convenience with simple changes like opening stores on Sundays and holidays.”

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Issaquah residents defied trends in November election

December 14, 2010

The ballot measure to create a state income tax failed just about everywhere outside of left-leaning Seattle and Vashon Island — except for a precinct nestled along Lake Sammamish.

Initiative 1098 received ironclad support — 80 percent — in the precinct. The catch: King County records indicate the precinct has 11 registered voters; 10 participated in the Nov. 2 election.

The information about the Lake Sammamish precinct comes from a detailed analysis of the precinct results in the recent election. (Issaquah is carved into 30 precincts.)

The neighborhood-level data — released a month after the election — illustrates how the Issaquah electorate bucked state trends on some issues and rejected incumbents even as the candidates cruised to re-election.

The dueling liquor initiatives on the ballot, 1100 and 1105, received uneven support from Issaquah voters.

Initiative 1100, a liquor privatization measure backed by Issaquah-based Costco — the largest employer in the city — received broad backing in the city even as the measure came up short statewide.

Initiative 1105 failed in every Issaquah precinct and only managed to garner 35 percent of the vote statewide.

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Issaquah precinct defied trend to support income tax measure

December 5, 2010

NEW — 8 a.m. Dec. 5, 2010

The ballot measure to create a state income tax failed outside of left-leaning Seattle and Vashon Island — except for a precinct nestled along the southern end of Lake Sammamish.

Initiative 1098 received ironclad support — 80 percent — in the precinct.

The catch: King County records indicate the precinct has 11 registered voters; 10 participated in the Nov. 2 election.

King County Elections has released detailed data for the election. The information offers insight into how residents in Issaquah and the surrounding area cast ballots in high-profile contests.

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City Council decides against property tax hike for 2011

November 23, 2010

The anemic economy has prompted the City Council to decide against a property tax increase for 2011.

The unanimous decision holds the property tax rate at the 2008 level — or $1.38 per $1,000 in assessed value in property taxes.

The council followed a recommendation from Mayor Ava Frisinger to avoid a property tax hike for 2011. Members decided against the increase Nov. 15.

Frisinger proposed a $30.4 million general fund budget for next year — a slight increase from the $29.8 million general fund budget in 2010.

The general fund is used to pay for police and fire services, community development and planning, parks and recreation, and municipal government.

Money collected from property taxes accounted for almost a quarter of the general fund revenue in the 2010 budget.

Overall, Issaquah residents pay $10.80 per $1,000 in assessed value in property taxes to the Issaquah School District, King County, and numerous state and regional districts. The school district receives the largest slice — 44 percent.

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