A petition opposing a wholesale markup on malt liquor purchases and calling for a city-wide vote on the markup failed to meet the requirements mandated by the City of Vermillion last week, Vermillion City Manager John Prescott said.
The deadline to submit a petition opposing the five percent markup — labeled a “beer tax” by businesses selling malt liquor — was March 19. City Attorney James Mcculloch turned the petition over to City Finance Officer Mike Carlson, coordinator of city elections, after determining the language of the petition was not complete.
Mcculloch declined to comment on the petition’s language because of potential pending legal circumstances.
Blaine Schoellerman, owner of Bunyan’s Bar and Grille, turned in the failed petition to the city. He said the city should expect another petition to vote on the markup next year because he predicts alcohol sales will suffer with the change.
“Almost all the bars in town had a petition,” Schoellerman said. “We circulated the petition. We turned it in a day early, figuring we would give the city ample amount of time to tell us if there was something incorrectly done, which they did.”
Schoellerman said the city told the circulators they were close on signatures. The petition received 40 more signatures, putting it at just more than 400 counted signatures.
Then, Schoellerman said, at 3:45 p.m. on Thursday, the city called his mother, Ann Schoellerman, and said the petition was null and void.
Carlson was not available for comment due to a family emergency.
The markup would be charged to businesses’ total profits from sale, not a forced tax on individual purchases. Businesses would be left to decide if they needed to raise prices.
“Just another reason for people to leave town and go buy their groceries and their beer and their clothing and everything out of town,” Schoellerman said.