64% more for an alcohol license? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

64% more for an alcohol license?

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Restaurant owners say the $800 increase in 2014 and additional $800 increase in 2015 is an undue burden Restaurant owners say the $800 increase in 2014 and additional $800 increase in 2015 is an undue burden
Jim Ervin owns Henry's Fine Edibles on Dawson Road Jim Ervin owns Henry's Fine Edibles on Dawson Road
Assistant City Manager Wes Smith Assistant City Manager Wes Smith
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

It could soon cost more for restaurants to serve alcohol in Albany.

Loud and clear, several restaurant owners are letting commissioners hear their disapproval of a 64% increase to the full pourer's license over the next two years, at Tuesday's commission meeting,

"So we feel like it's excessive and we're asking them to reconsider,"  said Jim Ervin, who owns Henry's Fine Edibles on Dawson Road.  

Commissioners approved a $1600 increase over the next two years for licenses allowing restaurants to serve alcohol.

"We felt like the fees were antiquated and should be brought up to date,"  said Assistant City Manager Wes Smith.  

But some say that increase could be detrimental to their business.

"You know, if we go into our customers and say the price of our drinks and beer are gonna go up 32%  or a larger percentage simply because of a decision that the commission has made, some of them would understand, but many of them would say, hey, that's excessive!  I won't pay that!"   Ervin said.

Restaurants currently pay $2,500 for a full pourer's license.  But that same license will run $3300 in 2014, and $4100 in 2015.

"You know, if you give us a 7, 8, maybe maximum 10 percent increase, we wouldn't be here.  We would understand,"  Ervin said.

Leaders disagree that the fee is too steep. "The commission reviewed the alcohol license fees, they had not been changed in at least 10 years.  In fact it's probably further than that," said Smith.  

The city manager's office compared Albany fees to those in cities like Savannah, Augusta or Columbus. But business owners aren't satisfied.

"There's certain cities in Georgia that they've got on that list that we have no comparison in the amount of industries there, the tourism and a combination of things that they're using,"  said  Ervin.  

And leaders stand by their conclusions. "We initially did a review of about 28 or 30 communities across the state, and I ran numbers on that," Smith said.  "The averages there were frankly about the same as the averages of the top seven."  

Restaurant owners plan to meet with the city manager to review data on how leaders reached their decision on the new rates. The assistant city manager says open communication may help solve the problem.

 

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