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City seeks to base alcohol license fees on policing costs for bars, pubs, etc.
Statesboro council OK’s 6-month interim licensing
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Statesboro city officials are trying to develop a new range of fees for alcoholic beverage licenses based on the costs of policing different kinds of establishments: bars versus restaurants, for example.

Statesboro city officials are trying to develop a new range of fees for alcoholic beverage licenses based on the costs of policing different kinds of establishments: bars versus restaurants, for example.

In part to allow more time for the Statesboro Police Department and the city attorney to figure out how much to charge for each category, City Council approved an interim resolution Tuesday evening. As a result, alcohol license holders will receive only a half-year new license or renewal, from July 1 to Dec. 31, with the charge being half of the current full-year rates.

This will also reset the future due dates for Statesboro’s alcohol licenses to Jan. 1, the date used by the Georgia Department of Revenue for state alcohol licenses.

Phil Boyum
Phil Boyum

“To sum up, this is a transition ordinance to get us from where we are to where we want to be, which is licenses renewing December 31 as opposed to July 1 and adjusting the prices according to the particular type of business you are, after the police study the impact on expenditures,” District 1 Councilman Phil Boyum summarized.

Business owners had raised the issue of the July 1 due date last year in discussions with the council and its Alcohol Advisory Board. Some licensees complained that it put the need to pay fees in the middle of their slow season.

As a separate issue, the council last August approved an Alcoholic Beverages Ordinance rewrite defining six new licensing categories for businesses that serve alcohol for on-premises consumption: bars, bars with kitchens, pubs, restaurants, event venues and low-volume. The amendment applied differing rules on the admission of patrons under the legal drinking age of 21 to the various categories.

But as reported at the time, the definitions did not go into effect immediately, awaiting creation of a new fee structure.

 

Still studying it

City Attorney Cain Smith and police Capt. James Winskey have had discussions about basing the fees on the average cost of policing each type of business, Smith reported to the mayor and council.

“And at this point …it is conjecture for us to determine what sort of businesses are going to require more allocation of law enforcement resources and which ones won’t,” Smith said.

For all that city officials know at this point, businesses “that look like they’re going to be the worst, which are bars” could turn out to be “easiest to regulate” and restaurants could require more resources, Smith said.

He didn’t explain further, but the definition of a bar that does not have a kitchen establishes a clear line: no one under 21 admitted. Rules for the other categories are more complicated.

The aim of the new approach to fees will be to make the cost of law enforcement “revenue neutral” in regard to each type of business, Smith said.

“We need this time to determine where our resources are going,” he said.

But the new rules about admission of patrons under age 21 are being applied to the six-month licenses. License holders determine their category subject to approval by the Statesboro Police Department, and the interim ordinance states that establishments are to “operate, especially concerning underage entry, under the new license type as designated by SPD or as negotiated with SPD.”

But for now, the old wording of the ordinance remains in effect in regard to the fees.

Statesboro to this point has based alcohol license prices on the type of beverage served. For on-premises pouring licenses, the current rates are $1,425 each for beer, wine and liquor by the drink. So the full-year fee for a business serving all three has been $4,275, plus another $300 for a Sunday sales permit if desired.

Council’s vote for the interim resolution allowing six-month licensing was 4-0, after District 3 Councilman Jeff Yawn seconded Boyum’s motion and with District 4 Councilman John Riggs absent.

 

DSDA open containers

On another alcohol-related matter, council voted forward, from a first reading, a proposed ordinance change that would exempt the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority from the general rules on open alcohol containers for outdoor special events. The DSDA board would have to approve and sanction such events and provide information in advance to the police and fire departments and city clerk, but would not be subject to billing for the cost of required police presence as other organizations can be.

In one of the first uses of a formal procedure adopted by the council in December for new ordinances and amendments, Tuesday’s 4-0 vote did not enact the DSDA open container amendment, but sent it to a second reading slated for April 2.

 

Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.