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The first year of expanded alcohol sales proved fruitful for Elizabethtown.
The city recorded $822,897.26 in regulatory fees, license fees and fines, which greatly surpassed the city’s projection of $596,000 for the first year of malt beverage and package liquor sales.
“We missed it big time,” said Finance Director Steve Park, of the city’s conservative estimate. “But we didn’t know what to expect in the first year.”
The bulk of the cash is tied to a 5-percent regulatory fee enacted by Elizabethtown City Council, which must be allocated for regulation and enforcement of alcohol laws. Because of its fourth-class designation, the city gained access to unlimited malt beverage licenses and 12 package liquor licenses after an October 2011 referendum and was allowed by state law to enact the 5 percent fee. Radcliff, which went fully wet last year, is ineligible to collect the regulatory fee because it is a second-class city.
According to a report issued by Alcoholic Beverage Control Administrator Tom Reynolds, the city collected roughly $173,000 in restaurant fees and fines, $214,000 in package liquor fees and $434,000 in malt beverage fees.
There are currently 25 restaurant licenses, 12 package licenses and in excess of 40 malt beverage licenses in the city, according to the report.
Reynolds said the city avoided issuing fines of its own last year and had very little problems with those who received a license.
“Everything has gone smooth,” he said.
The state ABC did find a few local businesses in violation, including one establishment that sold to a minor, but Reynolds said he was unable to discuss the situation in detail or reveal the offender.
“When you have new outlets starting up, somebody is going to goof,” he said.
None of the city’s package licenses are vacant. E.W. James & Sons Supermarket sold its license at St. John Road to Packages & More Liquors for the establishment of a new store, Wine & More, on North Dixie Avenue. Reynolds said Monday the state approved the request for the license transfer.
The money has assisted in hiring six new officers and paid for equipment and cruisers to outfit the new hires, Park said. The city also has used the money to establish a database personnel position to work on alcohol-related data processing for Elizabethtown Police Department and cover Reynold’s salary and expenses to manage his office. Finally, the city provided a $15,000 donation to The Serenity Club, a local addiction recovery program.
Park said he would like to see the city use some of the money to focus on treatment and prevention programs in the future.
“We just need to explore that more,” he said. “Again, that’s just my opinion. That’s not city policy.”
In Radcliff, expansion of alcohol sales produced modest gains for the city’s general funds. Chief Financial Officer Chance Fox said the city collected $16,500 in alcohol license fees before the law change between July 2010 and June 2011. The expansion generated $32,475, which translates to an increase in revenue of $15,975.
According to numbers released by City Clerk and ABC Administrator Ashley Russo, all nine package liquor licenses have been rewarded and three of the eight liquor drink, or bar licenses, are taken. The city also has 32 active malt beverage licenses and seven restaurants operating under the limited restaurant license, which requires 70 percent of sales from food and no more than 30 percent from alcohol. Radcliff’s wet status has removed that requirement on restaurants, but Russo said most opted not to switch over.
Only one liquor-by-the-drink license has been awarded in the city, she said, which allows a restaurant to collect half of its sales from alcohol.
Mayor J.J. Duvall said the added revenue assists the city but does not have a great impact on the budget. However, the law change has created more access and greater convenience for residents who want to go out for a drink or drive a short distance to purchase alcohol for home use.
With the failure of a second alcohol vote in Elizabethtown to allow for bars, Duvall said the city has propositioned itself to higher-scale restaurants that do not operate under the 70/30 rule. Duvall believes the city eventually may be able to gain more interest and attract more establishments.
Vine Grove gained access to two package licenses and malt beverage licenses after the vote, but its numbers for 2012 were incomplete as of Tuesday.
City Clerk Jackie Johnson said the city was working with new computer programs and ironing out the kinks, but said she had recorded revenues of $7,881.25 from alcohol fees. Mayor Blake Proffitt did not return calls made by The News-Enterprise seeking comment for this story. It was unclear how many alcohol licenses are active in Vine Grove as of Tuesday.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elizabethtown expenditures of alcohol fees and fines
6 patrolmen including fringes $347,676
3 vehicles (equipped) $118,206
Worker’s comp $10,848
ABC Admin office $44,008
It database position w/ fringes $38,195
Office Supplies, uniforms
Training, etc. $14,067
Source: Elizabethtown City Government.
Radcliff license fees:
July 2010-June 2011: $16,500 (before the law change)
July 2011-June 2012: $32,475 (full year one)
July 2012-February 2013: $32,472 (year two partial)
Source: Radcliff City Government