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May 23, 2014

City proposing alcohol license increases

MILLEDGEVILLE — The City of Milledgeville's upcoming fiscal year budget proposal features alcohol license increases that are closer to other governments in the vicinity.

City Council debated the extra cash during Tuesday's budget work session.

After much discussion, council agreed to drop a proposed $400 Sunday Sales permit fee for “retail packaged to go.”

If approved in its current form, retail packaged to go businesses would pay an extra $875 for beer, wine and liquor sales permits.

Councilman Boo Mullins, District 5, seemed bothered by the higher license requirements.

“I don't want to price ourselves out,” he said.

Surrounding counties like Laurens, Morgan and Houston all charge fees similar to the current proposed city rate hike. In most cases, other cities expect more than Milledgeville for a liquor license.

The ordinance permitting Sunday packaged to go sales passed after the last ordinance changing the overall license costs.

As a fee comparison, the new alcohol license structure would be identical to Warner Robins minus the Sunday sales charge. Madison requires a $250 payment for beer and wine and a $5,000 liquor tag for package to go.

If approved, Milledgeville would move up from $300 to $500 for beer and wine and up $475 for liquor package to go.

Councilwoman Denese Shinholster, District 3, said community per capita income should play into the license rate decision.

“We don't have the income that Warner Robins does. You have to think about whose buying the drinks as well,” she said Tuesday.

The alcohol license fees for “consumption on premises” are increasing $900 if this new rate package passes also.

Beer and wine licenses will be raised $200 each and consumption on premises liquor license includes an extra $500 as presented this week.

The $400 Sunday sales for consumption on premise stays.

Councilman Walter Reynolds, District 4, suggested striking the Sunday sales license for consumption on premise.

“They already have a license to sell it. I don't see why it should be any different from Sunday to Saturday to Monday or any other day for that matter,” he said. “If we aren't going to charge retail to go, then I don't see why we are charging consumption on premise.”

Mullins said the two issues differ because the Sunday consumption on premise was a “privilege” voted on by Council not a law passed by the public.

City Council will likely continue this budget-related debate at next week's work session before the alcohol rate fees are final.

 

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