Augusta Commissioners rethinking waiving all alcohol license fees

CSRA News

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The idea was to help who were shut down but state and local executive orders by waiving their liquor license fees. Now city leaders are saying this help needs to be a lot more targeted.

They want to help by removing a $4000 expense for some city businesses selling alcohol but city leaders did not know how far that help is stretching.

“That’s something we may need to take a look at. I’m not sure about what’s going on there,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Bobby Williams.

What is going on is that commissioners voted to waive liquor license fees for this year to bring relief to businesses hurt by the pandemic, the ones that were forced to close and then re-open, with but with limited seating.

But all liquor license fees have been waived, even the stores that didn’t close and are doing well through the pandemic.

“The intention was for the restaurant owners who were told to shut down. We knew all along that liquor stores did not have to close, just restaurants,” said Commissioner Brandon Garrett.

“That’s not what I thought the attention was, that’s not what a lot thought the attention was. I thought it was for the restaurant lounges that had to close,” said Commissioner John Clarke.

Commissioners now saying they are planning to make amendments to the motion to reflect what  city leaders had in mind.

“Even during the discussion, we made it pretty clear that that’s what the intention was. For restaurants that have liquor licenses. For whatever reason that got lost in translation,” said Commissioner Garrett.  

Now most of these businesses have already paid for 2021 liquor licenses, about $900k are already in house. So if city leaders change direction, city officials will have to decide who gets a refund and who doesn’t.

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