Cedar­town of­fi­cials look­ing at liquor tax

♦ 3 per­cent ex­cise lo­cally pro­posed for shots, mixed drinks served in res­tau­rants; would be around 21 cents ex­tra per drink

The Standard Journal - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Myrick [email protected]­stan­dard­jour­nal.net

A change to the City of Cedar­town’s al­co­hol or­di­nance is com­ing this week after press time when com­mis­sion­ers were ex­pected to vote on in­sti­tut­ing a tax on mixed drinks and shots that could have been in­sti­tuted when liquor was first al­lowed lo­cally.

Cedar­town As­sis­tant City Man­ager Ed­ward Guz­man brought the or­di­nance change be­fore the board and ex­plained that it would only in­cur ad­di­tional costs on drinks served in only a few res­tau­rants within the city lim­its at 3 per­cent on liquor drinks.

“What this does, it would in­sti­tute a three per­cent ex­cise tax on sales of liquor by the drink, which for ex­am­ple would be a shot of tequila or a mar­garita,” Guz­man said.

He fur­ther ex­plained that the three per­cent would amount to around 21 cent based on his cal­cu­la­tions, and that it was some­thing other cities around

the re­gion have al­ready had in place since Ge­or­gia changed al­co­hol or­di­nances in the 1980s.

“This is some­thing the vast ma­jor­ity of the area al­ready has in place,” Guz­man said. “Rock­mart has had it in place since 2005, and it’s a tool that cities have had for years.”

Some lee­way would also be given to res­tau­rants who of­fer liquor sales to pa­trons on when taxes will first be due. If the pro­gram were to start in 2019, they’ll have a cou­ple of months to look at what they are ex­pected to pay be­fore writ­ing their first check.

The three per­cent isn’t ex­pected to gen­er­ate much rev­enue at the mo­ment ei­ther, Guz­man and City Man­ager Bill Fann both ex­plained when ques­tioned by com­mis­sion­ers about the num­bers.

Guz­man pro­vided con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mates of some­where in the range of $5,000 to $7,000 an­nu­ally. Rev­enue would go into the gen­eral fund for any use and isn’t ear­marked for any par­tic­u­lar project, Guz­man said.

“We don’t want to get to high on some­thing we don’t have ac­tual num­bers on,” Guz­man said. “Cur­rently the city has no es­ti­mate on what these restau­rant’s liquor sales are.”

Com­mis­sion Chair Jor­dan Hub­bard also asked about what area cities col­lect in rev­enue close to Cedar­town’s size.

The 3 per­cent is a state­set limit, which if set any lower wouldn’t gen­er­ate enough rev­enue to make it worth­while to in­sti­tute, Fann said. Com­mis­sion­ers did ask, but Fann said if the rate were less than 3 per­cent the cost of col­lec­tions could eas­ily out­weigh the ben­e­fit of ad­di­tional rev­enue.

Of note in the con­ver­sa­tion was ex­pan­sion, and the hopes that in the fu­ture that if new res­tau­rants move to the area with the forth­com­ing new ad­di­tion of the In­ter­na­tional Union of Op­er­at­ing En­gi­neers Lo­cal 926’s train­ing pro­gram cen­ter be­ing moved to Cedar­town, the hopes are that it might pro­vide a new growth of rev­enue for the city fac­ing tighter bud­get years an­nu­ally.

Com­mis­sion­ers will likely be vot­ing on the or­di­nance change dur­ing their De­cem­ber ses­sion, and all were in fa­vor of in­sti­tut­ing the 3 per­cent ex­cise tax as con­ver­sa­tions came to a close dur­ing the city’s work ses­sion last week.

As Cedar­town moves into a new bud­get year for FY 2019 at the start of Jan­uary, they held their re­quired Pub­lic Hear­ing on the bud­get last week as well. A pro­posal of $8.3 mil­lion in rev­enue and spend­ing was put be­fore com­mis­sion­ers in Novem­ber, and was set to be de­cided dur­ing the Dec. 10 ses­sion held ear­lier in the week after press time.

No one spoke for or against the fig­ures that Cedar­town’s Com­mis­sion­ers are look­ing to vote on dur­ing the work ses­sion on Dec. 3. They were set to vote on spend­ing for the year dur­ing their Dec. 10 meet­ing held after press time this pre­vi­ous Mon­day.

Fann also pro­vided up­dates on sev­eral projects un­der­way within the city, in­clud­ing the news that the IUOE Lo­cal 926’s prop­erty in Clay­ton County was closed on in past weeks, and equip­ment should be­gin mov­ing into their new home on a por­tion of the Ear­ley Prop­erty be­ing pro­moted for ex­pan­sion by the Devel­op­ment Au­thor­ity of Polk County.

He ex­pected their clo­sure on 90 acres of the land to be com­pleted this week, and work to be­gin in the new year on their new devel­op­ment.

/ Kevin Myrick

Rock­mart’s Kaleb Shel­ton, Tyler Abrams, Dy­lan Bai­ley and C.J. Cul­ver were among play­ers at the front of the team march­ing in the 2018 Christ­mas Pa­rade down Mar­ble Street as the grand mar­shals in honor of their his­toric 14-0 run to the state ti­tle game.

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